Feminism in Elizabeth Bennet Character and Suppression of Women in the Society

Pride and Prejudice is a story about the Bennet family, especially Elizabeth. The tale begins at Longbourn, the Bennet family’s estate, with five children: Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Kitty, and Lydia. Mr. Bingley is a wealthy single man who is rumored to be a possible suitor for one of the ladies. When Mr. Bingley sees the ladies, he falls in love with Jane. Mr. Darcy, Bingley’s companion, lacks Elizabeth. Darcy is considered to be proud by the world because he declines to dance. Jane and Bingley get more involved in each other as their relationships progress. Mr. Darcy, on the other hand, starts admiring Elizabeth, drawn to her attractive eyes and wittiness. She nonetheless stays condescending towards him. Elizabeth keeps on impressing Darcy while she nurses her sister Jane after she fell in. Although they seem to have some attraction towards one another, Elizabeth continues to snub him as she perceives him as proud and arrogant. Marriage is very important in this community; Elizabeth’s own pride and prejudice kept her from obtaining the security of marriage until she finally allowed love for Mr. Darcy to overcome those feelings. The paper shall discuss this and her protagonist character and the suppression of women in the society.

Elizabeth Bennet is the second daughter of Bennet family and is smart and witty. She is the protagonist of the novel and a renowned character in English literature. Her admirable attributes are many – she is lovely, intelligent and communicates brilliantly like everyone else. Her sincerity, virtue, and humor allow her to evade the stigma and bad conduct that encompass her class bound and unkind community. Elizabeth is her father’s favorite daughter and is also liked a lot by other people because of her character (Kruger et al. 117). Her self-assurance arises from her enthusiastic critical mind and can be seen through her fast humorous dialogue.

Elizabeth’s sense of the different between the most intelligent and foolish is excellent. Despite her fault of misjudging Wickham and Darcy, and the blamable mistake of sticking to that judgment until she realizes her mistake, she is usually correct about persons. For instance, she discerns the improper conduct of the majority of her family, and she recognizes that Mr. Collin is foolish and Lady Catherine is an oppressor. Nonetheless, this capability to analyze individuals brings her problems at times. Elizabeth often follows first impressions of Darcy and Wickham to exact and incorrect conclusions on their personalities

Her quick tongue and inclination to make hurried opinions regularly lead her off track. Pride and Prejudice is basically the tale of how she and her lover, Darcy rise above every impediments—including their own faults to be together. She ought to cope with a distraught mother, cold father, two mannerless sisters and many snobby antagonizing women; she should also rise above her wrong notions of Darcy, which causes her to refuse his marriage offers (Rockas 15). Her charisma is enough to keep his eye, while she goes through family and societal struggles. It is only when she come to realize how noble Darcy is when she dispels her initial wrong impressions over him.

Love and marriage are what is prominent in the novel. The most prominent story is that of the Elizabeth and Darcy. Elizabeth’s pride made him misapprehend Darcy whereas Darcy’s chauvinism was over Elizabeth’s social standings also blinds him. Women have no rights and are only subject to men. Their main preoccupation was to get married. Reputation can also be seen evidently in the novel as many characters value their reputation (Fischer-Starcke 505). Woman’s reputation is very important. She is expected to conduct herself in a certain manner. Going outside the societal norms could attract excommunication. As Elizabeth goes to Netherfield and comes with muddy skirts, Miss Bingley with her companions are taken aback. Mrs. Bennet‘s outrageous behaviors often get her in trouble with refined Darcy and Bingley. When Lydia runs away with Wickham and stays with him, her reputation is diminished (Kruger et al. 120). By she has placed herself away from societal expectations and her dishonor affects the whole Bennet family. The fact that Lydia’s wrong decision might make other sisters unmarriageable, it is not fair, but that is the way society is.

Jane Austen’s depiction of women has been highly criticized with many believing that the dismal treatment of women is uncalled for. Why should marriage define a woman? The author writes that it is acknowledged that a man would want to have a wife. This phrase depicts that a man has a freedom to marry whoever they fancy whereas women can have only the man they can manage to get. This implies that there are many women in the society and few men (Rockas 19). Additionally, the author writes about how men are reliant on men. The story shows that women had no right to inherit property, it was only meant for men. Mr. Bennet had only daughters; therefore his estate had to be given to Mr. Collins instead of his daughters. Mrs. Bennet statement on this, “Oh! My dear,” crie[s] his wife, “I cannot bear to hear that mentioned. Pray, do not talk of that odious man. I do think it is the hardest thing in the world, that your estate should be entailed away from your own children…” (Austen 45). This entailment does permit even the eldest child Jane to enjoy their father’s fortune simply because she is a woman and has no standing in the society.

The whole novel also talks about the pressures girls are subjected to get married ad look for a good spouse to obtain a better life. Charlotte Lucas who agreed to Mr. Collins’s proposal simply because of yearning to establish herself did not care that establishment was obtained. It simply implies that Charlotte Lucas married solely for future in the prominently male society (Fullerton 59). This shows that Charlotte only married to secure her future and not for love. Elizabeth is disappointed with Charlotte when she hears her sole reasons for marrying. Man also treats as inferior to them, as Austen depicts.

