Name: 胡晓君 Maggie
Student Number: 12011043
Analysis of Feminism in Pride and Prejudice
Abstract：Pride and Prejudice is a marvellous novel of Jane Austen. Although in her age, women are regarded as emotional, weak, nurturing, and submissive, Austen depicts her heroine, Elizabeth as a woman who has her own perspectives, feelings, and opinions. This paper analyses feminism in Pride and Prejudice from its progressive and conservative aspects. The former is reflected from the perspective of the way of narration and depiction of Elizabeth, while the latter is illustrated when this novel is confined in patriarchal society, that is, it compromises with custom and tradition of its time. Key words: feminism, female’s narrative perspective, depiction of Elizabeth, compromise.
Pride and Prejudice is famous as a masterpiece of Jane Austen for centuries. Many factors contribute to the success of it. The plot is absorbing: it tells how the hero, Darcy gets rid of his pride and the heroine, Elizabeth gets over her prejudice and to know each other and how they finally get married. The writing technique is noticeable as well. Narrative perspective from Elizabeth influences readers’ judgement, which causes readers’ misunderstanding of Darcy at the beginning. The correction of Elizabeth’s understanding of Darcy’s real character in the last chapters creates one of the climaxes in this novel. Austen’s language is witty and concise, and many words are full of wisdom and humor. We can observe Austen’s feminism in Pride and Prejudice, although she may not realize it. The narration from a female’s perspective is worth mentioning. It provides us with a different world from a male’s view. Women are placed in the center of narration. In the novel, Elizabeth is outstanding among those women. She is a woman who thinks she is equal with men. However, feminism in this novel is conservative, for Austen did not go beyond social custom in her day. There is something against feminism. Women are passive and dependent on man economically. I will analyze the progressiveness and conservatism in this novel. A rough knowledge of Austen’s writing background is helpful for us to understand the analysis better. The story happens in the late eighteenth or the early nineteenth century in a British rural country which is similar to Austen’s life environment. In Austen’s day, for women did not work outside like men, their economic status is quite low. Lack of economic independence also suggests that women have to rely on men after marriage if they want to live decently. Inequality in economy leads to women’s dependence. Inequality caused by social custom also affects women’s social status. The inferior position long occupied by women in patriarchal society has been culturally, not biologically, produced. (Hornsby, 257) Men were regarded as governors of society, while women as objects governed by them. Even women themselves did not think they were as equal as men. They accepted it as a truth that men were innately superior to them. However, in Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth is against this traditional view. She has much confidence on her intelligence and judgment and at the time she is against tradition to some extent. Elizabeth’s distinction is a statement of Austen’s awakening of feminism. This paper appreciates the female’s perspective of narration in Pride and Prejudice and the way that Austen depicts Elizabeth as a woman who has similar viewpoint with feminists. Meanwhile, this paper notices that the novel has its limitation in terms of feminism. This paper analyses feminism in Pride and Prejudice from its progressive and conservative aspects 2. Progress in Terms of Feminism
2.1 The Female’s Narrative Perspective
Special viewpoint is important to convey the idea and life experience of the narrator and even the writer. (Min Jie, 65) In...