February 26, 2015
Pride and Prejudice
In Jane Austen’s
and Prejudice, Elizabeth makes the strong choice to wait for love even though it may never come. Disregarding a class system and rejecting her family’s ideas of her social duty, Elizabeth questions the society she was born into where marrying for wealth and social status is more common than marrying for love and suitability.
Elizabeth tries very hard to create a life for herself instead of following the status quo of marrying for security instead of love. She pushes her way past people who believe otherwise and feels that nothing should hold her back from doing what she truly wants to do and who she truly wants to be.
It has been noted that, “Pride and Prejudice is a philosophical novel both in the sense of presenting a philosophy in exposition and of embodying a philosophy in action, and literary criticism exercises its proper function by expounding that philosophy and by explicating and clarifying the thought and action of the novel by means of it.” (McKeon 512)
Elizabeth has her own philosophy with everything she does. She has different views on marriage, on the roles of women, and on society in general. She refuses to believe that women are only meant to marry wealthy
young bachelors. She questions her family and their views, such as her mother’s wishes to marry rich and young. She is also uncertain of her friends, and questions if they are truly people with which she wants to be surrounded. Elizabeth believes she understands herself and understands what she wants, but she is blinded by her own pride to see what she really needs to do so she can finally be happy.
Elizabeth is questioning the importance of her social status from the first page. “It is a truth universally acknowledge, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” (Austen 1)
She fights her mother and her silly ideas of marrying rich. She fights her sisters because they do not agree with her point of view and they don’t seem to want to understand her thinking. She also fights Darcy because he continues to judge her even though they truly love each other. The social implications of her decisions are severe. It was noted that, “Social position is of consuming importance in the novels, with individuals and families measuring their relative standings to the finest degree while devising long-term strategies for advancement in status” (Johnson 51). In fact, the
Bennet’s social position is decreasing more and more each day because of the rising age of the five sisters.
With Mrs. Bennet beginning to stress about the dwindling estate, she begins to plan her daughters’ weddings with rich, young bachelors. Of course, Elizabeth deplores this idea. She doesn’t want to be just another
woman who is marrying rich to help her family. Elizabeth wants to marry for love, but she begins to believe it doesn’t exist. Elizabeth begins to focus on her own pride instead of her family’s. This causes her to feel many prejudices against the people whom she has grown up with and surrounded herself with.
Elizabeth denies her love for Darcy because of her sense of pride, and refuses to admit she is wrong. Although the main point seems to be “love” to the blind eye, between the lines the reader will understand that the true idea is social class and its twisted deception. Jane Austen uses Elizabeth as a catalyst for the reader’s own ideas. Through reading the book
, readers begin thinking about modern society. Although society today is different than Austen’s time, many of these ideas are still very relevant today. The idea of women not always being relegated to the position of homemaker is relevant in today’s society, and that is exactly what Austen hoped to achieve. She wanted to see a world where women could be equal and not regarded as second class citizens. She wanted a woman to be seen as a peer and not just