Pride And Prejudice

by dianliu
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Pride And Prejudice

By: Taylor, Julianna and Dian




In the early 1800s, marriage was extremely important to individuals and society. Middle and upper-class women had few avenues open to them for a secure future. Marriage gave women assurance of the type of life they would lead, and hence wealth rather than love was more often sought for in marriage. For example, Charlotte's marriage to Mr Collins, was a marriage out of economic compulsions. Very rarely would a marriage of actual true love take place, such as Jane and Elizabeth's marriage.Furthermore, it was outrageous for a woman to lose their virginity before marriage, and ruined not only their own reputation but also their family's. This is seen when Lydia ran away with Mr Wickham, and almost ruined her credibility if it was not for Mr Darcy, who persuaded Mr Wickham to marry her and thus saved the family's reputation. However, if a man were to do the same, their credibility or reputation would not be harmed.


Women were often judged against their beauty. Men in seek of a wife would often choose upon beauty, intelligence, and sensitivity, and women without these were less likely to marry a fortunate husband. However, as men would often carry the wealth, their appearance and manner did not matter as much as the amount they earned. This is seen in Charlotte's marriage when she accepts Mr Collins proposal even though she thinks him foolish and not the most handsome.

“Indeed you must go, for it will be impossible for US to visit him, if YOU do not.”

Pride and Prejudice is set among the rural middle and upper classes who are landowners. In the 1800, those in these classes did not work, but lived entirely on their income from rents and inheritances. There are petty distinctions between these classes, and one was often judged by the amount of wealth possessed by the members. For example, Miss Bengali and her sister look down on the Bennets because they are not as wealthy.Jane Austen's novel shows her perception and judgements on the the people she lived with and the challenges presented by the society she lived in. The novel shows and criticises the situation and status of women in the eighteenth century. Although it is a very serious subject, Austen appears to deal with it in a very ironical tone in order to displays her opinions.

Unlike in the modern day world, back in the nineteenth century, women were unable to inherit their family’s wealth and property. Primogeniture is the right by law to have the estate go to the firstborn male of the family, be that the first son, or the closest relation who is male. In Elizabeth's case, she is able to be dependent on her father while he is living. However, due to primogeniture, as there are no sons in the Bennet family, all the inheritance is passed to the next in line male, leaving the women of the Bennet family in a desperate situation if Mr Bennet was to pass away. The women would be forced to rely upon the charity of their relatives, such as Mr. and Mrs. Phillips, Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, and even Mr. Collins, and such a position was extremely humiliating.




In Jane Austen's day, life was much more prejudiced against women who were disadvantaged not only in inheritance but education as well. Education for women was not a means of expanding their knowledge, but for the appearance of becoming "accomplished" people, and thus were prevented from a higher education. To further their education women, like Elizabeth, would take up leisure activities such as reading. A woman's formal education was limited because her job opportunities were limited. It was not in the social norm for a woman to enter a profession such as medicine or the law, and chances to obtain such a high education were not easily obtained.



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