Pride And Prejudice And Feminism
Pride and Prejudice can be identified as an up-to-date novel because the matters that have spoken in the book get never expired. It is a novel set in Georgian England, about five daughters of Bennett’s family and the change of their lives with the arrival of Mr. Bingley and his friend (Mr. Darcy) to their neighbourhood. This is a book written by Jane Austen when she was nineteen years old, concerning contemporary social norms. The eighteenth century and the early nineteenth century were belonging to patriarchal society. That society was ruled by the male who had social and economic power and it had a mixture of bourgeoisie and aristocracy. With this situation where the man had social and economic power, the women were marginalized and Pride and Prejudice is an appreciable novel written by a young woman in such a time period. Austen also concerns the balance in disdain, the requirement of marriage and idealism, romanticism and individualism through her protagonist’s attempt to separate a place in the conservative marriage institution. She brings out a sense of feminism with her heroine’s struggle to find a place in the marriage institution. “The ‘women’s movement’ of the 1960s was not, of course, the start of feminism. Rather, it was a renewal of an old tradition of thought and action already possessing its classic books which had diagnosed the problem of women’s inequality in society, and (in some cases) proposed solutions.” ( Beginning theory, 121). This quote shows that Austen has taken part in this renewal of feminism which caused women’s movement. Feminism is the principle that demonstrates that women are equal to men. Austen brings out feminism in a society where women had no equal power as men in social and economic status. However, Austen’s masterpiece is not only valid for contemporary society but also to the current society all around the world due to feminism brought out in the book. Moreover, Austen demonstrates two types of feminists, making one as the heroine who wins at the end which contributes a solution for the problem of lack of feminists. Elizabeth is used as the protagonist to bring out the feminism in various types like lack of horizontal hostility and equality in the novel.
Austen’s masterpiece can be acquainted as an au courant novel which is valuable not only for her contemporary society but also to the modern world due to feminism underlined in the story. In the current society, one can see a number of feminine characters that one has met in the novel. Everyone agrees to the fact that many women tend to suffer after their marriage like Lydia Bennett. She gets married to a swindler called Mr. Wickham and the novel gives a hint that she will get abused and will be a victim of domestic violence. A huge number of Lydias can be seen in Sri Lanka, in India, in Asian countries, in Europe and around the world. On the other hand, a number of girls seem to be suffering when they are unable to get married around their thirties. That is very similar to the story of Charlotte Lucas. She takes a decision to get married to Mr. Collins in order to stop passing time being single. Even though she does not suffer as Lydia, it is doubtful whether she is happy with her life. In the modern world, one sees a number of communities where new couples can get matched. The majority agrees that it is ridiculous to see some advertisements on papers or websites to search for a bride or a groom. How one can search for a life partner? It can be compared to the marriage of Charlotte Lucas and Mr. Collins because both were searching for someone to get married. Moreover, rarely there are some girls who act like Elizabeth and they seem to have a happy life even after the marriage. Austen seems to be recommending that life being a woman because she was in a society where there was a universal truth as “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” (Pride and prejudice, chap1.) Therefore, one can imagine that if the powerful man in need of a wife, the marginalized woman definitely needed a husband. That’s what brought out in the novel too. However, the current society seems to be pondering beyond Austen because nowadays a woman ought not to get married. A woman can earn and live alone. Therefore, one can declare that the world is one step forward from the Georgian society.
Jane Austen shows two major types of feminists in the novel Pride and Prejudice and one of the becomes the heroine continuing to be the feminist while the other one gives up being a feminist. In fact, in the beginning, Charlotte Lucas’s role is highlighted as a feminist while the character of Elizabeth is merely a tomboyish character who is a merely explicit woman with abundant opinions. Later, the tendency of feminism seems to be changing Charlotte gives up being a feminist after the marriage while Elizabeth continues to be a feminist rather than a tomboyish character. A first chapters, Charlotte is highlighted as a feminist instead of Elizabeth because she is able to take firm decisions which are not based on her future husband’s every need but for herself. For example, she once declares “I ask only a comfortable home and considering Mr. Collins character, connections and situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him as far as most people can boast on entering a marriage state.” (Chap 22). In these chapters, Elizabeth is merely a carefree, witty young girl. However, later Elizabeth begins to be the true feminist with her direct statement in front of Lady Catherine. The contrast between these two characters can be seen when one considers their lives after marriage. When Charlotte gets married to Mr. Collins, she tends to change her above-mentioned statement and she takes care of her husband’s every want and need. After the marriage of Elizabeth to Mr. Darcy, she tends to continue the same sporty lifestyle that she had spent before her marriage and Mr. Darcy seems to be respecting her nature. Therefore, it is clear that Austen brings out that true happiness is where the feminism is protected.
The protagonist Elizabeth is used to showing feminism in various types in the novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Lack of horizontal hostility can be remarked as one of the major types of showing feminism using the protagonist of the novel. Horizontal hostility is when members of the oppressed group keep fighting with each other due to their inability to split their antagonism on those who are in power. In this society, the suppressed group was always the women while the suppressor would be the higher class man. In such an oppressed environment women kept on mocking, teasing, criticizing and backstabbing each other. However, this nature cannot be seen in the character of Elizabeth. One can compare the two incidents the way she faces when Miss Bingley illtreat her versus the way she replies when Lady Catherine forces her to refuse the proposal of Mr. Darcy. Elizabeths’s heroine character is also used to bring out the equality of men and women in such an oppressed environment. In front of Lady Catherine, Elizabeth states “He is a gentleman, I am a gentleman’s daughter; so far we are equal.” (chap 56) Here Elizabeth emerges an ultimate feminist for the first time. After thatit also occurs some places where one can see she seeks for equality after the marriage. Especially at the ultimate moment when Georgiana ponders about the character of Elizabeth “Georgiana had the highest opinion in the world of Elizabeth; though at first she often listened with astonishment bordering on alarm at her lively, sportive manner of talking to her brother.” (chap 61). Here also we can see between the husband and wife, Elizabeth tends to keep equality and that is where she is different and strong, being a feminist contrast to the Charlotte. She differs the universal norm that a wife is to fulfill every want and need of a husband.
In conclusion, it is clear that ‘Pride and Prejudice’ written by Jane Austen is about feminism and the writer use the characters of women to empower feminism. She uses two types of characters to show that the women who continue to be feminists can have better lives even after the marriage. According to my response, I think Jane Austen was a conservative writer to write such a book in such a time period but now the current society tend to think beyond that time period because nowadays people think that women can even live without men or husbands because in the current society one can see a woman can earn herself and takes care of herself. Therefore, it is high time to eliminate the old Georgian Anglican thoughts and to turn upside down completely rising voice as feminists.