ENGL 1001, Assignment 4
February 20, 2015
Upon reading Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austin, I believe the novel reinforces sexist stereotypes of women. One of the things that really struck me was the desire the women had to find themselves a husband. A husband who was wealthy was at the utmost importance for most of the women. A woman could talk bad of another woman in hopes of deterring a man of his interest in a particular woman as to give them a better opportunity that this man would desire them as their wife instead of any other woman.
The very opening words of Pride and Prejudice give the reader their first taste of what to expect: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
However little known the feelings of views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighborhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered as the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.”(Austen 3)
When the reader stops here and really thinks about what they are to expect from reading this novel, one might conclude that there would be some competition. The expectations could be that women may go to great lengths to get what they want. Jane Austen is able to create that initial interest as to the possibility the book will satisfy the readers want for juicy gossip.
We are able to see this transpire when Elizabeth walks three miles to see her sister, who was ill and unable to travel, to the Bingley residence. Jane Austen writes,
“’She has nothing, in short, to recommend her, but being an excellent walker. I shall never forget her appearance this morning. She really looked almost wild.”
“She did indeed, Louisa. I could hardly keep my countenance. Very nonsensical to come at all! Why must she be scampering about the country, because her sister has a cold? Her hair so untidy, so blowsy!”
“Yes, and her petticoat; I hope you saw her petticoat, six inches deep in mud, I am absolutely certain; and the gown which had been let down to hide it, not doing its office.” (Austen 24 – 25)
These sentences depict the cruelty of talking behind ones back with the goal of encouraging all that are listening to side with the one making the reference. This confirms the stereotype that women will act in any manner to try and win their prize of a claiming a wealthy man to be their husband.
Also, jealousy plays an important role as part of the deviousness that a woman portrays in her quest for a wealthy man as Miss Bingley’s actions display as stated, “Miss Bingley saw, or suspected enough to be jealous; and her great anxiety for the recovery of her dear friend Jane, received some assistance from her desire of getting rid of Elizabeth.
She often tried to provoke Darcy into disliking her guest, by talking of their supposed marriage, and planning his happiness in such an alliance.” (Austen 35 – 36)
Andrew Moore, who was well respected in his field, also acknowledged the obsession for these women to want to marry. Here is an excerpt from his website:
“Austen is not a critic of marriage as such but is deeply critical of the general female obsession with the institution. This is the novel's starting point, the ironical statement that a wealthy, single man must need a wife: this reflects the proprietorial attitude of those women who want to acquire a man and who know his needs better than he does. Great wealth and an elegant manner are a man's most important qualities; profundity and wisdom are unfashionable.