Pride and Prejudice Reinforcement on Sexist Stereotypes of Women
Published in1813, Pride and Prejudice is a novel authored Jane Austen. The novel is one of Jane’s most famous novels. The novel depicts emotional development and bitter conflict between families. The book also elicits sexist stereotypes of various women featured in the novel. The novel revolves around Mr and Mrs Bennet, and their five daughters. Mr Bennet’s property is entailed, thus implying that one of the daughters would be necessitated to marry into a wealthy family to assists the rest. In its entirety, the primary context of the novel lies in the British Regency, education, marriage and money. The book is centered on the 18th-century scenario in which women got prejudiced and lacked considerable status in the society. The women’s role was limited and their social status was subordinate. With the level set in such a context, it may imply an immediate impression of eroding sexist stereotypes of women, which is not the case. This is because the first part of the novel focuses on the imitations of women with regard to sexist stereotypes. However, evaluating the later occurrences depicts that this was just for introductory since depending on whatever that transpire, the later parts focus on reinforcing women sexist stereotypes. The paper will delve into an in-depth scrutiny of Austen’s Novel to determine if it reinforces sexist stereotypes of women.
Mrs Bennet was dedicated to ensuring that all her daughters were happily married. This dedication is evidenced where Mrs Bennet states that she would wish for nothing more is she just saw one of her “daughters happily settled at Netherfield and all others equally well married” (Austen 6). The assertion confirms the reinforcement of sexist stereotypes of women. The mother is not wishing her daughters to be just married, but be happily married. It affirms that her joy would be realized when her daughters are well settled in their lives (Chin-Yi). As a fact, marriage is an essential phase in every person’s life. Life without a partner may end up not bringing anything useful. Couples can share ideas, help each other, fight away loneliness and reproduce children. Marriage is among the central themes of the novel, due to its apparent importance to individuals, it involves their relatives and the society. Austen also notes that it is universally acknowledged that any man with riches will always be on the lookout for a wife (Austen 2). This stresses the point further to imply that even successful and prominent men in the society need a wife at their side. All these aspects of marriage depicted above, amalgamated with Mrs Bennet’s desire to view all her daughters getting happy marriages. It affirms that the novel strongly reinforces sexist stereotypes of women.
In another situation, the sexist stereotype is depicted in the novel whereby women have the authority and obligation to think as they wish. For instance, Mrs Bennet is rightful to think about happy marriages for her daughters. Another example is that of Elizabeth who had modern views about marriage, and did not hide those feelings but instead shared them with other women. For instance, she believed that the young sisters ought not to be prevented from marrying until the elder sister gets married, claiming that it was a violation of those sisters from having the pleasures of their youth especially if the elder sister fails to marry early (Austen 92). She stands firmly to defend her point even on account that it contradicted Catherine’s conservativism. These instances reinforce sexist stereotypes of women pointing out that they have the right and freedom to express their personal views and air out their preferences.
Pride and Prejudice extensively illuminate the concept of both genders being different in nature. These differences between the female and male genders still exist even today in all fields, and it is hard to eliminate them. For instance, dowry is paid by men in most parts of the world, most of the nurses are female, most engineers are men and air hostess is dominated by females. The novel accepts the existence of such gender differences, but further puts them in a way that reinforces sexist stereotypes of women. For instance, Elizabeth was very persistent in her opinions regarding choosing partners. She states firmly that both genders should have an opinion and a right when choosing their partners, thus reinforcing sexist stereotypes of women. She further displayed her instinct throughout the novel in many occasions thus proving that although both genders are different, women too have a right to give their views and opinions.
Sexist stereotypes of women are also reinforced with regard to involvement in various activities and have personal independence. During the era, the prominent activities were set aside for men as they were considered symbolically and socially more superior. However, the novel follows a change in this male dominance and depicts how the women too could embrace their own independence and get involved in any activity. Women were also prevented from pursuing education as they were thought to have weaker minds (Gilman 3). For example, Mr Bingley’s two sisters painted played the piano and were well educated. These were aspects associated with men, but as women, they had been able to achieve them too. Miss Darcy was well educated too, and she exercised her independence without being controlled by her brother. Another example is Lady Catherine whose freedom exceeded those of other females featured in the novel. She was free to do what she pleased and controlled most of the happenings around her. She even played some roles that were expected to be done by men, such as telling Mr Collins to find a wife, which he later did. It demonstrates that the ideas of women having no power could be overcome.
Pride and prejudice have many themes, of which gender stereotypes are among the key ones. The gender stereotypes are mainly directed towards women. In the period during which the novel was authored, women were considered inferior and did not have an equal say with men. Their roles in the society were also limited, and they were always required to have the permissions of their husbands before getting involved in anything. However, despite all these negative sexist stereotypes of women that gave them an inferior position in the society the author reinforces them and shows how women could change the way they were perceived. Reinforcing sexist stereotypes of women are depicted in many places throughout the novel such as where we see women making their own decisions, becoming independent, getting educated, playing the piano, and giving out their opinions. The author demonstrates how various women authors went beyond mediocrity and overcame the stereotypes that undermine them, turning them into an advantageous edge.
Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. London: Michael O’Mara Books Limited, 2011. Print.
Chin-Yi, Chung. “Gender and Class Oppression In Jane Austen’ S Pride And Prejudice.” Academia.edu. N.p., 2017. Web. 9 Oct. 2017.
Gilman, Charlotte P. “The Yellow Wallpaper” and Other Stories. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications Inc, 1997. Print.