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The Role Of Women In The Society Depicted By Jane Austen In Pride And Prejudice

2867 words - 11 pages

The Role of Women in the Society Depicted by Jane Austen in Pride and Prejudice

'Pride and Prejudice' is a novel which based in truth, explores
relationships between young men and women two hundred years ago. It is
not difficult for the reader to comprehend Jane Austen?s point of
view, but she presents her arguments in a subtle way. Not only is
it an admirable story of love lost and found, with an eventual happy
ending, it also tells us a vast amount about society at the time.
This, however, contrasts heavily with today's values and behaviours.
In particular the role of women then was quite different to the role
of women in the present day. Pride and Prejudice is mainly concerned
with women of a particular social class - the Bennett Family are not
poor, they are above the working class, but they are not extremely
rich either. Jane Austen explores the position of young women in this
situation by telling a story about what seams to be love, but is
actually a novel also about the role of women and how they used love
and marriage in life to gain what they wanted. She does this by
explaining to the reader about all of the necessities that a woman
should have, explaining about the different opinions of the different
characters in the novel, which are based on opinions of real people of
that time. This gives us, the twenty-first century reader, an insight
into the people, the lives and the attitudes of the time.

The financial status of women is perhaps the most significant aspect.
In ?Pride and Prejudice?, Jane Austen describes the exact financial
status of each of the characters. For example, when Mrs and Mr Bennet
are talking of Mr Bingley, ?A single man of large fortune, four or
five thousand a year. What a fine thing for our girls!? Here, through
the voice of Mrs Bennet, Jane Austen explains the importance of money
and how it affects each of the girls? lives. She does this, I think,
because how wealthy a person was so important and affected your way of
life so drastically it would be difficult not to include this
information about each character. A persons wealth would determine who
they were friends with, where they went to meet people and who they
could talk to. The life of a lower class person and the life of an
upper class person were drastically different. She explains how the
Bennet sisters will be near to penniless if they do not find a
suitable match, by this she meant a man with a large amount of money.
The sisters do not have their own fortune to inherit however, because
of the entailment that is upon their father?s money and their home.
Jane Austen uses entailment as a major plot device in Pride and
Prejudice. As we discover in the novel, the house at Longbourn is an
estate and because of an earlier generation in Mr Bennet?s family, the
estate can only be passed on to a male heir. Mr Bennet can do nothing
legally to change the situation. The entailment states that the Bennet
family can only...

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