Jane Austen & Feminism

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Jane Austen is a well-known female writer in England, her portrait was printed at ten pounds. Not only her novels have broad appeal and are still as powerful today as when they were first published, but also the most representative feminist.

In Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries, men were the principal and center of family and society, while women’s status was very low. The center of their lives was the family, and their daily activities were doing housework. Since the 18th century, British society has published a large number of ‘ethics manuals’ specifically for young women. These handbooks ‘remind all women that they should behave like angels’ and elaborate on the ‘virtues’ that girls should possess, such as ‘steady, elegant, innocent, weak, polite, quiet, chaste, kind, Sven ‘and so on. Therefore, it is difficult for women to gain a foothold in society. For young women, especially young women with little property, marriage is their only way out. Those intellectual women who are interested in literary creation will be accused of being apostasy and being blamed by society. British literary critic David Monaghan pointed out sharply in ‘Jane Austin’s Status of Women’: ‘British women are no less respected than in the 18th century.’ In the 18th century, intellectual women in Europe were once regarded as inferior in intelligence, politically regarded as dangerous elements, morally regarded as weak and incompetent, and ridiculed and ridiculed everywhere.

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This shows that Austin’s background is not conducive to women’s creation. She can persist in writing in this unfavorable environment and insist on her own style, which is itself a resistance act with feminist ideas.

Austen’s novel is an unconventional portrait of the everyday life and idyllic landscape of the English rural middle class, which had not yet been hit by the capitalist industrial revolution. Her works often satirized people’s stupidity, selfishness, snobbery and blind confidence, and other despicable weaknesses, through comic scenes. Austen’s novels appeared in the early 19th century, swept away the popular trend of false romanticism, inherited and developed the outstanding realism tradition of the 18th century, and prepared for the climax of the realism novels in the 19th century. Although the scope and depth of her works are limited, her works such as ‘two-inch tooth carving’, which peers into the whole social form and human experience from a small window, plays a good role in changing the vulgar atmosphere in the creation of novels at that time, and has a significance in the development history of English novels, and is praised as a writer who can be regarded as ‘equal to Shakespeare’.

Pride and Prejudice is a masterpiece of Jane Austen, a work full of feminist consciousness. The novel is based on the feelings of Elizabeth and Darcy, describes four marriages, and exposes money in marriage and interpersonal relationships. The decisive role played a profound and comprehensive overview of the female consciousness of the society at the time.

Elizabeth is also an independent, confident, and courageous girl who pursues true love. She violates her mother’s will, is not tempted by money and status, and flatly rejects the legal heir of his father’s property and estate, Colin

Stein’s proposal, because there is no emotional basis between them. For Collins, choosing a wife is like a steady business. But Elizabeth’s ideal marriage is not. Buying and selling is a marriage based on mutual love and respect.

Elizabeth’s change in Darcy’s attitude reflects her pursuit of dignity, independent personality, and gender equality. She refused Darcy’s proposal, which was incredible in the social environment at that time, because

The money, identity, status, and appearance of Darcy made him the marriage object that women at the time wanted. Darcy is a famous man with a burly figure, a clear eyebrow, and a graceful manner. He has an annual income of 10,000 pounds and also owns the Pembury Estate. Elizabeth was born in a small landlord’s family. Her father’s property was very limited, and because he had no son, these properties would be inherited by a distant relative after the death of his father. In the eyes of everyone, Darcy disregarded the disparity between Mendi and wealth, and proposed to Elizabeth is very condescending. Unexpectedly, Darcy’s proposal was rejected by Elizabeth. Elizabeth refused Darcy’s proposal not only because of misunderstanding and prejudice, but also because of her arrogance. Elizabeth thought that he did not respect her feelings and damaged her dignity. Elizabeth even declared to Darcy ‘Even if the men in the world are dead, I don’t want to marry you.’ [4] In fact, Darcy’s arrogance was a reflection of the difference in the status of men and women in society at the time, and this arrogance made him and Elizabeth There can be no equality, no common thoughts and feelings, and no happy marriage. Later, Elizabeth witnessed Darcy’s life in person, which gradually changed her view of him, eliminated misunderstandings and prejudices against him, and finally concluded a happy marriage with him.

It can be seen that Elizabeth never regards marrying a rich husband as the purpose of life and the pursuit of life, let alone marriage as a ‘safe box’ to ensure that he does not starve. She is after happiness. A happy marriage must be based on equality and mutual respect between men and women. This fully reflects women’s desire for love, happy marriage, and the desire for freedom, equality, and independent personality.

In short, Pride and Prejudice shows us a traditional and anti-traditional Aussie. She confronted and transcended the social consciousness of that era with literature. Obviously, the feminine consciousness in the book cannot be compared with the radical viewpoint of contemporary feminism, but we can see the full manifestation of Austin’s feminine consciousness and the self-confidence and pride possessed by women. It also tells people the truth that a strong affection is the cornerstone of marriage, and this concept of marriage still has its practical significance in the 21st century today. Austin reveals the universal and profound moral meaning from everyday ordinary events, and for the first time comprehensively explores the situation and status of women in English literature.


The Meaning of Jane Austen from the New Yorker.

About the Author

Lydia Grfrustrine is an English actress, a feminist. Love reading. She appeared in the film of Jane Austen’s novel pride and prejudice.


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