Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

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Pride and Prejudice was written by Jane Austen in 1813. The novel documents the growth and experiences of Elizabeth Bennet. In the ensuing narrative, Elizabeth is shown to be able to improve her approach towards individuals. While she had projected obnoxious prejudice regarding other individuals, she later comes to appreciate the essence of respect, patience and tolerance in the future. One of the major themes which underlie the narrative is feminism. In the novel, Jane Austen explores the ways by which the rights of women were undermined. There are several instances in the novel which reflect the various attempts by the author to challenge the gender partisan gaze that guided interactions in the setting. Essentially, the text Pride and Prejudice advocates for the equality of women in the society.

             Notably, the novel highlights the differences in fortunes between male and female characters. While females are projected to be the victims of a patriarchal setting which favors men, the latter group is allowed significant opportunities which reinforces their authority over women. Sarcastically, Austen sought to expose the double standards in her community through the objectification of women characters. In the first paragraph of the text, Jane Austen suggests that “it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife” (2). The statement projects women to be a property to be acquired. Essentially, the text explores the misogynistic perspectives which decree that all women wish to be owned by wealthy men. The view is biased because characters such as Elizabeth Bennet were not willing to settle for men simply because of their wealth. Additionally, not all women were inclined to the belief that their completion would be achieved through marriage. Objectification of women is also witnessed when marriage is shown to be a transaction rather than an agreement between two different individuals who wish to share a life together as husband and wife. The monetary value of women is reflected in the statement “how much money your uncle has laid down to bring it about; and the other, how am I ever to pay him” (Austen 374).The phrase seeks to weigh the value of a woman in marriage on monetary terms. Such an approach is faulty since women are not commodities of trade.

            The equality of women in the text is the primary focus of the statement, “in marrying your nephew, I should not consider myself as quitting that sphere. He is a gentleman; I am a gentleman’s daughter; so far we are equal” (Austen 439). In the scene, Elizabeth Bennet is shown to be categorically highlighting her individuality in the face of an attack by Lady Catherine de Bourgh who is committed to the idea that women should be timid and subservient. Through Elizabeth, Austen sought to question the reality of women in her society. The character reflects elements of independence and intelligence which are often reserved for the male members of her society. In the conversation, the author makes subtle references on the need to empower women in the society. While Lady Catherine represents a mentality that has been molded by a patriarchal society, Elizabeth represents the relentless efforts made by women in the attempts to extricate themselves from partisan definitions.

            In reflecting on the issue of equality in the society, Pride and Prejudice suggests that men benefited more from relationships than was the same for their female counterparts. Since women were not financially empowered, they were forced to seek men who were wealthy to have financial stability. Stripping women of a means to generate income, and cutting them off from inheritance divisions, rendered them at the mercy of their male counterparts. Mrs. Bennet’s actions are intended to inspire the passion of the male individuals. In hosting the male guests, she hopes to be able to endear her daughters to their desires. Mrs. Bennet’s ill patriarchal mentality is reflected in the statement: “she did not think anything less than two courses could be good enough for a man on whom she had such anxious designs, or satisfy the appetite and pride of one who had ten thousand a year” (Austen 416). Essentially, female actions were measured only measured on how well they would appeal to the male audience. Thus, every action was contrived to ensure that men were glorified while undermining the position of women in the same society.

            Jane Austen sought to establish a balance between the expectations on male and female members in the community. Ideally, she negates the existence of double standards which are founded on the perfection of the woman. In a perfect setting, Elizabeth’s community supposes that the male is the only provider, the female becomes the stay at home wife and mother. Mainly, Pride and Prejudice highlights the domestication of women while celebrating the economic and social empowerment of the male. Any attempts by a woman, such as Elizabeth, to challenge her social setting are met with scorn and derision. On the other hand, attempts by males in the subject community to flaunt their wealth and provision abilities are met with celebration. In highlighting the different responses to the sexes.

            Alternatively, Austen’s text could be understood to be a reinforcement of inequality in her community since she failed to expressly negate the concept within the novel. However, it is important to note that the satirical approach engaged by the author would have been more effective in inspiring attention towards the disparity in the subject setting. Through highlighting the different experiences among the sexes, Pride and Prejudice successfully conveys the unequal treatment that is extended towards women. The different treatment of women and men lays credence to the presence of inequality.

            Conclusively, Pride and Prejudice is a novel that highlights the need for equality in the community. The comparison between men and women in the novel allows the readers insight on the disparities that exist in the society between the sexes. While women are expected to project perfection, men’s faults are readily forgiven. Equally, men are shown to be assertive and confident. Similar traits in women are misconstrued to reflect insolence. For instance, during her interactions with Lady Catherine, Elizabeth is projected to be insolent given her refusal to conform to the standards that are expected of women. Additionally, the book conveys the idea that society assumes women were born to gratify male desires. While men are allowed the opportunity to earn a living and thus provide for their families, women are confined within the borders of their domestic settings. Overall, Jane Austen sought to expose the unfair and patriarchal policies which guided functions in her society.

Work Cited

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice & Mansfield Park. e-artnow, 2018.

November 24, 2023



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