Womens Position in Society in P&P

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                                                                                        Billy Wang

Women’s Position in Society

Feminism is the belief that women should have equal rights as men in political, economical, sexual, intellectual and social circumstances. The feminist theory focuses on gender inequality and tries to understand the nature of inequality between the sexes; moreover, feminism aims at the promotion of women’s rights, interests and concerns. Through the feminist literary theories, one may study the position and representation of women in literature. The feminist literary theory is also to study the feminist point of view in literature.  One may study Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice through the feminist theory by examining the role of gender, identity and the interactions between men and women in the text.

        In Pride and Prejudice, many women were often portrayed as characters who actively seek husbands since the age of maturity. These women were portrayed as typical female characters who seek true love and await for a “charming prince” with a grand fortune. Some of these typical characters include Jane, Lydia, and Ms. Bennet. Jane was portrayed as a typical beautiful, cheerful and naive girl who waited for a husband. She and Ms. Bennet suggested  the idea that women were not able and excepted maintain a life for themselves and that the only way to a successful life is through marriage, which allows a woman to gain a good fortune and become provided for. This is because Ms. Bennet constantly attempted to capture Mr. Bingley for her daughter Jane, thus representing the idea that woman were helpless without a husband.  The first line in the text emphasized this, “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife”. This line emphasized the fact that a woman can only be provided for through marriage because the line not only meant that a young man “must be in a want of a wife” but also the opposite. That is, a single woman whose social options are limited is in want of a husband, or perhaps desperately in want of a husband. Ms. Bennet, a noisy and shallow woman, whose only goal in life was to secure the marriage of all 5 of her daughters, lived by the rule that a women must be married in order to be successful and happy in life. Ms. Bennet believed that the only way her daughters could live happily was through marriage to a young man, especially a wealthy young man like Mr. Bingley and Mr. Collins. In the beginning of Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth could also be categorized as a non-feminist. This was because she was slightly similar to Jane, in the way that they both wanted to find true love. Elizabeth also was very insensible during the begging half of the book, that is, she rejected all the outstanding marriage proposals that would have benefited her and her family. This gave the idea that she did not understand the importance and reality of a marriage, or the unwise choice of rejecting a young wealthy man. Throughout all the non- feminist characters, there were the naive women who waited for true love and there were also the manipulative and flirtatious women whose only purpose in life was to chase after men. These were the women who had no sense of responsibility and devoted their entire life to dances, balls, dresses, jewelries, flirtations and gossips. Their only interests were men, men in uniforms and they constantly pursued men, sacrificing the happiness of those around them. These women were Lydia and Kitty Bennet. Lydia and Kitty gave the manipulative representation of women, constantly scheming and employing trickeries in order to find a husband. Their characters were somewhat similar to that of Mrs. Bennet’s, in their schemes and empty-headed actions and beliefs. The role of Lydia and Kitty in society was simply to flirt and find a husband and this was shown by their numerous trips and visits to the officers. In conclusion, there were two types of non-feminist women in the text, the women who were naive and unrealistic and the women who were immature and foolish. Each of them played a specific role of the female identity and situation in the times of Pride and Prejudice.

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         In Pride and Prejudice, the early and most noticeable feminist was Charlotte, the reason that she was considered a strong feminist was because of her deep understanding of the situation and position of women in society during the times. She understood the importance of marriage, namely the security and fortune a husband could provide for any single woman. An unmarried woman was doomed to the unhappy life of a maid. And the understanding of this concept with the understanding of the position of women in society was what brought Charlotte forward as a feminist. Charlotte’s need for financial security brought ...

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