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The Representation Of Women In Pride And Prejudice By Jane Austen

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I am going to argue that the representation of women in Pride and Prejudice. I used 2 academic materials to help me explore my idea. One is Jane Austen’s ideal man in Pride and Prejudice and another one is Feminine consciousness in Jane Austen’s novels, which I already cited in the work cited part.

Pride and Prejudice is a novel by British female novelist Jane Austen. The novel describes Bennet’s five daughters, and the protagonist is the second daughter, Elizabeth. She met Darcy at the ball, but she heard that he was arrogant. So, His first image was not good in Elizabeth’s view. However, after some twists and turns, Elizabeth lifted his prejudice against Darcy. Darcy also put down arrogance, and they finally fall in love with each other. The content of Pride and Prejudice become popular in the society and the world situation in the conservative and occluded state from the end of the 18th century to the early 19th century. And has been adapted into movies and TV series many times.

In Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen used free indirect discourse, which means 3rd person narration that slips in and out of the characters’ consciousness and the thoughts of a character, feeling, words are filtered through the 3rd person narrator. Jane Austen describes five different pairs of the couple which represent five different marriage views in Pride and Prejudice.

The first couple is Bennet couples: blind marriage. From Jane’s portrayal, we can also see that the Bennett couple’s personality, hobbies and even the gap between thoughts. When Bennet was fascinated by her beauty, she found that Mrs. Bennet was just a short-sighted, stupid woman. Their marriage is the result of blind impulses, which is unfortunate.

The second couple is the marriage between Lydia and Wickham, it is driven by lust, and marriage is a failure. After the marriage, Wickham often went out to have fun, and Lydia often ran to her sister’s house and cried.

The third couple is Collins and Charlotte: Money marriage. In the Pride and Prejudice, Charlotte is the earliest marry of the five sisters. In her marriage to Collins, money accounts for a large proportion, and the factors of love are minimal. Charlotte can say that everything is except for her husband. This marriage, which is based on money and does not consider feelings, is tragic and has no happiness at all.

The fourth couple is Jane and Bentley: a happy marriage. Jane is a beautiful, gentle and dignified girl whose character matches the beauty. She is very admired for Bentley, but she is hidden in her heart. Bentley has a talent and a decent manner. The two are relatively close in character and relatively indecisive. After a while, the relationship between the two became deeper and deeper. Because of their character, their feelings were interrupted. But they have an emotional foundation, sincere love, and eventually, cross obstacles and enter the palace of marriage. Such a marriage is happy.

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The fifth couple is Elizabeth and Darcy which is the perfect marriage. The love of Elizabeth and Darcy has always shifted to the novel. Elizabeth is intelligent and independent and has a rational consideration of marriage. In her view, a marriage without an emotional foundation is unhappy. The process of Elizabeth’s search for true love in the novel reflects the true value of marriage. Elizabeth is self-respecting and self-love and has her ideas, the courage to pursue her happiness, and ultimately to be happy, but also has a lot of property. This kind of marriage is perfect, and it is also the marriage view of the author Jane Austen.

Modern women will consider a lot when choosing their lifelong partner. Is the basis of a happy marriage a love, wealth or other factors? But women of that era did not have this power.

“The existence of feminine consciousness is suggested in Jane Austen’s first five novels: Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice”,( Boarcas, Camelia,pg1022) I very agree with this idea, So I am going to talk it deeper.In this novel, the most important female image is Elizabeth. Because Elizabeth represents the author itself, she treats herself as Elizabeth in her novels. This can be seen in the social context of the author Jane Austen – “Jane Austen herself had no portion and could not afford a handsome dowry, which prevented one early mutual attraction from becoming anything serious. Later a fairly prosperous man proposed to her. However, her strong sense of independence and pursuit of spiritual happiness did not lead her to make a vulgar decision. ”(Gao, Haiyan, pg2) But it is not as bad as before, from another academic source “in the educated class of Austen’s society, the influence of women was especially powerful. Because their oppression did not extend to the experiences of poverty and illiteracy, educated women were more equipped to counter their political unimportance. They were also members of a class that had reached a point never reached before in the cultivation of arts and letters. ”(Boarcas, Camelia, pg1022) However, the women’s social status is still lower, we can see this historical fact from the academic sources I used.“ In the 19th century, marriage was dominated by the material base in English society. Social relationships and economic mode determined the rule of marriage. In Austen’s day, the only road for mid-class lady’s happy life was to marry well. The wrong choice of mate could spell social and financial disaster. Almost every woman’s ideal man was a millionaire or at least a single gentleman with a piece of an estate and much money every year. ”(Gao, Haiyan, pg1)

