Jane Austen’s depictions of musical performers and listeners in her novels suggest her belief that musical performances should strengthen intimacy between people, both between listeners and performers as well as among listeners. Austen commends music for its power to increase intimacy through honest expressions of taste, which more often arise in private performances, but she warns against its power to decrease intimacy through pretentious displays of taste, which more often arise in public performances. Austen’s belief that music allows for this healthy intimacy indicates that music has great significance in society. Austen suggests that music has a greater importance to everyday life than many may originally suppose, as it is a universal connection between people. Ultimately, Jane Austen’s perspective of music’s great power both to expose pretentiousness and to cultivate intimacy should lead all of her readers to recognize and respect music’s true power and to consider seriously the importance and role of music in their own lives.
- Music and Intimacy in Jane Austen's Novels