Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Elizabeth Fay

Second Advisor

Susan Tomlinson

Third Advisor

Louise Penner


This thesis is an examination of how Jane Austen portrayed trauma and traumatic experiences progressively in her heroines in four of her novels; Sense and Sensibility 1811, Pride and Prejudice 1813, Mansfield Park 1814, and Persuasion 1817; These four novels are examined to depict how Austen evolved in portraying the type and depth of trauma progressively on her heroines, and how that is related to the distant war that was occurring on away from England. The Trauma that has been examined can be classified into two main categories: Trauma that occurred in childhood and/or early adolescent years for these heroines, as well as trauma that occurred during adulthood. The thesis examines how the trauma in the childhood of these heroines, namely Fanny Price in Mansfield Park who developed into a permanent presence manifested in PTSD, and in Persuasion’s Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth who develop loss related trauma, as well as how the navy and war related experiences affected the lives of these two characters and their responses to stressors.

The effects of shock and being exposed to traumatic experiences result in a state of ‘speechlessness’ or an impairment to voice one’s suffering and thoughts via speech or narratively. The voices of these heroines are stifled such as the case in Fanny Price or stolen such as the case in Elinor Dashwood by an overwhelming force that suppress their ability to ‘voice’ their needs, especially when they are exposed to stressors that reminds them of an earlier experience that triggers such a behavior over and over again.

This thesis also examines how the heroines who were exposed to early traumatic experiences had long-term effects on their personalities, responses, and reactions to stressful events during their adulthood years, as well as how that is different from heroines who were brought up in a relatively better family environment such as Marianne Dashwood in Sense & Sensibility and Elizabeth Bennet in Pride & Prejudice. Moreover, we shall look at suggested remedies for these traumatic experiences in the text that help elevate, relief, or ease the trauma effects as presented in the texts.


Free and open access to this Campus Access Thesis is made available to the UMass Boston community by ScholarWorks at UMass Boston. Those not on campus and those without a UMass Boston campus username and password may gain access to this thesis through resources like Proquest Dissertations & Theses Global or through Interlibrary Loan. If you have a UMass Boston campus username and password and would like to download this work from off-campus, click on the "Off-Campus UMass Boston Users" link above.