And Jane Austen really wanted to change something. So, the whole story in Pride and Prejudice is about marriage, which is exactly what Mrs. Bennet is worried about her five daughters. Although many feminists believe that marriage is not the ultimate destination for women, this novel still revolves around this topic. When Elizabeth chose marriage, the spirit of equality was reflected. Elizabeth’s choice of marriage is mainly reflected in two aspects: the first is her rejection of Collins; the second is her acceptance of Darcy. In a male-dominated society, women are second to men. Women’s choice of marriage is not based on their wishes, but the criteria of men’s decisions or social conventions. In the eyes of the people, because she has neither a decent family nor a rich background, Elizabeth’s best choice is to marry Mr. Collins. Even more, unfortunately, women do not have the right to inherit the inheritance. Mr. Collins is the inheritor of the estate. If they can combine, it is in line with recognized social norms. Elizabeth’s rejection is the best embodiment of feminism. She is different from other women in the small talk. She dared to say her thoughts and she dared to challenge social customs just like Jane Austen. She expressed contempt for the so-called social norms. When Elizabeth and Collins visited Lady Catherine, everyone was respectful to Mrs. Catherine, but she was free to say what she was thinking, not afraid to offend the rich and powerful Lady Catherine. Elizabeth is not afraid of power and money. This is exactly what is necessary for an independent woman. On the contrary, her good friend Charlotte, although as smart as Elizabeth, succumbed to reality, married Mr. Collins, to get a place to live. She believes that marriage is a way for women who have no property to get a comfortable life. From here, we can see the oppression of women’s thoughts in a patriarchal society. Elizabeth’s acceptance of Darcy’s love is a sign of her pursuit of equality as a feminist. The most interesting arrangement in the novel is not like the well-known Cinderella plot. Elizabeth, unlike the girl in the fairy tale, accepted his prince, Darcy. The traditional image of women is completely subverted in the novel. When Darcy asked her to marry, she said dissatisfaction with him and then refused firmly. Elizabeth became a heroine with a vision, not a helpless, passive, Cinderella waiting for her prince. Later, after the misunderstanding between Elizabeth and Darcy was lifted, although she was not right with Darcy, she did not wait quietly for her fate, but bravely chose her happiness. In marriage, her status with her husband is equal. Therefore, women can also be in a positive position in life. Since the women’s movement in the early 20th century, women have gradually gained the right to vote and have played an increasingly important role in society, such as in the medical profession, education, politics, and literature. Feminists have always insisted on gender equality and protesting discrimination from male society. Feminism, as a method of criticism, has promoted the development of literary criticism theory and social progress to a certain extent. Through clever plots and vivid language.