When Darcy initially is told to dance with Elizabeth, he stated that she was tolerable however not handsome enough to tempt him. Darcy response shows their mentality of their superiority over women (Fischer-Starcke 509). They think that women ought to be as tempting and handsome as they want, not considering that they themselves may not have good looks or women get interested in them. Darcy stating that implying that women had no much says when it comes to dating (Neckles 37). The author portrays women as subject to men’s decisions when it comes to marriage. Men also prejudice against women in a manner in which they ought to dress or conduct themselves so that they can be accepted by the superior class-men.

Miss Bingley stated that a woman ought to have a good understanding of music, drawing, dancing, dialects, expressions, her talking tones, all these ought to be in certain ways which are acceptable in the class (Neckles 39). This implies that women ought to be experts in these areas not for their own gratification but rather to please a man. Through this idea, the author represents the ideal ladies and Miss Bingley together to prove that an ideal lady is a traditionally biased concept. Austen additionally tries to persuade the readers to hate this aspect of society, that it is objectification to have a boundary around one’s will and like the character that has a strong feminist viewpoint- Elizabeth.

What has been applauded about the author’s writing is the portrayal of the female character Elizabeth. Elizabeth is the most clever and free-willed character in the narrative. Elizabeth’s admirable attribute is rebuffing the concept of decorum. The author here is portraying that the best attribute a woman can possess is free will that is modern (Neckles 38). When Miss Bingley was explaining who a perfect lady is, and Darcy attempting to support the suggestion, Elizabeth replies with a self-assured but satiric tone, “ I never saw such a woman. I never saw such capacity, and taste and application, and elegance, as you describe united” (40). Elizabeth is very independent in her deliberations that she is often inclined to do whatever pleases her without abiding by the societal standards (Fischer-Starcke 497). She is often criticized by the other characters has they are used to doing things according to the societal expectations, but Elizabeth here is defiant.

This depiction of Elizabeth is what many critics a woman ought to be in society.

There is also the issue of gender parformativity where females do things not because it is natural but rather because they have been conditioned to do so. That is what the society expects of them. Gender parformativity can be observed through the character of Elizabeth as she challenges this idea. She goes beyond the norms as she like reading in society here women are not educated and is interested in sculpture at Darcy residence (Neckles 40). She can offer financial aid to Lydia when she had the problem of her unmatched marital union with Wickman which had been done only for economic reasons. In that period, responsibilities were only meant for men. Austen depicts a different symbol of woman as sensible people through Elizabeth, who takes on gender parformativity.

In a society that suppresses women, the women have to step up their game to fight these stereotypes. A lot of literal works portray women as men pleasers, maids, stupid housewives, domestic workers; women ought to carve their own identity in the biased society. They needed to define who they are and express their duties, values, and status in society. To do this, as critic states, they ought to put up many resources to affirm, elucidate and eventually executive their convictions and values (Dekel 20). Elizabeth Bennet in the novel does clarify and implement her own convictions and ideals. The protagonist, in the last altercation with Lady Catherine de Bourgh, affirms that her decision to marry Darcy is not because of societal restrictions but her own will. : “I am only resolved to act in that manner, which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness, without reference to you, or to any person so wholly unconnected to me” (Austen 260).

In this regard, Elizabeth expresses her duty and position in the society even though a homemaker, she is the housewife who married for love and her ideals instead of the societal asserted principles of affluence and huge standing in society.

When Darcy shows a liking for Elizabeth, she ignores him due to his presumed arrogance. If it were the other woman, they would have seen it as a privilege and agreed to Darcy’s advances in an instant. Elizabeth, however, takes her time, she would rather be unmarried than marry a snobby man due to marriage pressures from the society (Dekel 18). It was much later after she had fully realized her false impression of Darcy, did she accept his marriage proposal. Her prejudice over Darcy kept them apart, however after overcoming it is when they are able to fully fall in love and enjoy their marriage.

Many literal works just like pride and prejudice lobbies for women’s equality in all aspects of life. Elizabeth Bennet also fights for equality to be in the same class with her husband. In the altercation with Lady Catherine de Bourgh, she states,

“In marrying your nephew, I should not consider myself as quitting that sphere [in which I have been brought up]. He is a gentleman; I am a gentleman’s daughter; so far we are equal” (Austen 258).

Elizabeth asserts equality with her husband as she fights Darcy’s controlling aunt.

To have equivalent rights as well as privileges with a gentleman of social standing as Darcy is to exemplify the basis of feminism that is the advocacy of women’s rights and equality. Elizabeth Bennet is regarded as an epitome of woman feminist.

Works Cited

Austen, Jane. Pride and prejudice. Lulu. com, 1996.

Dekel, Mikhal.: “Austen and autism: reading brain, emotion and gender differences in Pride and Prejudice.” Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies (10:3) 2014. (2014)

Fischer-Starcke, Bettina. “Keywords and frequent phrases of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: A corpus-stylistic analysis.” International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 14.4 (2009): 492-523.

Fullerton, Susannah. Celebrating Pride and Prejudice: 200 Years of Jane Austen’s Masterpiece. Voyageur Press (MN), 2013. 59

Kruger, Daniel J., et al. “Pride and Prejudice or Family and Flirtation?: Jane Austen’s Depiction of Women’s Mating Strategies.” Philosophy and Literature 38.1 (2014): A114-A128.

Neckles, Christina. “Spatial Anxiety: Adapting the Social Space of” Pride and Prejudice”.” Literature/Film Quarterly 40.1 (2012): 30-45.

Rockas, Leo. “Darcy’s Intentions: Solving a Narrative Puzzle in Pride and Prejudice.” Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal 34 (2012): 201.

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