Use Of Societal Status In Pride And Prejudice By Jane Austen

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To what extent does marital status affect Austen’s writing of “Emma” and “Pride and Prejudice” in the 18th to early 19th century? Austen’s use of marital status is very significant in her books “Emma” and “Pride and Prejudice.” I found marital status worthy of study because it reflects the time periods used in Austen’s work. The two books show different yet accurate female perspectives of marriage at that time. With Austen’s use of Charlotte Lucas we are shown how an intelligent yet not significantly special young woman compromises her views for the sake of security. Where in “Emma” Austen uses Emma Woodhouse’s strong female voice to oppose the idea of marriage based solely on security.
During this time there were many rules and customs as
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The only way divorce was condoned was if the husband was injured and even then it was debated by the parliament. Any debt a woman had became her husband’s responsibility after marriage. All property a woman inherited or was gifted became her husbands. Women were viewed and treated as possessions once married. The social standings of both families were also very important in the consideration of marriage. In “Pride and Prejudice” we are told that you were of “marrying age” at age twenty-five and anyone not married by then was pitied and judged by their community. Society often excluded the females who did not marry by a certain age. Austin’s use of Charlotte Lucas and Emma Woodhouse illustrates the idea that women were expected to marry for social status and security rather than love in the 18th to early 19th century. In the remainder of my essay I will discuss how gender roles, economics, and social norms were influenced by marital …show more content…
Most women at the time, like charlotte, were encouraged to marry regardless of if they were in love or not releasing their freedom for social status and security. Emma Woodhouse made the decision not to marry for social or financial status. She never compromised her views by marrying a man without reason, “A woman is not to marry a man merely because she is asked, or because he is attached to her, and can write a tolerable letter.” (Emma 31). When Mr. Elton proposed to Emma she declined because he was only interested in her money and status like so many had been before. He took no interest in her personal characteristics or her physical appearance. It isn’t until after Emma falls in love with Frank Churchill, an older weak man much like her father, that she realizes her undeniable feelings for George Knightly. Emma didn’t realize how much her status had blinded her, “The real evils indeed of Emma’s situation were the power of having rather too much her own way, and a disposition to think a little too well of herself” (5). Emma had failed to recognize the people around her because she was so blinded by herself. She began to pay closer attention to her surroundings, which made her second guess her opinions of love and marriage. Emma had decided that she didn’t need love when she didn’t fully comprehend love and all it had to offer. Emma’s idea of love was ironically a

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