Pride and Prejudice
Looking at Pride and Prejudice through a feminist lens.
Marriage has yet to be perfected as it is constantly evolving. This very progression has brought about the digression of how we compare to the 18th century world of Pride and Prejudice inhabits. As this infamous novel makes its way back into societies hearts, it stirs discussion of ideology and cultural differences as they contrast with today. A satirical work, Jane Austen managed to craft a story that evidently stands the test of time. Reaching the masses through movies and shows and plays, Pride and Prejudice has become, yet again, an advocate to the young of today as inspiration to shape your own lifestyle, redefine relationships, and stand for, or against, social issues.
Jane Austen first introduces Elizabeth to the reader as an intellectual being whose main purpose is to strive to be the best she can be rather, than grow up in the care of another man. Elizabeth finds herself amidst the powerful chokehold her mother has on the outcome of her adolescence as she fights to stop what has allowed their vain definition of marriage to persist. With wealth being a driving force for marriage, Mr. Collins is quite charmed by Elizabeth, whereas she is repulsed by him, “My situation in life, my connections with the family of de Bourgh, and my relationship to your own, are circumstances highly in my favour; and you should take it into further consideration, that in spite of your manifold attractions, it is by no means certain that another offer of marriage may ever be made you.” After undergoing an incredibly long list of positive and negative benefits to their future betrothal, Elizabeth rejects him as she is not in love with him. A strong and independent young lady, she persevered, she learned, she became. As a symbol of bravery to readers, Elizabeth's ability to turn down an offer of marriage by a seemingly perfect suitor due to the lack of romantic interests they shared was a feat of the 18th century, a feat that would resonate in the 21st century.
Elizabeth, being the main character, was the central focus for most of the rule breaking. Constantly disagreeing with her mother of whom to engage her time in, she buries herself in her studies. This is the cherry on top of the sundae of what it takes to destroy a mans interest. A female brain, as so terribly misconstrued in the 18th century, was regarded as highly undeveloped in comparison to that of a male superior brain. By reading and indulging herself in knowledge, it was seen as damaging because she could get ideas, the very ideas that caused Mr. Darcy to fall in love with her so. Mr. Collins, when first a spectacle of her mind at work, takes back his proposal after seeing her as unfit in aiding in the continuation of his happiness, "Pardon me for interrupting you, madam," cried Mr. Collins; "but if she is really headstrong and foolish, I know not whether she would altogether be a very desirable wife to a man in my situation, who naturally looks for happiness in the marriage state. If therefore she actually persists in rejecting my suit, perhaps it were better not to force her into accepting me, because if liable to such defects of temper, she could not contribute much to my felicity." A woman who is head strong and foolish and smart and persistent and has a temper of speaking her mind was feared in the 18th century , but is now revered and respected as a role model, yet another reason why Pride and Prejudice has begun to captivate audiences of all ages once more.
A smart woman of the 18th century, Elizabeth was considered odd rather than admirable. Not caring about what others had to say, she kept to her books and continued to expand herself in numerous ways, an attribute that captivated Mr. Darcy. The perfect 18th century wife was one of submission and tender care. It was rare a woman had independence or interaction in intellectual conversations or any respect from their significant other, now times have changed due to characters and relationships like Elizabeth and Darcy’s. Purely a means of enjoyment, women were not allowed to possess knowledge worthwhile, only knowledge concerning a way to entertain guests and their husband, "’Oh! certainly,’ cried his faithful assistant, ‘no [woman] can be really esteemed accomplished who does not greatly surpass what is usually met with. A 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 but half-deserved.’" This sort of banter was considered high class as they described a respectable womans necessary features. Elizabeth, not well versed in piano, cares little for such catty behavior, something the infamous pair share, and laughs at the foolish desperation the other girls around her have.
Elizabeth became an out-standing role model for rule breakers of the 18th century, but for many who aided in the fight to revolutionize what marriage was at its core. With many more intelligent voices who are able to share in Elizabeth’s philosophies, she became a renowned figure for what her character did in the novel, Pride and Prejudice. When she spoke, she spoke her mind, and it is through her we have become mindful of what a relationship should truly be. She recreated and redefined a new era of love for what it is and still does today. A reigning role model for many, Elizabeth has inspired and affected all of our lives allowing Jane Austen’s eloquent testimony, Pride and Prejudice, to be a book that not only stands the test of time, but shapes our future.