Karim 1 AGentle opposition Pride and Prejudice a ‘romance novel’based on a backdrop of 18th century England, may not seem like an ideal choicefor a feminist novel but when viewed from the perspective in which it was set,several observations can be made which makes a strong case for Jane Austen tobe named as one of the first few empowered female authors of her time. The iconic line that begins the novel”A single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of awife”(Austen,Chapter 1) sets the tone with a rather shrewd and cynicaldefinition of the marriage market where men owning large fortunes are prey formothers with single daughters. The whole business of marriage is considered ahunt and chase and by putting the protagonist’s mother as someone showingsimilar traits to the theme, the author tries to give an inside glimpse to thereader by showing conversations amongst family members which uphold thedifferent viewpoints of the family. Mrs. Bennet herself is shown to be acunning strategist in her endeavors to marry her daughters. She tries to sendMr. Bennet off to pay his respects to their new neighbors so that the gentlemenmay return the favor and in the process meet her pretty marriageable daughters.When Jane is invited over to the Bingley estate, her mother Karim2 sends her off without a carriage so as toextend her visit further and give Mr Bingley enough time to fall in love withher.
Although her obnoxiousbehavior is shown as a comedic satire of a Victorian-era mother, Mrs. Bennetpersonifies the perception of the time. Women, in general, were treated ascommodities and in the broader aspect what Mrs. Bennet wants is to secure herdaughter’s future in an uncertain world, which is no different from what MissBingley wants for herself or Lady de Bourgh wants for her daughter, furtherinto the novel. This highlights another facet to the position of women insociety since what we understand from it is, it does not matter if you are amember of the gentry or belong to a lower class, women were born to serve a purposewhich was to marry and procreate. Other characters withinthe novel from example Jane, the eldest daughter is described as someone who isdocile in manners and nature and although her beliefs are progressive, her shyattitude stifles her true emotions and makes it take a backseat, making her theideal woman of her time. Whereas Elizabeth the second daughter in the Austenlineup is where things get interesting.
Lizzie as her family calls her has an Karim 3 opinion. Her tendency to speak her mind mayhave been called spirit at the time, but if talked in 21st-century terms it iscalled an opinion. Her views are what intelligent women (like Jane) at thetime, may have thought but didn’t have the courage to say out loud. Herconstant opposition of Mr. Darcy, a character who has a strong social standingin society with dialogues such as “Thereis a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will ofothers. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.
” (Austen,Chapter31) unveils the strong character in her. Although she understands theconsequence of going against someone with Mr. Darcy’s influence, she is notafraid to say what she feels. Austen explores the concept of freedom of speechwith her character in a setting where females were not allowed to own land andviewed as the property of her husband after marriage. In a bid to give hergeneration a voice, Austen makes Elizabeth her mouthpiece.
Whereas lessercharacters are shown to give in to societal pressure, for example, CharlotteLucas when she settles with Mr. Collins, Elizabeth remains constant in herbeliefs and is not ready to compromise even to secure her sister’s future. Thisdecision is accompanied by taunts from her mother and results in Elizabethbeing called selfish, but in literary terms this a severe diversion from theself-sacrificing image of popular heroines, that was created by authors of theera. To further humanize her heroine Austen gives Elizabeth the trait ofoverconfidence which Karim4 translates to the central theme of prejudice.When she falls for the charming manners and exterior polish of Mr.Wickham andmisjudges Mr Darcy’s from a first impression gone wrong, Elizabeth has to realize hermistake gradually as the story progresses and understand that in spite of herwit, she can be wrong too.
Another pro-feminist supporter within thenovel is not the highly influential Lady de bourgh or the rich Bingley sisters,rather it is the Bennet sisters own father, whose liberal upbringing of hisdaughters may seem nothing out of ordinary but at the time would have appeared shocking to his peers,Rather than lament over the fact that he has 5 daughters he takes pride in hiseldest Jane and Elizabeth and respects their thought. When faced with Mr. Darcyasking for Elizabeth’s hand in marriage, he asks his daughter about her opinionon the matter even though the match is most advantageous for the Bennets Throughout the novelJane Austen tries to state her own perspective through the actions of hercharacter. Be it Elizabeth with her radical views or Charlotte with her quietacceptance, her characters give a clear understanding of the societal structureand women in general. Through a deeper analysis we can see that not much haschanged for women, though we are independent on paper but are we truly?.
Thus Austen’s Karim 5 gentle opposition still finds relevance even inthe 21st century making Pride and Prejudice one of the most famousnovels of all time. Work Cited Austen,Jane. Pride and prejudice. Thomas Egerton, 1813. The Republic of Pemberley.http://pemberley.
com/janeinfo/ppv1n01.htmlAccessed date 3rdDecember 2017. Austen, Jane. Pride and prejudice. Thomas Egerton, 1813. Authorama.
http://www.authorama.com/pride-and-prejudice-31.htmlAccessed date 6thDecember 2017.