Disciplines of interest: Literature
I’ve been lucky to study literature of many disciplines and genres at Lang. Looking at the history of literature, there is a natural progression of the human character portrayed in the novel, part of which started with the dualism in the Faust myth. The duality of character represented in Mephistopheles and Faustus, or good and evil, transcends past J.W. von Goethe and is incorporated into classic novels that came later, such as Jane Austen’s Emma. In my re-reading of Emma I am struck by the duality presented in Jane Fairfax and Emma Woodhouse, two different feminine tropes and ideals inhabiting the same space. At times, we are all sparklingly blunt Emmas, and at others we are dignified and inhibited Janes. There are so many important Emmas of history: Emma Bovary, Emma Courtney, Emma Darwin, and Queen Emma among many others. Along with Jane Fairfax we have Jane Eyre, Jane Seymour, Jane Grey, Jane Birkin, Calamity Jane, and, let’s not forget, Jane Austen. Both names signify different assumptions of women, all in a name. Austen’s portrayal of these two characters acknowledges the duality of the female character that too often goes missing.