By establishing the social influences upon the author, one can better understand her focus in writing; by understanding the early biasness against both female authors and the novel in general. Lastly, through examining the mentality of both Austen and the characters she has illustrated, one can fully appreciate the full revolutionary ramifications of her accomplishments.
Jane Austen's access to books is greater than implied by Marianne Dashwood's claim "Our own library is too well known to me..." (Austen 343). For, in addition to her father's library containing some 500 books, her entire family are known to have often borrowed or exchanged books as the opportunity arose. Frequent book references in her correspondences imply a wide literary familiarity; it is precisely because of the scope of her reading that she never becomes a student of one particular style over another. Austen allows her own taste to dictate an author's skill, only incorporating outside references within her own stories as "the daily uses that people make of their reading, in conversation, argument, and the shaping of imaginative experience." (Grundy 190) rather than trying to elevate her characters through a knowledge of the classics. With such intent in mind, she finds ways to avoid imitating any particular style, much less alluding to a particular author directly. When she does make reference to another writer, it is normally hidden within the structure of a woman assessing a man's potential as a husband, either through contemplation of the figure or by something the character actually says.
Perhaps it is in response to such contemporary works as Uvedale Price's Essay on Picturesque or Richard Payne Knight's The Landscape, a Didactic Poem, both of which are romantically "advocating roughness at the expense of well-kept lawns and tidy homesteads." (Lane 99) that Austen feels she must respond. When Edward Ferrars first visits the ladies Dashwood at Barton and is asked to regard the beauty of the surrounding countryside, he speculates how dirty they must get during the winter. Marianne wonders at this response, especially considering the splendor of the vista. He states it is because "among the rest of the objects before me, I see a very dirty lane." (Austen 88). Through her characters, the author does show an appreciation of the English countryside, but implies that such admiration should not be blindly excessive, but instead from private and realistic aesthetics. This approach is often a subtle admonishment in all of her description of Devon and Dorset, as when she first describes the environment of the Barton cottage: "The situation of the house was good. High hills rose immediately behind, and at no great distance on each side; some of which were open downs, the others cultivated and woody." (Austen 28-29). With this Austen shows an intellectual appreciation of the surroundings, with the hills being pleasingly balanced and a generous variety of terrain. The fact that the ladies Dashwood acknowledge the beauty of the landscape directly contrasts with their brother's approach back in Norland, in which he cleared land to set up an enclosed greenhouse.
In comparison to the country, Austen's dislike of London is revealed in that her "really reprehensible characters embrace London values" (Lane170). The constriction and crowding of the buildings directly parallels the confining pressure of amassed