Jane Austen’s Approach To Feminism In Pride And Prejudice

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Women in the late 18th early 19th century did not have much choice when it came to their future. They could either get married or become governesses, that if they were educated enough. Their life was shaped mostly by their families whom tried to find them a husband who would support them. Although in her age, women were regarded as emotional, weak, nurturing, and submissive, Jane Austen depicts her heroine Elizabeth as a woman who has her own perspective, feelings, and opinions. This paper will examine Austen's feminism through an analysis of the heroine in Pride And Prejudice. The examination will study Austen's presentation of Elizabeth's Austen presentation of her feminist believes through Elizabeth in regards to marriage, depiction of women by men, identity, as well as the patriarchal society they lived in.

Literature Review:

Brown, Lloyd W. 'Jane Austen and the Feminist Tradition.' Nineteenth-Century Fiction, vol. 28, no. 3, 1973, pp. 321-338. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/2933003. Accessed 12 Oct, 2019.

· Brown argued that Jane Austen’s concentration on the failures in Marriage is best understood in her relations to her skepticism about the male definitions of female emotions, sexuality, education, and modesty. The researcher will use it to examine the earliest feminists and their potential influence on Jane Austen.

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Cox, C. B. 'Jane Austen as Free Spirit.' The Hudson Review, vol. 40, no. 2, 1987, pp. 331-336. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3851114. Accessed 12 Oct, 2019.

· The writer suggests that Jane Austen's style of writing has resisted literary criticism. Her playful wit, her trenchant irony, so often turn turgid when translated into detailed analysis of her themes. Her tone and style, the modesty and unpretentiousness of her performance, disarm us. leave us more inclined to know more. The researcher will use this to her style of writing.

Chin-Yi, Chung. “Gender and Class Oppression in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.”. The Dawn Journal, Vol. 3, NO. 2, July-December 2014. Accessed 12 Oct. 2019

· Chin-Yi chung, argued that the reason why Austen herself chose to remain single, even though she had a couple of suitors, was because the patriarchal society that was dominated by men in the 18th century, and the way women were treated as objects. The only way to escape the poverty and low status was to marry a rich man. The researcher will use this to provide a background on how women were portrayed as during these times

Looser, Devoney. “Jane Austen, Political Symbol Of Early Feminism.” NEWS AND CULTURE, Literary Hub,18 July, 2017, https://lithub.com/jane-austen-political-symbol-of-early-feminism/. Accessed 12 Oct, 2019.

· Devoney explained that Austen was chosen in the suffrage movement despite having only recently achieved the designation of “significant” to literary history. She quickly become one of the most frequently and prominently used “great women” chosen to serve as an “effective role model” to the women’s suffrage movement. The researcher will use this to show Jane Austen’s influence through her writings.

Sutherland, Kathryn. “Jane Austen and social judgment.” British library, 15 may, 2014. https://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/jane-austen-and-social-judgement. Accessed 12 Oct. 2019.

· Kathryn Sutherland considers Jane Austen’s portrayal of female characters and her harshly moralistic outlook to be will justified considering the times in which she lived. The researcher will use this to give an insight to Jane Austen’s characters influence through her books.

…, “Jane Austin, “The novel and social realism.” Discovering Literature: Romantics & Victorians, British Library, https://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/videos/jane-austen-the-novel-and-social-realism. Accessed 12 Oct. 2019.

· Kathryn Sutherland discusses Jane Austen’s ground-breaking use of social realism and her focus on the everyday mundane life. The researcher will use this to provide a social background on Jane Austen's times.

Biography.com, Ed. 'Jane Austen Biography', The Biography.com, A&E Television Networks, 2 April, 2014. https://www.biography.com/writer/jane-austen. Accessed 17 Oct. 2119.

· Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775, in Stevenson, Hampshire, England. While not widely known in her own time, Austen's comic novels of love among the landed gentry gained popularity after 1869, and her reputation skyrocketed in the 20th century. Her novels, including Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, are considered literary classics, bridging the gap between romance and realism.

