Rejection Of Rousseau Pride And Prejudice Gender Analysis

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The door slammed shut with a thundering thud. A familiar dark physique filled the door way into the kitchen. Rushed words poured out of the wife’s mouth, causing her pitch to climb. With a glare that instantly silenced her, the man sat and waited. A flurry of activity began to as his wife scrambled to produce a suitable meal. Once finished, she stood in the corner awaiting his reaction. The silence continued until he finally began to eat. With relief, a small breath escaped the wife’s lips. Another day… The gender dynamic within households differs greatly in terms of time and perception. In Paula Conen’s “Jane Austen’s Rejection of Rousseau: a Novelistic and Feminist Initiation,” she suggests that Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice rejects …show more content…
While Conen argues her opinion that Austen’s new women are independent fairly accurately, using both Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, she fails to bring up other characters that could have strengthened her argument. The time period in which Jane Austen wrote was saturated with the influence of Rousseau’s writings. Paula Conen states, “The sentimental style popularized by Rousseau was the prevailing model for writers throughout the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century,” (Conen 1). Rousseau’s work was booming throughout the era in which Austen lived and as a vivid reader, Austen would have come across his writings. Recurring in both Rousseau’s and Austen’s writing is the idea that character comes before class. While this is where the similarities ended, Rousseau’s beginning thoughts were supported by Austen. Conen recognizes this parallel in Rousseau’s Emile and Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. “All Austen’s novels adopt Rousseau’s basic premise that education should concern itself with matters of character not class…‘the more one distinguishes among classes, the more one blurs the distinctions among characters. The consequences are ill-matched marriages and all the disorders deriving …show more content…
Unfortunately, Conen fails to mention some male characters that would have reinforced her argument by being mocked in Austen’s novel. Mr. Collins, the closest male relative to the Bennets, demonstrates his inability to view women as more than a means to an end. Conen’s idea that women are more than slaves for the men of the time would have been reinforced by this character by Austen’s satire. In Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Collins proposes to Elizabeth Bennet, but instead of accepting her no, he feels her female practice is to reject. “I know it is to be the established custom of your sex to reject a man on the first application,” (Austen 73). His manner suggests he feels women are weak, indecisive beings that only feel how the men around them want them to feel. Mr. Collin’s attitude is one of a very stereotypical male of the time. Image and status is the main objective and women are used to achieve this. Austen’s exaggerated example of a Rousseau fanatic further solidifies her argument against him. For us to understand the differing roles of the traditional thought and more modern outlook both types of characters are needed. Austen provides both, but Conen’s failure to mention this damages her

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