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Jane Austen, Game Theorist$
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Michael Suk-Young Chwe

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691162447

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691162447.001.0001

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Austen’s Intentions

Austen’s Intentions

(p.179) Chapter Eleven Austen’s Intentions
Jane Austen, Game Theorist

Michael Suk-Young Chwe

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines whether Jane Austen intends to impart game theory in her novels. If Austen has no intention of making strategic thinking a central theoretical concern, one would have to explain the inclusion of many particular and otherwise unnecessary details, such as Elizabeth's argument to Jane that the pain of upsetting Mr. Bingley's sisters relative to the joy of marrying him is best measured by whether Jane chooses to refuse him. One would also have to explain Austen's superabundance of “schemes” and prizing of “penetration,” or her fairly direct theoretical statements, such as Elinor's doctrine that others should influence only your behavior, not your understanding. The most specific “smoking gun” evidence that Austen is centrally concerned with strategic thinking is how she employs children. Since learning strategic thinking starts early, lessons missed or mistaught in your childhood can have adverse consequences later.

Keywords:   strategic thinking, Jane Austen, game theory, novels, penetration, children

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