How Do Jane Austen And E.M Forster Portray Their Heroines As Remarkably Independent?

1658 words - 7 pages

The independence of the heroines in “Pride and Prejudice” and “A Room With a View” can be defined by their unconventional views and the fearlessness that they display. In “Pride and Prejudice”, Austen presents her heroine Elizabeth as having unconventional views on marriage and society. It is clear that in Austen’s choice of Elizabeth she is presenting an alternative role model for the women of Regency society. Similarly, in “A Room With a View”, E.M Forster’s heroine Lucy demonstrates an independence and fearlessness in her choices which challenges society’s expectations.
Elizabeth’s views are of crucial importance to her independence; both in her personal life and views of wider society. Elizabeth’s view of supporting her sister after hearing of her poor health enables her to walk to Netherfield, unconcerned with what others think of her: “the distance is nothing, when one has a motive; only three miles”. Elizabeth’s desire to see Jane was unconventional since the only form of transportation to Netherfield was by foot this is expressed in Mary’s comment “exertion should always be in proportion to what is required". Elizabeth’s views are especially manifested in her attitude towards marriage. Elizabeth’s view of marrying someone you love and respect allows her to reject two proposals despite the threat of poverty. Elizabeth strongly believes in marrying for love “nothing but the very deepest love will induce me into matrimony”. This view on marriage was not shared by society as one’s wealth and social class were often the inducer of matrimony, thus making Elizabeth’s view highly unprecedented. Additionally, Jane Austen observed that “Single women have a dreadful propensity for being poor which is one very strong argument in favour of matrimony” (Austen) this statement from Austen reveals an understanding of society’s attitude towards marriage; however it is clear from the views on marriage she portrays through Elizabeth that she also understands the counter view. Furthermore, irony is evident in this statement, in the verb “dreadful” which suggests that there is an underling problem in Regency England, where women are the oppressed victims of a patriarchal society and matrimony was the only alternative, this is reinforced in Regency law where women did not legally own any money or property unless they were widowed or heiresses, accompanied by the accepted belief that “Men have a larger share of reason bestowed on them” (Dr Gregory). Moreover, this irony suggests that Austen did not agree with this approach on marriage. In “A Room With A View” Lucy exhibits confidence in her independent views, when purchasing Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus”, where Venus is nude, “Miss Bartlett had persuaded her to do without it”, however; Lucy trusts her own unconventional opinion and taste consequently, displaying independence.
Elizabeth’s independent views are evident in her actions; a prime example is her rejection of the marriage proposals of Mr...

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