Feminist Criticism In Pride And Prejudice

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Predominance and the Patriarchy: Feminist Criticism in Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen’s classic novel, although published in a time period where women were very repressed, contains contemporary feminist ideas. Each of Austen’s characters possess various quirks and flaws that show women are more than their stereotypes. Women can be strong and independent, but also kind and romantic. Jane Austen’s portrayal of women creates a commentary on the stereotypical views of women and the unjust patriarchal society that controls them. The patriarchy’s effect on the novel is seen primarily through the act of entailment. Ownership of Mr. Bennet’s estate is exclusive to male heirs, so all five of his daughters and his wife must achieve financial stability …show more content…
Yet, her ending is what further secures the feminist ideologies present throughout the novel. Most of Elizabeth’s actions are seen as erratic, foolish, and selfish by the other characters of the novel, namely, her mother. Elizabeth declines Mr. Collin’s marriage proposal, preferring to secure her own personal happiness rather than securing her and her family’s financial standing. She makes her personal beliefs clear to Lady Catherine De Bourgh later in the novel by saying, “I am only resolved to act in that manner, which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness, without reference to you, or to any person so wholly unconnected to me” (230). Elizabeth believes that her place in society is dictated by herself, and although she marries Darcy, it is for love and her own values rather than for financial reasons or because of societal standards. She does not give in to the pressures of society, and yet, she receives a happy ending. If Pride and Prejudice ended with Elizabeth running away, flaunting her independence, Jane Austen’s message would be lost. The original audience of the novel, mostly upper class women, would view Elizabeth’s actions as foolish and without reward. Through Elizabeth and Darcy’s marriage, Austen argues that a woman can go against societal norms and still …show more content…
Her whole novel is a commentary on the patriarchal society she grew up in, where money and social class determined success, and a woman was no one without a wealthy man by her side. Even though Jane, Elizabeth and Lydia all end up with a man at their side, they make the choice according to their own standards rather than society’s. Lydia marries Wickham because she simply wants to be married, not for his wealth or social status. Jane and Elizabeth marry for love, and uncoincidentally, emerge with the more sought after positions in society. Elizabeth’s ending symbolizes the happiness and freedom that comes with being yourself and not conforming to oppressive standards. Austen shows that success is not determined by the amount of money in your bank account or the size of your estate, but by staying true to who you are and never settling for anything less than you think you

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