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The social situation of women in Jane Austens Pride and prejudice
2002 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor)Student thesis
Abstract [en]

Late 18th century author Jane Austen is known for her tales of money, manners and marriage, ironic and humorous portrayals of women heroines of everyday life, their families and the society in which they live. Recurring themes in her novels are women's role in society and the idea of romantic love versus practical sense. These themes are also central in Pride and Prejudice, where the main issue is whether or not it is morally right to marry for anything other than love and if marrying for love alone is really a sensible thing to do. My essay examines how the laws of the time, both written (actual laws) and unwritten (customs and traditions), reflect the situation of women in this novel. Pride and Prejudice is a comic novel; the marvellous ironic opening sentence sets the tone, outlines the plot and states the underlying theme of social criticism: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” By taking a closer look at how women in the novel are described in reference to marriage and education and also by society’s and family norms and traditions one can see that at this time in history women were seen as living in a different sphere from men. Not only did they not have the same rights as men, but they were also looked upon as delicate and weak creatures in need of strong guidance throughout their lives. They were forced to rely upon their parents and if they were married upon their husbands for both financial support and approval of their decisions. If not by actual law they still were the property of men and the only thing that could give them the power to live as they liked was money and a high position in society. And not even then was womanhood completely free; every advantage and fragment of independence had its limitations within the boundaries of society. In her novel Jane Austen renders a social situation very much reflecting the actual situation of middle and upper class women in late 18th and early 19th century England. In the words of David Hughes, “Jane Austen, softer of voice than any of her contemporaries, almost snug in her discreet denunciations of people’s habits and foibles and hypocrisies, perfectly captured her own time”(The Seven Ages of England 159).

Abstract [en]

Late 18th century author Jane Austen is known for her tales of money, manners and marriage, ironic and humorous portrayals of women heroines of everyday life, their families and the society in which they live. Recurring themes in her novels are women's role in society and the idea of romantic love versus practical sense. These themes are also central in Pride and Prejudice, where the main issue is whether or not it is morally right to marry for anything other than love and if marrying for love alone is really a sensible thing to do. My essay examines how the laws of the time, both written (actual laws) and unwritten (customs and traditions), reflect the situation of women in this novel. Pride and Prejudice is a comic novel; the marvellous ironic opening sentence sets the tone, outlines the plot and states the underlying theme of social criticism: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” By taking a closer look at how women in the novel are described in reference to marriage and education and also by society’s and family norms and traditions one can see that at this time in history women were seen as living in a different sphere from men. Not only did they not have the same rights as men, but they were also looked upon as delicate and weak creatures in need of strong guidance throughout their lives. They were forced to rely upon their parents and if they were married upon their husbands for both financial support and approval of their decisions. If not by actual law they still were the property of men and the only thing that could give them the power to live as they liked was money and a high position in society. And not even then was womanhood completely free; every advantage and fragment of independence had its limitations within the boundaries of society._x000B_In her novel Jane Austen renders a social situation very much reflecting the actual situation of middle and upper class women in late 18th and early 19th century England. In the words of David Hughes, “Jane Austen, softer of voice than any of her contemporaries, almost snug in her discreet denunciations of people’s habits and foibles and hypocrisies, perfectly captured her own time”(The Seven Ages of England 159).

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2002. , 15 p.
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-53713Local ID: ENG C-14OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-53713DiVA: diva2:1102273
Subject / course
English
Available from: 2017-05-29 Created: 2017-05-29

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