Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours


Faculty of Education and Arts

First Advisor

Jill Durey


The first aim of this thesis is to explore Jane Austen's use of contrast in terms of characterisation. The second is to look at how contrast becomes a tool of didacticism, both for the characters within the novels and for readers of the novels. This study encompasses Austen's six completed novels and traces the development of the techniques she used to evoke contrast. Austen used contrast in a variety of ways. Primarily it was used to construct and illuminate characters, but Austen also used it to introduce characters into the narrative, to compare two or more characters, and to structure the arcs of characters throughout the plot. Many of Austen's plots are structured around the sustained contrast of two characters. This thesis traces Austen's maturation in her handling of this technique by looking at instances of direct and implied contrast. Austen also employed contrast as a tool of didacticism. Contrasting the actions and behaviours of various characters allowed Austen to portray some qualities as admirable and worth emulating, while others were shown to be negative and harmful. Realising these contrasts is a learning experience for both characters within the novels and for readers of the novels, if they choose. The chief qualities that Austen champions through her portrayal of her heroines are self-knowledge and personal integrity.