Resources for solitude: Proper self-sufficiency in Jane Austen

Philosophy and Literature 31 (2):323-343 (2007)
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Abstract

Austen's heroines need all their resources to overcome the suffering that their virtues occasion. Isolation threatens Emma Woodhouse, Anne Elliot, and Elinor Dashwood because of rather than in spite of their characteristic excellences. But this cannot be: virtue is supposed to contribute to flourishing, not detract from it. Fortunately, Emma, Anne, and Elinor also possess proper self-sufficiency, enabling them to endure and overcome the trials of their own virtue. Thus, Austen's heroines avoid misery, and virtue theorists learn to attend to virtues that respond to the struggle that partially constitutes even excellent human lives.

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Margaret Watkins
Saint Vincent College

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