“A woman cannot be herself in the society of the present day, which is an exclusively masculine society,…that judges feminine conduct from a masculine point of view.” -Henrik Ibsen, From Ibsen’s Workshop
In your novel, is this quote an accurate assessment of the female protagonist’s life?
From Susan B. Anthony to Eleanor Roosevelt, Sandra Day O’Connor to Clara Barton, our world has progressed into a more equal and just place for women since the dark days of the 1800s. Each decade has experienced a new breakthrough, whether it was watching Amelia Earhart fly across the Atlantic or Queen Elizabeth I take over the English monarchy. With each new record we break or prize we win, the women of the twenty first century are shattering the idea of the masculine society, and modernizing our customs to fit the ideals of the present day. Jane Austen, an activist herself, lived deep within the rules of a masculine society. With the gender rules clearly defined, women lived with less rights they could count on one hand, causing the viscous cycle of the reliance on men for money, social acceptance, and family relations to persist for many generations. Pride and Prejudice, published in 1813 and set in this time, expresses the hardships of a masculine society for women like Elizabeth Bennet, who were not blind to the wrongdoings of society. While many women of the day chose to conform to social norms, Elizabeth lived her life independently in an effort to achieve true happiness. Although ultimately did marry, a custom of the 1800s, she did so on her own terms, only after potentially jeopardizing a life of security along the way. In the patriarchal society present in Pride and Prejudice, a system of entailment backed each marital contract, which stated inherited property must only go to male heirs. This legal system perpetuated the masculine society, as women were pressured to search for a husband to attain financial security. Charlotte Lucas, Elizabeth’s best...
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