Jane Austenâ€™s Pride and Prejudice can be read as an historical account of gender roles, marriage, and society in the early 19th century. Most of the characters in the novel embody traditional 19th century standards. In literature, it is a common practice to try to emulate human nature when creating characters for stories. Jane Austen did this very well in Pride and Prejudice because of the range of personalities she used. Jane Austenâ€™s use of character development and Elizabeth, the protagonist, can help the reader to recognize the intention and feelings of the author.
These things make it very obvious what Austen is thinking: that Elizabeth is a very remarkable young woman due to her confidence, which allows her intelligence to shine through, all the while making her less trapped than the other young women in the novel.
Elizabeth Bennet constitutes a critique of traditional norms of womenâ€™s behavior. Her independence, intelligence, and bold personality do not hold to a traditional 19th-century view of women. In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth's strength of character is emphasized by its contrast with the weak, naive acceptance of Jane's character, the instability and excess of Mrs. Bennet's and the blind, sheep like following of Kitty's. Her strength is also shown in her rejections of the proposals of Mr. Collins and Darcy. Unlike her mother, she does not base her choice of love on the financial security that they could give to her, and has the strength and willingness to reject them. Elizabethâ€™s rejection of Mr. Collinâ€™s proposal does not conform to the submissive role that women were expected to adhere to. Elizabeth has no respect for the existing economic classes as seen by her rude disposition to Lady Catherine on her trip to Hunsford. Further, Elizabethâ€™s carefree and independent nature simply does not agree with the traditionally expected role of women.
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