English 10 B
2 Ferbruary 2011
Gender Roles for Women in Pride and Prejudice
The novel Pride and Prejudice represents life in the middle and upper classes in the 19th century. Jane Austen, the author, does an excellent job of differentiating the status and roles that people play. Georgiana Darcy, the Bennet sisters, and Charlotte Lucas are limited in their opportunities because of their social class, gender, and birthright.
Being born into a high social class leaves a woman with no pressuring obligations. Georgiana Darcy was lucky to be born into a wealthy family that could support her throughout her whole life. It would not be necessary for her to marry unless she wanted to. With all the family’s money came and education for young Miss Darcy. She was highly educated in piano, drawing, and singing. Mr. Darcy loves his sister dearly, so he allows her to do as she wishes, but in other circumstances a woman is merely entertainment and pretty. Lady Catherine, Mr. Darcy’s aunt, is a most prestigious woman with quite a large fortune. She makes it clear that women should have the skill of art, drawing, singing, or playing. When Elizabeth informed her that her family had no governess, Lady Catherine was shocked. Lady Catherine and Georgiana Darcy never have to work for anything. They can simply buy what they need. Gender plays little difference for women of a high class. They can do whatever they wish as long as it does not involve politics, estate, or other jobs for men. At the time though, they would not have cared to do any more than be proper women.
This whole exchange between Lady Catherine and Elizabeth shows just how much lower the Bennets are in comparison to Mr. Darcy and Lady Catherine. The Bennets grow up with no governess, therefore no education. Lady Catherine expresses her shock at having no governess by saying, “‘No governess! How was that possible? Five daughters brought up at home without a governess! - I...