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Pride and Prejudice

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Introduction

Explore in detail how Austen creates an untypical regency woman through the views and actions of the character Elizabeth Bennett. Pride and Prejudice was first published on the 28th of January 1813, it is one of the most famous of Jane Austen's novels and is one of the first romantic comedies in the history of the history of the novel. The manuscript was first written between 1796 and 1797, it was initially called 'First Impressions' but it was never published under that title. The novel opens with the line, "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife". In the late 18th century England, women were downgraded to the minor roles in society in relation to property and social responsibilities. For example, women were not allowed to visit new arrivals to the town (such as Mr. Bingley) until the male, head of their household, had done so first. Women were under enormous pressure to marry for the principle of securing their financial futures and making valuable connections between their families. Consequently, marriage, although it is romanticised, was in many ways a financial contract and social agreement, rather than a subject of love. Although Jane Austen did not condone loveless marriages, as she stayed single all her life, she did approve of matches having equal opportunity in a range of aspects such as wealth, social status, love and character. In Pride and Prejudice, wealth, social status, integrity and physical attractiveness are portrayed as factors that will affect a woman's likelihood for a good quality marriage. ...read more.

Middle

Mr Collins is a good example of a higher class man and in Chapter 19 he goes to visit Elizabeth and she doesn't want to stay in the same room as him on her own because she doesn't like him but Mr Collins thinks it is because she doesn't believe she has high enough status to be in a room on her own with him. Elizabeth says in the presence of Mr Collins that 'he can have nothing to say to me that anybody need not hear', Mr Collins interprets this to mean that he is too higher status to be able to say anything to her in private, when really she just doesn't want to talk to him. Mr Collins likes to think of himself as a very important person in society and when he says 'your modesty' he is trying to make Elizabeth think that he is a great man, as he is about to propose. Elizabeth rejects this proposal immediately, although Mr Collins insists upon it. Mr Collins suspects that this is Elizabeth's way of saying that she does want to marry him but she is merely trying to make him more interested in marrying her by rejecting him. This rejection is very untypical of a woman of her time, any typical woman would have accepted straight away as Mr Collins is a high-class, respectable man. The main theme of Pride and Prejudice is marriage; lots of people get married within the duration of the book. Because of the Bennett's low status, they aren't as likely to get married to rich, successful men. ...read more.

Conclusion

Although her character was created in 1813, I think that Elizabeth Bennett is very much a modern woman, she is not a typical regency woman in any way, she has her own opinion and she has no fear to voice it. A typical regency woman would never say a thing if she disagreed with a man, it just wasn't acceptable. However, Elizabeth doesn't feel the same sense of where her place in society is as much as where the other women do. A perfect example of this would be in chapter 34 when Mr Darcy proposes to Elizabeth, the typical thing to do would have been to accept the proposal or at least reject it politely but Elizabeth continues to argue her case against rejecting the proposal, she says, 'I have never desired your good opinion ad you have certainly bestowed it most unwillingly.' She talks to him like no other woman would, she talks to him as if she is of the same or of higher status than he is which is of course not true in that day of age. This makes her character truly an untypical regency woman. I have learnt a lot from Elizabeth Bennett, she should have been the same as everyone else and followed the 'rules' of how she should have acted but she didn't, she spoke her mind and didn't care about how anyone else would react or what they would think of her. I like her character for this because I believe nobody should pretend to be someone they aren't just because it's the 'right thing to do' so I think she is a very good character to have been created for this point. ?? ?? ?? ?? Abi Bann. 10Johnson. 1 ...read more.

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