Katherine Stein

Motherhood

Teaching Notes

Materials

"Motherhood" was first presented at the Jane Austen Summer Program of 2021, entitled "Jane Austen's World." Katherine Stein explores the contradictions and paradoxes involved in the role of mothering in the Regency world.  

Discussion Questions 

  1. Considering what you know about this “business of Mothering,”how do you understand Austen’s professedly maternal relationship with her novels? What is the significance of such declarations of authorial maternity? See, for example, “I am never too busy to think of S&S. I can no more forget it, than a mother can forget her sucking child” (Letters, p. 190), and her reference to Pride and Prejudice as “my own darling Child” (Letters, p. 210).

  2. How do you see Austen’s ideas of Motherhood evolving across the course of her life—as evidenced in her letters, her novels, and/or the Tomalin biography? To what extent do you find Austen subscribing to or critiquing these romanticized ideals of Motherhood? How do you see the tension between “absolute maternal devotion” and “the repression of female desire and freedom” reflected across Austen’s writing?