Austen, Actresses and Accessories: Much Ado About Muffs by Laura Engel (auth.)

By Laura Engel (auth.)

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Example text

Particularly for female characters, “For self expression to be ‘authentic’ and believable, it has to be spontaneous, personal, and unperformed. ”23 This irony is deeply evident in analyzing the “heroines” in Austen’s Juvenilia who are “spontaneous” and seemingly unselfconscious or “unperformed,” and, at the same time, they are also largely “illegible” and nonsensical. 24 In the masquerade scene, Austen creates a provocative visual tableau and invites the reader to imagine the seductions involved in disguise and revelation.

And Mrs. ”18 Unlike the practical discussion of muslin, the reference here to the muff is about shopping and guessing something’s value – signs that the items are not useful in any practical way but just there for display and show. This is essentially what the Thorpes will turn out to be for Catherine and, more disturbingly, for her brother. The muff is also tied to Mrs Allen’s gauche consumerism. 0006 Restless Luxuries  are superfluous – which ultimately is about her own process of selfawareness and learning how to negotiate her own text and her own value literally and figuratively.

I draw connections between representations of gigantic muffs in satiric prints and the issues surrounding the dynamics of women’s “publick” appearances in Austen’s Juvenilia and Eliza de Feuillide’s correspondence. Focusing on the muff as a stylish, theatrical, and suggestive accessory highlights the contradictory images of women surrounding Austen in her early teenage years. Engel, Laura. Austen, Actresses, and Accessories: Much Ado About Muffs. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. 0005. 0005   Austen, Actresses and Accessories: Much Ado About Muffs The Rice Portrait: youth and style A lovely young girl poses gracefully with her parasol, her slender fingers clutching the delicate folds of her dress revealing her stockings and black shoes.

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