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Gender Inequality In Emma By Jane Austen And Great Expectations By Charles Dickens

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The roles of Pip (Great Expectations, Charles Dickens) and Emma ( Emma, Jane Austen) are both developed through the influences of social class, money, and the people around them. In the Novels, Emma by Jane Austen, and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, the authors maintain a theme of limitations within gender equality, mostly the role of women in society at their times, both took place in the 19th century. In the earlier century a woman’s place in society was not yet equal, although higher class women were taken more seriously because they did not have the need of a man for shelter,money or support, because of their wealth. The ideal woman in the 19th century would have been a wife who took care of the house, the husband and children.

Mrs Joe (Dickens)

In Charles Dickens, Great expectations, Mrs. Joe is Pip’s sister, seen as a cruel, grumpy stern figure to both her husband and Pip. Just like any other wife she kept the household clean and take care of her husband, although she wishes to be something more than that she is, the blacksmith’s wife. She is continuously mad that in their era, the only thing the wives are seen for is their husbands social status. She shows this through her comment “Perhaps if I wasn’t a blacksmith’s wife, and a slave with her apron never off, I should have been able to hear the carols” (Dickens 20) Perhaps her anger towards her place in society is what makes her attitude towards men like her husband and brother so poor. Eventually Mrs. Joe is beaten to death by a secret character which also goes to show the place in society women held with the small amount of attention anybody gave to the situation because it was a woman it was seemingly less important.

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Marriage (Austen)

In Jane Austens, Emma, women’s standards are shown through marriage. An ongoing idea in Austen’s Novel is how women must marry to be able to be financially stable and secure. Emma’s character despises this idea and wants more of a reason to marry than for social standing and wealth, for example real love, or in her case independence within herself. Emma represents the strong independent woman in the novel constantly meddling with others to push away feelings of a romantic. “”High in the rank of her most serious and heartfelt felicities, was the reflection that all necessity of concealment from Mr. Knightley would soon be over. The disguise, equivocation, mystery, so hateful to her to practise, might soon be over. She could now look forward to giving him that full and perfect confidence which her disposition was most ready to welcome as a duty.” ( Austen, 54 ) shows how Emma pushed away feelings for Mr.Knightley just because she did not want to be what she envisioned marriage to be, which was social standing, turning into property, and employment limitations. She believes she can match make for true love, and near the end of the novel after pushing her own feelings away she realise she does have feelings for Mr.Knightley after all.

Self Reflection

Both novels are themes as “coming of age” and so the characters go through parts in their lives where they must make mistakes and learn. In Emma by Jane Austen, she struggles with self growth a lot, instead she conceals the fears she has about the upcoming events in her life she must make choices about and she meddles with others lives and it sets in motion her learning to become and focus on herself. For a woman in her erra she has it very good, wealth, beauty, intelligence and youth, this causes her to ignore her self reflection and focus on empowerment of others, since she had no need to impress a man and make sure she is taken care of. ‘The real evils, indeed, of Emma ‘s situation were the power of having too much her own way, and a disposition to think a little too well of herself: these were the disadvantages which threatened alloy to her many enjoyments.’ (Austen 1). A good example of how Emma demonstrates her independence is hen she takes Harriet Smith under her wing, while she tried her best to reform her into a newer, better woman in society, sharing her mind set with Harriet, ‘She would notice her; she would improve her; she would detach her from bad acquaintances, and introduce her into good society; she would form her opinions and manners. It would be a kind undertaking, highly becoming her own situation in life…’ (Austen 17). Emma clearly is trying to avoid fixing herself by keeping busy with giving others a mind and body makeover. “Mr. Knightley hopes for their marriage to be built upon honesty and equality. Emma and Mr. Knightley have been equal in ways like intelligence and social status,” ( Ramos 4 ), this shows how near the end of the novel Emma comes to truth with her feelings and mind to realize her wrongs as well and Mr.Knightley, making a shared decision about their new lives together to be truly for love.

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Gender Inequality In Emma By Jane Austen And Great Expectations By Charles Dickens. (2022, Jun 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved January 27, 2023, from
“Gender Inequality In Emma By Jane Austen And Great Expectations By Charles Dickens.” Edubirdie, 09 Jun. 2022,
Gender Inequality In Emma By Jane Austen And Great Expectations By Charles Dickens. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 27 Jan. 2023].
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