Professor Iryce Baron
Pride and Prejudice has become famous in the genre of fictional romance since its first published. The novel is similar to a fairy tale, female character, Elizabeth Bennet, unavoidably marries her knight in shining armor, Mr. Darcy. However, this romanticism is significantly altered by an underlying theme concerning gender politics and importance of marriage. Not only in the novel, but in films there are plenty of scenes where reader can explore the interspatial relationship between interior and exterior spaces.
The class illustrated in the novel is related to reputation, in that both reflect the strict nature of life for the middle and upper classes in Regency England. The lines are strictly drawn. Austen criticizes this kind of class-consciousness, particularly in the character of Mr. Collins, who spends most of his time thinking that he is better than others, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Though Mr. Collins shows an extreme example, he is not the only one to hold such attitudes. His idea of the importance of class is shared with others; Miss Bingley, who dislikes anyone who is not as socially accepted as she is; and Wickham, who will do anything he can to get enough money to raise himself into a higher status. However, Mr. Collin’s view is the most extreme and obvious. While the Bennets, who are middle class, may socialize with the upper-class Bingleys and Darcys, they are clearly their social inferiors and are treated as such. However, not only the social differences but the gender differences make clear boundaries between characters as Austen use imagery of window and nature.
The daughters of Mr. Bennet, Elizabeth and her four sisters are trapped living in a patriarchal society where a woman’s value is judged by the amount of money and property owned by either their father or husband. As they have no rights to their father’s inheritance when he dies, they are expected to marry men whom have their own wealth and property (29). This expectation in marriage and the view that men are naturally superior to women shows the ordinary norms that have established social boundaries between male and female spaces. The window appeared in both novel and film symbolizes this gender divide to signify the oppression of women in marriage.
In the beginning of the BBC mini-series of Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Bennet goes to visit Mr. Bingley, a wealthy bachelor who has recently purchased the large estate of Netherfield. In return for Mr. Bennet;s trip, Mr. Bingley makes a visit to the Bennet household at Longbourn. The Bennet women “had the advantage of ascertaining from an upper window, that he wore a blue coat and rode a black horse” (Austen 11) when Mr. Bingley arrives. The location of these ladies on the second floor seems like in a bedroom or drawing room. It is representative of the traditional gender norms of the time period. In the view of patriarchal society, a woman’s proper place was inside the household, separate from the outdoor male present and the male business world. While the women are upstairs in their own space, Mr. Bingley and Mr. Bennet are in the library. At the time, the library is male’s private place, being a place of business where one acquires knowledge and becomes related with the outside world. While Mr. Bingley’s speaking, the female and male sphere is kept entirely separated. Even though “he had entertained hopes of being admitted to a sight of the young ladies,…he saw only the father”(11) Mr. Bennet is in control of every situation and he does not allow the male-female boundaries to be crossed, ensuring the protection of his daughters from the male sexual eye. However the view that the ladies get of Mr. Bingley “from an upper window” is not much better (11). Since the window they peer through is unclear, they are given a twisted perspective of the males’ exterior world. All that they could make out of Mr. Bingley from this view is