Womens and Genders Studies Essay

Submitted By Sarahdurrer
Words: 836
Pages: 4

Essay topic 1B

Sarah Durrer
Women’s and Gender Studies-1808 B
Dr. Debra Graham
Women’s and Gender Studies- B02
December 3rd, 2012

Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice is critical of the gender injustices of the 19th century. The story revolves around Mr. and Mrs. Bennet and their five unmarried daughters, Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Catherine, and Lydia. The main interest of Mrs. Bennet’s life is to see that all five of her daughters marry, preferably to wealthy men. Throughout the novel it is evident that women are disempowered and live in the shadow of men. Even though both men and women have gender expectations, women are restricted, dependent and controlled due to their expectations, where as men have more control and freedom. Through the courtships of the five daughters, it becomes evident to the reader what the role of an ideal woman is. A woman who can sing, dance, play a musical instrument, sew and have other artistic abilities along with being very modest and agreeable is the perfect lady. A woman was expected to be passive, marry early, bear children and support her husband whenever needed. Women only received education for preparation of their social life and, were only to marry for financial security. A woman must act a certain way to be respected. These expectations made woman conform. “ A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, all the modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner or walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half deserved (Austen 35).” Miss Bingley said this, the fact that she is a woman and said this statement proves that not only do women not have free will but also they support the conformity. Austen juxtaposes the ideal women and Miss Bingley to show whom the ideal women really is. This makes the reader realize the sexism that takes place in the novel, and favor characters such as Elizabeth who is a leader for feminist notions. Likewise to woman, men had certain expectations they had to live up to. Unlike women, the role of men in society provided them with freedom and authority. The Bennet family consists of daughters and no sons. This is a problem, because if Mr. Bennet were to die, all of his money and possessions would be passed along to a male cousin in the family. This is why Miss Bennet focuses on marrying off her daughters to wealthy men. When interacting with men the daughters learn that they are expected to bow their heads, a sign of submission, and at balls they learn that they are to keep a certain distance from their partners during dances. Men are the dominant and independent. When Mr. Collins proposes to Elizabeth he is rejected. Mr. Collins believes that Elizabeth is just playing hard to get, men are not used to hearing the word no from women, as they are inferior to men and not equal. This is why a man has options of whom he wants to marry but a woman must accept her first suitor. Throughout class discussion I found that, the purpose of Elizabeth turning down the proposal was to show that