• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How does Elizabeth Bennet contradict the typical image of an 18th century woman?

Extracts from this document...


Q. How does Elizabeth Bennet contradict the typical image of an 18th century woman? The 18th century women of Jane Austen's pages and of her times lived a gentle, sheltered and delicate life. The rules of conduct especially in relation to women were defined and strict. All women were expected to be courteous, decent, fragile, polite, refined, modest and respectable, have "good breeding", impeccable manners and perfect social etiquette. Women were limited to very few activities- mainly drawing, singing and dancing. They had to be accomplished in every sense of the word. An accomplished "woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing and the modern languages to deserve the word: and besides all this she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be half deserved." Such were the requirements that society asked of every woman if she wanted to hold a place of her own in the marriage rat race. Elizabeth Bennet, the twenty-year-old heroine of the novel 'Pride and Prejudice' and the second oldest of the Bennet sisters, has all these qualities in her. However she is superior to all the other women that are presented to us in the novel. She is 'accomplished' and beautiful but unlike other women, she does not show-off at every opportunity. ...read more.


Therefore when Darcy proposes to her she is thunderstruck and dismisses him to be "the last man in the world I could be prevailed upon to marry". I think Elizabeth's rejection of Darcy's proposal a very brave thing to do because it would have been considered sacrilege, keeping in mind the importance given to money in the 18th century. She impresses both Darcy and the readers with her wit and liveliness. Darcy, while maintaining that Elizabeth's manners are "not those of the fashionable world", is nevertheless attracted to her spirit and an independence of mind. However by the end of the novel Elizabeth accepts that not all "first impressions" can be taken at face value. We can see the themes of "Appearance versus Reality" and "Self-realization" being brought out. Elizabeth's independence of spirit is show by her decision to walk to Netherfield in order to visit her sister. It is looked upon as a monstrous thing that Elizabeth Bennet should walk three miles on a country road, and Miss Bingley criticizes her exclaiming "to walk three miles, or whatever it is, above her ankles in dirt, and alone, quite alone! It seems to me to show an abominable sort of conceited independence, a most country-town indifference to decorum. She looked almost wild!" This sneering remark of Caroline Bingley shows us the typical 18th century woman mentality. Elizabeth's behaviour is considered to be "unorthodox" and very "unladylike" since she walked, unescorted all the way from Meryton to Netherfield just to see her sick sister. ...read more.


She is by no means perfect but is by far the closest to perfection among all the other women in the novel. Elizabeth is vivacious, teasing, sensitive, perceptive and filled with sparkling beauty and wit. Her dialogues are full of intelligence and precisely crafted often to convey subtle meanings. Elizabeth is Jane Austen's best, most loved and certainly most popular creation. "I must confess I think her as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print", wrote Austen of Elizabeth; few readers have ever disagreed. Elizabeth Bennet contradicts the image of the typical 18th century woman who is born and brought up only with marriage in mind. She has a mind of her own and quite a sharp one at that. She captures and captivates not only Darcy but the readers as well. She has all the qualities in her that were desired in a 'perfect' wife. But besides these she has a certain 'something' in her that no other woman has. She is a woman far beyond her time and would not seem out of place in today's world, two centuries later. I think Jane Austen has really created a marvelous masterpiece, which will always survive the changing demands of literature. Name: Ramya Chandra Shekhar Class: Sr. 4 'D' Title of Assignment: "How does Elizabeth contradict the typical image of an 18th century woman?" Purpose: To show how Elizabeth contradicts the typical image of an 18th Century woman. Sources: Pride & Prejudice, 1st Draft, Classroom discussions, reference books Date of submission: 19th March 2003 Time taken: 6 to 8 weeks ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Jane Austen section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Jane Austen essays

  1. Pride and Prejudice - Discuss in Relation to the Novel, the Importance of Marriage ...

    Of course, families of greater consequence would not suffer so badly, as they would be able to get their daughters out of situations like this with their money (by paying the man to marry, for example).

  2. From a reading of Jane Austen's short stories what do we learn about women's ...

    Tragically, there was then no cure and Jane Austen died in her sister's arms in the early hours of 18 July 1817. She was 41 years old. She is buried in Winchester Cathedral. Jane Austen writes in her short stories a tremendous amount of information about women's lives in the late eighteenth century.

  1. Explore in detail how Elizabeths views and actions are not of a Typical Regency ...

    first meeting; he has no obvious problems then he shall be a good husband. This also prevents you from finding any faults; therefore it changes your opinion of the person. Charlotte's views are of women in the late 18th century as they were in a vast hurry to get married meaning they would not spend time studying a man's personality.

  2. How does Jane Austen manipulate the reader's understanding of the relationship between Elizabeth and ...

    so the three volume structure helps to define the plot and shape relationships. The first part of the novel introduces the characters and persuades you to form an almost instant opinion of both Darcy and Elizabeth. In part two Darcy falls in love and Elizabeth's begins to love him but does not acknowledge it.

  1. Happy for all her maternal feelings was the day on which Mrs Bennet got ...

    Though he has some favourable characteristics, at the beginning of the novel, Mr Darcy is seen as a proud and rude man. "He looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till catching her eye, he withdrew his own and coldly said: "She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me;

  2. How are love and romance portrayed differently in the 18th and 20th centuries?

    A girl will be looked down upon, if she lacks both decency and virtue, as Mary says, "loss of virtue in a female is irretrievable, one false step involves her in endless ruin, her reputation is no less brittle than it is beautiful, and she cannot be too much guarded in her behaviour towards the undeserving of the other sex".

  1. "I must confess that I think her as delightful a creature as ever appeared ...

    He does not however want to see just how beautiful Elizabeth is because it is mortifying for him to be attracted to her as she is of a lower social class than him, and he has also told his friends that he does not like Elizabeth.

  2. Significance of social, historical and cultural implications of 19th century

    Miss Bingley laughs at the fact that Mr Darcy could hold a place in his heart for the likes of Elizabeth Bennet, who's family are much lower down the social charter, particularly the brash antics of Mrs Bennet. When the eldest, Jane Bennet, is taken ill on the way to

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work