Skwire, Sarah. “Jane Austen Vindicates the Rights of Women.” Foundation For Economic Education, 16 June, 2016. https://www.google.com/amp/s/fee.org/articles/jane-austen-vindicates-the-rights-of-women//amp. Accessed 12 Oct. 2019

· Skwire argued that while Austen’s and Wollstonecraft’s works are more than capable of standing on their own, taken together they provide a persuasive argument, philosophical and artistic for the importance of women’s liberty and for the crippling effects of denying that liberty. The researcher will use this to differentiate Mary Wollstonecraft’s approach to Jane Austen in regards to feminism.


This paper will examine Austen's feminism through an analysis of the heroine in Pride And Prejudice. This paper will be divided as follows:

1. Introduction:

A survey on women's lives during the late 18th early 19th century, as well as Austen's feminism depicted through her heroine Elizabeth. This paper will examine Austen's feminism through an analysis of the heroine in Pride And Prejudice. In Georgian England, Mrs. Bennet raises her five daughters: Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Kitty and Lydia with the purpose of getting married with a rich husband that can support the family. They are from the middle class and their house will be inherited by a distant cousin if Mr. Bennet dies. When the rich Mr. Bingley and his friend Mr. Darcy arrive in town to spend the summer in a mansion nearby their property, the shy and beautiful Jane falls in love for Mr. Bingley, and Lizzie finds Mr. Darcy a snobbish and proud man, and she swears to loathe him forever. After which she was proven wrong, that Mr. Darcy did in fact help her as well as her family a lot, her perspective of him began to change, thus she accepted his marriage proposal. The following chapters will discuss women's education, marriage, and what they had to do to achieve financial security in the late 18th early 19th century, as well as society's attitude towards women, more specifically Elizabeth, and Jane Austen common themes in her novels, and most importantly, her feminism.

2. Chapter I: Women's education, marriage, and financial security in the 18th century.

Education was mainly for the males and domestic chores were the only right for the woman. All women had to abode the stereotypical views of the patriarchal society. Women were isolated with men in terms of education, employment as well as social status. They just learnt household chores without any opportunity to stand on own two feet and create their own financial as well as future securities. During the 1800s, courtship was a central focus in a woman's life, as they depended on an advantageous marriage for financial survival. Elizabeth Bennet is a headstrong and strikingly intelligent woman, who knows that she does not want to be regarded as one of the spineless, submissive, docile women with whom she shares her society with. She may inhabit a society stuffed with insufferable snobbery and rigid social codes, but she rejects the bindings of convention, believing firmly that women have every right to be as happy as men.

3. Chapter II: Society's attitude towards women through Elizabeth.

Elizabeth's strength of mind is demonstrated in her propensity to speak her mind and say what she believes is right, whether or not they fit the hearer's ears or social restrictions placed upon her. She may inhabit a society stuffed with insufferable snobbery and rigid social codes, but she rejects the bindings of convention, believing firmly that women have every right to be as happy as men. Throughout Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth is confronted with numerous situations in which her character and mindset are tested. It is clear to the reader, through her thoughts, actions, and interactions with other characters, that she is a woman far ahead of her time, whose strong personality, belief in freedom in marriage and her revolutionary ideas about social class end up benefitting her in the long run.

4. Chapter III: Jane Austen and feminism.

Austen's feminism is evident in her attempt to defy social norms and standards of women and portray that into Elizabeth.

5. Chapter IV: Jane Austen's recurring themes.

If there is one striking common theme in Jane Austen’s novels, it would be marriage. The pursuit for true love was often depicted to have passed through a series of turmoil and rejection, of heartbreak and anguish; but the perpetrators of love stood victorious in the end.


This paper will prove that Austen was a feminist that represented women as strong, independent, whom had their own perspective, feelings, and opinions, thus portraying Elizabeth to break those stereotypes of women at her time.

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Jane Austen’s Approach To Feminism In Pride And Prejudice. (2022, March 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 13, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/jane-austens-approach-to-feminism-in-pride-and-prejudice/
“Jane Austen’s Approach To Feminism In Pride And Prejudice.” Edubirdie, 17 Mar. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/jane-austens-approach-to-feminism-in-pride-and-prejudice/
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