Jane Austen wrote her book about life for women in the nineteenth century; the Regency period. For women in this period, life was very unbalanced, women were not perceived as equals and men were superior and had full authority in every aspect of life. There was a clear segregation among men and women and the values they were expected to maintain.
"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of good fortune must be in want of a wife".
Men received greater respect; an ascribed dominant identity. Their ideas and needs were considered a necessity; they were entitled to decide their own destiny. Women however, had to meet societies expectations. A married woman has achieved her purpose in life. When Mr. Bennet tells his wife she is as handsome as her daughters, she says that she has had her share of beauty but doesn't pretend to be anything extraordinary now.
"When a woman has five grown up daughters, she ought to give over thinking of her own beauty".
In the very introduction of the novel, the difference between men and women is made very clear. Mr. Bennet is a mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, reserve', whereas Mrs. Bennet is a woman of little information, her mind is not difficult to develop'; the business of her life, and indeed the life of any married woman, is to get her daughters married. Austen includes the intent and actions of attracting Mr. Bingley for one of the Bennet's daughters. Mr. Bennet has always intended to visit Mr. Bingley but has said to his wife he won't go. Once he has gone, his wife says to him,
"I was sure you loved your girls too well to neglect such an acquaintance".
She says to her daughters,
"What an excellent father you have girls".
Any conflict among families involves the pursuit of a suitable husband for the younger female members of the family.
"I do not believe Mrs Long will introduce him. She has two nieces of her own".
This introduction ensures that the reader becomes familiar with the intent of the female characters and focuses on male characters in a judgemental manner, to see the extent of their suitability for the central female characters. When Mr. Darcy is described, the initial description is very positive. His physical appearance is very impressive. "He drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien".
Mr. Darcy has the desired physical characteristics and the wealth required to make an impressive husband. The men and women admired his qualities,
"The gentlemen pronounced him to be a fine figure of a man and the women said he was much handsomer than Mr. Bingley".
Austen created an almost super-human character, whereby every spectator was completely awe-struck.
"He was admired for half the evening".
However, although Mr. Darcy has been portrayed as an exceptionally impressive character, whose presence is immediately felt, this is merely from a physical perspective. Although in many cases, this would be a positive starting point, his personality and behaviour soon counteract the positive description that was built up.
Mr. Darcy's manners caused disgust among all those who previously contributed to his popularity. The language puts an emphasis on his negative behaviour and also the disappointment of the way he changed. He is described as proud, disagreeable and unworthy. The language has been used in a very dramatic and effective way; it built up to portray a very worthy character and suddenly displays a reversal of roles among this character; he is not at all what he first appeared to be. The language ensures there is conflict among appearance and reality. Austen also uses positive qualities within Mr. Bingley to indicate the flaws within Mr. Darcy. Mr. Bingley behaves the way Mr. Darcy should; he dances every dance and...