Date of Award


Document Type




First Reader

Dr. Jay Curlin

Second Reader

Professor Jennifer Pittman

Third Reader

Dr. Scott Duvall


As any Jane Austen lover can confirm, the romances in Austen's books feel closer to life than any romance in other novels, even if the relationships and some of the settings are fictional. Of all the books in which romance plays a key role, why do hers rise above the mocking that most receive? Though she never married, she grasps the concept of love in all its complexity through plot, how her characters relate to one another, as well as these characters' development. Another author who sets out to deal with the complexity of love, albeit in more of a textbook fashion, is C.S. Lewis, in his radio lecture series turned book, The Four Loves. In it, he explores the differences between loves, the progressions from one love to another, the perversions and perfections of these loves that culminate in the perfect love of Agape, or unconditional love. Though these portrayals and definitions of love come from authors writing in different centuries, both Austen and Lewis comprehend and effectively communicate what love is in their writings. Without examining her works specifically, Lewis reveals why Austen's romances work so well by defining the perfections and perversions of Eros. The romantic relationships in her six novels that succeed and fail correspond to these perfections and perversions of love expounded upon in Lewis's work.



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