Pride and Prejudice Final Essay

Submitted By rutahan
Words: 1268
Pages: 6

Compared to the past two centuries, women have made significant advancements when considering the oppression faced in the movement to gain equal rights. However, the world has surprisingly a long way to go if thought about closely, and the concept of women’s oppression is not just an idea of the past. Women are still maltreated in multiple industries, such as lower wages than their male counterparts in the workforce, the concept that women do not have the right to decide to abort a child, and even the simple notion that women are thought to be irrational creations for about five to seven days each month. Usually, men are the ones who make decisions in regards to these corrupted concepts, but in her novel, Austen does not blame on men, but rather she focuses on how women often disempower those of their own gender. During her lifetime, women gained their husbands’ social class, therefore, if a woman wanted power in the social class system, she would have to get married to someone wealthy, which would also assure her financial security. Both of these concepts combined create a very competitive­natured community where women often competed with each other to gain social mobility in the social class hierarchy. In Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen constructs a community of women who strictly abide to certain class expectations, adhering to society’s vision of the ideal female. Thus, women raise the standards of the qualities for a suitable wife in “marriage market” of 19th century England and create a hard to attain stereotype, resulting the their own disempowerment.
Throughout the novel, Caroline Bingley criticizes Elizabeth’s manner and physicality in order to make herself seem more appealing to Mr. Darcy. Her belief that no woman can be considered “accomplished” until they have “a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages”, creates high expectations for women to be respected in society (39). Here, Austen refers to certain talents that women should have, and furthermore,

many of these talents are markers of status and wealth. By saying that an “accomplished” woman should have these certain abilities, she must have some sort of wealth background prior to marriage, and only after learning how to do each of these individual arts, they will be suitable for marriage. In the same passage, she states that women “must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking” (39). “Certain” applies to a particular mood that a woman would have to make her appealing in the competitive marriage market in 19th century England. Even down to a woman’s “manner of walking” determines a successful future marriage. In the same scene, Caroline regards Elizabeth as one who “seeks” to better themselves by “undervaluing” their abilities (39­40). Austen’s use of “seek” to describe someone who desperately looks for acceptance, and thus, Caroline makes Elizabeth seem as though she only desires to be the center of attention by “undervaluing” herself, or putting herself down to elevate herself in the eyes of
Darcy. Caroline creates high expectations for women, and simultaneously, attempts to discredit
Elizabeth to make herself seem to be a more suitable wife.
Lady Catherine de Bourgh also makes Elizabeth feel inferior by referencing societal expectations that she[Elizabeth] does not explicitly follow. During Elizabeth’s visit to Rosings,
Lady Catherine expresses her belief that Elizabeth should have had a “governess” and interprets that thus, she has a very “neglected” life (161). Jane Austen’s use of the term “governess” suggests that perhaps Jane and her sisters are not governed at all in a sense and therefore, they are somewhat lesser than someone who did receive a formal education. By saying that they
“ought all to have learned”, Austen intends for Lady Catherine’s character to make Elizabeth feel insubordinate, as though she is somehow behind or lacking in comparison