Pride and Prejudice Essay

Topics: Social class, Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet Pages: 7 (2553 words) Published: December 17, 2012
The Social Conflicts of 19th Century England
A woman without her man is nothing. A woman, without her, man is nothing. The first statement implies that a woman needs a man to be valued. In the second statement, the roles are switched and suggest that man needs a woman to be something. Both statements praise the identical concept of needing the opposite sex to be something. "When something is missing in your life, it usually turns out to be someone" - Robert Brault. Can obtaining the opposite sex as a mate be morally justified to make something of yourself? Or is acquiring a companion just a means of selfish lusts and desires? People marry for many different reasons, sometimes for love and sometimes for other selfish reasons such as increased wealth and reputation. In the 19th century, a controversy arose over what the true foundation and purpose for marriage should be. The basis of this conflict was whether one should let reason or emotion be the guide of their love life and if a balance between the two could be maintained. In Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen creates her protagonist, Elizabeth Bennet, to be a strikingly unconventional female with respect to her time. Mr. Darcy is described to be the archetype of an aloof romantic hero, an aristocrat, a comparable Prince Charming. Austen's influential novel "Pride and Prejudice", written in 1813 portrays the underlying satirized themes of women and femininity, love and class, as this narrative effectively illustrates the different social conflicts of 19th century England.

In Pride and Prejudice, Austen paints the different issues involving women, femininity and the stereotypical depiction of women being housewives during the 19th century. The novel demonstrates how people such as the character Charlotte need to marry men they may not love, simply to gain financial security. The novel offers a startlingly complete continuum of women characters, such as Lydia and Mrs. Bennet on one side as the least responsible and capable, and with Lady de Bourgh on the other as the most powerful and controlling. Elizabeth is viewed as an alternative role model for females. By providing a female character who is bold, independent, honest, and forthright, Jane Austen is making a radical critique of the social construction of female identity in early nineteenth-century England. Austen creates the character of Elizabeth to demonstrate another way of personifying the female perspective and to lead a way to change the female stereotype. "And we mean to treat you all," added Lydia, "but you must lend us the money, for we have just spent hours at the shop out there." Then, showing her purchases—"Look here, I have bought this bonnet. I do not think it is very pretty; but I thought I might as well buy it as not. I shall pull it to pieces as soon as I get home, and see if I can make it up any better." And when her sisters abused it as ugly, she added, with perfect unconcern, "Oh! but there were two or three much uglier in the shop; and when I have bought some prettier-coloured satin to trim it with fresh, I think it will be very tolerable. Besides, it will not much signify what one wears this summer, after the ——shire have left Meryton, and they are going in a fortnight."- (Austen, 332) Lydia is the collection of all the worst stereotypes of women, somewhat unintelligent, not financially educated, fixated on men, and fashion. Austen satirizes this and emphasizes that women should be taught something other than how to be visibly appealing to find a husband of profound wealth and great fortune. The entailment of Mr. Bennet's estate leaves his daughters in a poor financial situation which requires them to marry someone for financial foundation. Clearly, Austen believes that women are as intelligent and capable as men, and considers their inferior status in society to be unjust. She herself went against tradition by remaining single and earning a living through her novels. In her personal letters...
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