Pride and Prejudice tells a story of a young girl in the midst of a very materialistic society. Jane Austen uses the setting to dramatize the restraints women had to endure in society. As the novel develops, we see how women have to act in a way according to their gender, social class, and family lineage. Elizabeth Bennet’s sisters represent the proper societal lady while Lizzy is the rebel. Through her characters Austen shows how a women’s happiness came second to the comfort of wealth. As the plot develops, events are laid out to illustrate how true love is unattainable when women marry for intentions of wealth. Women have very specific and limited roles in a society where men are the superior. In Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen portrays Elizabeth Bennet as a heroine who reaches happiness by rebelling against the societal and gender roles of the time period. Austen’s novel follows Elizabeth Bennet ‘s struggle as she breaks these expectations of a woman.
Jane Austen introduces her characters together at the beginning to enforce the strong family ties running through Pride and Prejudice. We learn that Elizabeth Bennet is stuck in the middle of a family of five sisters whose sole purposes are to get married. Mrs. Bennet’s only job in the household is to find suitable matches for each one of her daughters. In the first couple pages of the novel we see prejudice of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet for their daughters. In responding to Mrs. Bennet’s demands for an introduction of Mr. Bingley, Mr. Bennet shows his pride in Elizabeth:
You are over-scrupulous, surely. I dare say Mr. Bingley will be glad to see you; and I will send a few lines by you to assure him of my hearty consent to his marrying whichever he chuses of the girls: though I must throw in a good word for my little Lizzy…They have none of them much to recommend them…they are silly and ignorant, like other girls; but Lizzy has something more of quickness than her sisters.” (Pride and Prejudice, 8)
Mr. Bennet sees a part of himself in his daughter. Elizabeth has the wit and intelligence that other women would shy aware from in this society, and as her father, Mr. Bennet wants the best for Lizzy. According Juliet McMaster of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, “Elizabeth, to her lasting glory, has style, and much of her style is an inheritance from her father. ‘She has a lively, playful disposition,’ we hear at the outset, ‘which delighted in any thing ridiculous (12)’...She behaves not so much according to the model of romance as according to the model set by her father.” (80) He loves his other daughters, but they are “like other girls”, fitting the perfect mold into society. He thinks of his Lizzy as a special jewel worth proper time to ensure a husband who will treasure her qualities. However; Mrs. Bennet has conflicting opinions of those of her husband, favoring Jane over Elizabeth. “I desire you to do no such thing. Lizzy is not a bit better than the others; and I am sure she is not half so...