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The
novel Pride and Prejudice had been transcribed during a historical time period
in which women’s roles and abilities had been demarcated for them. Men had
expected a women to conduct themselves in an unambiguous fashion, and any eccentricities
from these social norms had been reproached often ruthlessly. Although often
considered to be a novel centered around the theme of romance; Jane Austen also
manufactures strong female characters that set out to challenge and demystify
these stringent social expectations that they have been assigned. The
demolishing of gender standards and an uprising of a feminist movement are able
to be observed through the analyzation of Austen’s main character Elizabeth
Bennet as she fights society’s expectations of her and other women by
professing her love for reading along with her refusal to provide her hand in
marriage as she was not in love.

            Throughout
history as well as in Pride and Prejudice novels have played a vital role in
symbolizing society’s social constructs and expectations placed upon women. During
this time period women had been expected to be agreeable and submissive
allowing them to easily have their thoughts and ideals to be manipulated to fit
that of a man’s. Literature in the story tend to serve as a way for a women to
express their yearning for her own education and to break the link to the
traditional belief that it was a women’s responsibility and destiny to marry a
wealthy man and to accept the job of taking care of him. This ideal can be
revealed when Austen writes “… She gave a great yawn and said, ‘How pleasant it
is to spend an evening in this way! I declare after all there is no enjoyment
like reading! How much sooner one tires of anything than a book! When I have a
house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”
(Austen, 67). Elizabeth yearned for her own private library due to the fact
that they were possessions that attracted a sense of respect and admiration
from observers and guests and awarded the owner with a sense of pride. Personal
libraries had not prominently been for a sense of literacy rather as a way to
show ones successful financial status and independence. (Khait) The act of
reading along with the possession of a large quantity of novels often had been
associated with knowledge and having a significant placement in society
separating yourself from those who do not find value in reading.

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 Historically during the 1800’s
the act of matrimony had been perceived as a way for women to achieve financial
security rather than as a method to express ones love for another. The erroneous
attitude towards marriage is prominent throughout Pride and Prejudice evidently
when Austen states “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man
in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife”. (Austen, 2)
Consequently this statement leads to the common ideology that a women who
possesses no fortune of her own should find and marry a man who does, helping her
to move up the social ladder. (MSS Research) Furthermore,
the idea of matrimony being concerned with the contents of one’s wallet rather
than the desires of one’s heart leads readers to see how women had been
expected to suppress their hearts yearnings and to only see marriage as a business
transaction as to secure a life absentee of financial struggles or concerns. Elizabeth’s
yearning to detach herself from societies expectations of her can be seen
through her beliefs regarding the purpose of a marriage compared to that of
Charlottes. Through Charlotte’s character Austen shows the traditional
practical approach of marrying for financial stability formatting the act as
being simply a business attraction rather than a fulfilling emotional
relationship. (Hall) Through Elizabeth’s refusal to marry Mr. Collins despite
having a considerable wealth and to be the one to receive the Bennett estate in
Mr. Bennett’s death further exemplifies Elizabeth’s feminist movement.

            Throughout history society has taken
it upon themselves to formulate social standards and expectations they have for
women. Women even in today’s society have been expected to act in a certain
mannerism, typically one leaving them submissive and aggregable. The debunking
of these standards can be observed through Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
Austen’s main character Elizabeth Bennet is one with a strong feminist approach
and successfully attempts to destroy the mannerisms expected of her and other
women through her expressing a love for reading as well as taking an emotional
stance towards matrimony rather than the traditional business transaction
methodology.  

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