Pride and Prejudice: Feminism Then and Now

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Bride and Prejudice, Gurinder Chadha’s Bollywood film adaption of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, has many similarities and differences to the original novel. Chadha stays true to Austen’s original plot ¬¬¬¬of romance, marriage and gender. However, she adds modern and cultural aspects to make the film more relatable and accessible to today’s viewers. For example, characters use cell phones, e-mail, and contemporary language with slang. Austen remains with proper language. Additionally, Bride and Prejudice depicts the role of feminism in India and its incorporation into the country’s development. This essay will examine the novel’s and the film’s explorations of feminism as portrayed through the novel’s character Elizabeth Bennet and her Indian counterpart, Lalita. The movie takes place in current times in a small Indian farming village with a few scenes in London and Los Angeles. The setting fits this story of flourishing romance because India is beginning to flourish itself as a relatively recent independent nation. Other first world countries, such as England and the United States, outsource and invest in India, exposing the changing nation to global perspectives, including feminism. As the cultures mingle, India’s social traditions of arranged marriages for financial benefit, as exhibited in Lalita’s internal conflict, begin to break down. Lalita feels torn between being loyal to her country’s and family’s values of marriage and her wish to exercise individuality through rebellion against her duty to marry symbolizes feminism’s evolution in the movie. In the early 1800’s, Pride and Prejudice’s setting, women had virtually no rights in both society and in the home. They could not own property, did not dare to discuss politics nor were they awarded custody of their children in a rare divorce. A wealthy man would be their only means of financial security, making marriage the business of women. Slowly however, times were progressing. Women began to work...
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