Women in Society: an analysis of Pride and Prejudice

Essay by anakin3 May 2008

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- Women in Society -Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." However, Jan Austen's words ring most true in the confined universe in which she lived, one that she recreates for her characters in Pride and Prejudice. In their society, all are aware of what is truly important - marriage. And any happiness to expect from dealing in this market directly depends on the financial and social advancements made through it. As firm-set as this value was in her time, Jane Austen strongly disagreed with it. In order to convey this opinion, she uses the heroine of Pride and Prejudice, the handsome and quick-witted Elizabeth Bennet as a vehicle of change for her society, a rare character who constantly places love above all else.

Unfortunately, the majority of her society does not think in the same way.

This is immediately recognisable upon meeting Elizabeth's mother, the loud and loquacious Mrs Bennet, who is used by Jane Austen as a caricature of the many dim-witted and gaudy people that she finds so vulgar in her society. With her exaggerated manner of speaking and constant focus on marrying off her five daughters to the 'highest bidder', Mrs Bennet is one of the novels stock characters, making her immediately relatable to readers. Austen allows us to infer her society as being one full of Mrs Bennet's, a woman for whom "the business of her life was to get her daughters married, [while] its solace was visiting and news."The product of such a superficial society is uncovered in Elizabeth's best friend, Charlotte Lucas. Unlike our protagonist, Charlotte believes that "happiness in a marriage is entirely a matter of chance" and should not...