Connections Between Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, and Fay Weldon's Letters to Alice on First Reading Jane Austen

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Women in Jane Austen’s time were expected to find a husband, reproduce and take care of the husband. They were mothers and housekeepers and were only taught basic reading and writing skills. Most women were discouraged when they attempted to achieve more education as they were barred from universities. Women were excluded from most professions except for writing and teaching, and they had no right to own a business or to hold property once married. Women received less education than boys because it was considered more important for them to learn ‘accomplishments’ like embroidery and music rather than academic subjects. Women would have learnt the piano, sketched, read books, engaged in some needlework such as embroidery or carpet-work and go to dances. Females were only able to have low paid jobs and if they were to receive any family wealth it was usually only a small percentage. | This is very different to what was experienced by Alice and her Aunt Fay in Letters to Alice. It has become more accepted and therefore easier for women to work. New laws and opportunities were introduced which made it easier for women to have a family and a career. More than half of all women worked in the 1980’s and they were mostly employed in the service sectors: admin, retail, teaching, banking and finance. However, women still weren’t paid the same rate of pay as men in the same areas and it was still very uncommon for women to participate in many outdoor or laborious occupations. In Letters to Alice, Aunt Fay suggests that women who are successful will not need to depend on men as they have done in the past, saying that “Success kicks away the stool of masochism, on which female existence so often depends”. (Letters to Alice, Page 95). Education for women had also improved with it now acceptable for women to further their education and go to university. Governments encouraged teachers to give girls extra help to...
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