The fact that marriage is the only real option open to women and that to be unmarried is to a certain extent to be a social misfit, is central to the social critique and the understanding of gender stereotypes that Austen expertly reveals to the reader. Rather than endorsing female stereotypes she exposes them through characters like her mother. Secondly, through her main female characters like Elizabeth the author presents women who have strong views and opinions and who are independent and certainly cannot be described as stereotypical. On the other hand Austen is continually aware that characters like Elizabeth Bennet have to live in a certain social milieu and that she is bound to a certain extent by social stereotypes of the time. Therefore in the final analysis this argument leads to the view that Pride and Prejudice erodes and works against female stereotypes.
The above view is emphasized in a number of studies of this Novel. For example, while the contemporary reader "... may think that Pride and Prejudice shows only stereotypes of women obsessed with marriage" (Kubitschek 237), yet this was a necessity in terms of the social expectations of the time. Marriage for women is therefore an "obsession" and "Historically, middle-class British women had little choice." (Kubitschek 237) The fact that Charlotte Lucas prefers to marry any husband rather then remain single is evidence of this view and is reiterated time and again in the novel. This also related to the social fact that women were socially prevented from having an extensive education and had no avenue for advancement except through marriage.
However, while Austen exposes the situation of women she also offers alternatives and an even deeper understanding of the situation of women through her central characters. Elizabeth Bennet is by no means a subservient and reticent woman. She does not subscribe to the stereotypical view of women of the time and she has extremely high standards and a strong sense of independence. Austen is well aware that even Elizabeth must take into consideration the social norms and demands of the time. Despite these restrictions, Austen paints a picture of highly independent and principled woman who defies and contradicts submissive gender stereotypes. The fact that Elizabeth initially rejects Darcy in spite of the enormous class advantage that the marriage would have meant clearly indicates her sense of independence and her rejection of the class and sexual stereotypes of the age.
In essence Pride and Prejudice is a novel about the centrality and the situation of women in society. As one critic notes, "Men are of secondary importance in the novels, however useful they may be to the plot, and male experience becomes relevant only in so far as it confirms "feminine" truth. And by this I mean not a truth for women alone but what for Austen is a universal truth reflected more clearly in ...
Works Cited www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=22101131
Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. Ed. Kinsley, James. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.
Kubitschek, Missy Dehn. "Truths Universally Acknowledged: Stereotypes of Women in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice (1813)." Women in Literature: Reading Through the Lens of Gender / . Ed. Jerilyn Fisher and Ellen S. Silber. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2003. 237-239. Questia. 12 Dec. 2006 http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=102159011.
Morrison, Sarah R. "Of Woman Borne: Male Experience and Feminine Truth in Jane Austen's Novels." Studies in the Novel 26.4 (1994): 337+. Questia. 12 Dec. 2006 http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5000287328.
Women in Literature: Reading Through the Lens of Gender. Ed. Jerilyn Fisher and Ellen S. Silber. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2003. Questia. 12 Dec. 2006 http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=102158737.
Rather than endorsing female stereotypes she exposes them through characters like her mother. Secondly, through her main female characters like Elizabeth the author presents women who have strong views and opinions and who are independent and certainly cannot be described as stereotypical. On the other hand Austen is continually aware that characters like Elizabeth Bennet have to live in a certain social milieu and that she is bound to a certain extent by social stereotypes of the time. Therefore in the final analysis this argument leads to the view that Pride and Prejudice erodes and works against female stereotypes.
Indeed, in her conversations with Wickham, Elizabeth was extremely superficial, appreciating him because of his pleasant manners and positive attitude towards her, and omitting any other considerations: "Elizabeth honoured him for such feelings, and thought him handsomer than ever as he expressed them."(Austen, 36) Elizabeth had been definitely wrong in her opinions of both Darcy and Wickham, but had been right about the other man who proposed to her,
Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" is set in rural England, in Longbourn, during the Napoleonic Wars, 1797-1815. The novel centers around the Bennet family, which includes five daughters of marrying age, Jane, the oldest, then Elizabeth, Mary, Kitty, and Lydia. It is a story of romance, manners and a comedy of misunderstandings, in 19th century England. The protagonist of the story is the second daughter, Elizabeth, regarded as
Austen Jane Austen allows her characters to reveal themselves naturalistically, through their words and actions. Rather than interfering with an overly strong narrative voice, the author prefers to enable the reader's engagement with characters like Darcy as if they were real life acquaintances. Interestingly, though, Austen makes a small exception for Darcy, who when he first appears in Chapter three, is described by the narrator. Austen's choice of introduction makes perfect
Jane From reading this book, it is apparent that Jane is misunderstand too because she supports Elizabeth in her decision even though she is the older sister, which gives her the role to correct her by society's standards. When Elizabeth herself becomes engaged to Darcy, Jane is the first person she tells. "My sole dependence was on you; I am sure nobody else will believe me if you do not." Jane
Darcy. All of these problems are worked out by the conclusion of the novel, but not before Lydia has run off with Mr. Wickham and eloped. This is considered a great disgrace and a shame for the Bennet's because it is found out that Mr. Wickham is not a very wholesome character and in fact has quite a few skeletons in his closet. But Lydia does not seem to
Jane Austen Quotes Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. New York: Bantam Classics, 2003. Print. PRIDE "His pride," said Miss Lucas, "does not offend me so much as pride often does, because there is an excuse for it." (15) "It has been the study of my life to avoid those weaknesses which often expose a strong understanding to ridicule." "Such as vanity and pride." "Yes, vanity is a weakness indeed. But pride -- where there is real