Through the women in the novel, the author is only trying to reflect three points. First of all, gender equality awareness. I should talk about more history of the UK in that time from academic sources I found. “women were discriminated in Austen’s time. If a woman from the gentry didn’t marry and had no family members who could take her in and provide for her, often the only somewhat respectable alternative was to become a governess or a teacher in a school. Even those positions, however, lowered her social status, making it almost impossible for her to attract a husband who could provide for her adequately. To make matters worse, the income she could earn through such means was, in most cases, barely enough for survival. Thus, marriage to an economically respectable man was considered to be the only legitimate choice for most women of the gentry or the aristocracy. It was a tradition that men inherited all fortune. Therefore, women had to obey and gain their life necessities through an adequate marriage.” (Gao, Haiyan, pg2) In the industrial revolution of the United Kingdom, society does not provide jobs for women. They can only rely on their parents or husbands. Their economic dependence determines the subordinate status of women. Even among the nobility and the middle class, women also have no status. Under this social reality, all that women do is to attract men’s attention and find a good home for themselves. The daily life of women in middle-class families is to accompany their parents and friends for a long time in various dances. They study and learn talents just to get the favour of men. It shows that white just wants to be a more worthy male. Accessories. In Pride and Prejudice, Miss Bingley and Darcy are right, but Bingley still tries her best to improve herself. The purpose is to please Darcy. Secondly, the basis of marriage. In Pride and Prejudice, Austin described her understanding of marriage. For example, Charlotte is a smart and beautiful woman, but she married Collins for money, which is based on pure money and interests; Lydia and Wickham ran away, which is based on pure passion Marriage on the basis; Mr. Bennett is greedy for the beauty of Mrs. Bennett, this is purely for a beautiful marriage. These marriages will eventually fail. The protagonist Elizabeth is smart and decisive, and Darcy is a perfect combination of talent and generosity, money and true love. In author Jane Austen’s view, the marriage between Jane and Bingley is happy, pure and kind, a well-informed, mutual love. But because Bingley is very indecisive, the love of the two encounters many twists and turns, but ultimately it is still the lover who will eventually become a genus, and the happy marriage will come to the end. However, if the marriage between Jane and Bingley is satisfactory, then the marriage between Elizabeth and Darcy is perfect. From acquaintance to prejudice, to re-recognition, they finally collide with the spark of love and interpret the perfection of love. In Austen’s view, money and love are the foundation of marriage. The lack of one of these two conditions is imperfect. As the basis of marriage, money is the material guarantee for marriage to happiness in the future; love is the premise of marriage, and only marriage full of love is happy. Elizabeth and Darcy, one is a male of the upper class, and the other is a woman from a middle-class family. Their union must be happy. It also shows Austin’s desire to weaken the gap between social classes and achieve free flow between classes. Finally, the value of women. At the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century, the British literary world was dominated by male writers and few female writers. In reality, Jane Austen is one of the female writers. She is not influenced by patriarchism. She has completed six books under various pressures, showing that women can also create more social values. ‘Pride and Prejudice’ has brought more thoughts to women in society. For women’s discrimination in society, Jane Austen really did a lot through novel Pride and Prejudice “Although her women characters lead restricted lives, her novels are not about restriction, not even about expression, but about the relationship between the two, about how women find ways to develop and assert their womanhood despite the restrictions placed on them. ”(Boarcas, Camelia, pg1022)

As a woman in society at that time, we must consider two factors when we go to the marriage hall. The most important thing about marriage is love. Only when love and investment are consistent, values ​​can be made to make a marriage happy. Money is the material condition of marriage and a key factor in determining the success of the future marriage. Because poverty can only turn happiness into an illusory bubble. Although marriage does not depend entirely on the matter, marriage without material security, happiness is difficult to guarantee.

Overall, Jane Austen ‘s novel has contributed to the advancement of women. She made lots of female characters. And representation of them makes this novel became classics and Pride and Prejudice taught to us an unspeakable truth: when the family is harmonious, everyone will be stable. The essence of love is an instinct for people to pursue a happy and happy life. The realization of this kind of essential love is the key to the ultimate harmony between family and society.

Works Cited

  1. Boarcas, Camelia. ‘Feminine Consciousness in Jane Austen’s novels.’ Journal of Research in Gender Studies, vol. 4, no. 2, 2014, p. 1021+. Gale Academic OneFile, Accessed 20 Nov. 2019.
  2. Gao, Haiyan. ‘Jane Austen’s ideal man in Pride and Prejudice.’ Theory and Practice in Language Studies, vol. 3, no. 2, 2013, p. 384+. Gale Academic OneFile, Accessed 20 Nov. 2019.

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The Representation Of Women In Pride And Prejudice By Jane Austen. (2022, Jun 16). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 29, 2023, from
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