Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen Essay

1949 Words8 Pages
Chantal Fauconier

Jane Austen, a writer in 19th Century England, wrote about what she knew; namely the societal norms of her era and class. In a time where men were given all the status and privileges, she wrote novels predominantly about women, their position in society, and the roles that they played. Since women were not entitled to property, they would often grow up with the goal of finding a suitable husband
(Guidelines 1990:1). It is for this reason that people have criticised
Jane Austen’s writings - saying that she reinforced the norms of patriarchy by reassuring the reader about the order and stability of society. However her novels contain more than this in that her characters often go against the conventional norms
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Therefore, when Mr. Collins arrogantly tells Elizabeth that “My situation in life, my connections with the family of De Bourgh, and my relationship to your own are circumstances highly in my favour … it is by no means certain that another offer of marriage may ever be made to you (Austen1990: 97 – 98), she politely refused saying “I thank you again and again for the honour you have done me in your proposals, but to accept them is absolutely impossible. My feelings in every respect forbid it” (Austen 1990: 98).
Mr. Collins was shocked by her refusal as he expected her to conform to the societal conventions. This is one instance of rebellion versus conformity in the novel.

Elizabeth’s rebellion (and insistence of going against the conventional reasons for marrying) is contrasted with Charlotte’s conformity. Charlotte accepts Mr. Collin’s proposal as she is twenty seven and needs to secure her financial stability, knowing that another proposal might not come. Charlotte therefore, unlike
Elizabeth, married for money and not for love (Newton in Clark 1994:
131). Elizabeth thus sought her future husband with regards to how she felt about him and rebels against the expectations of society.
Therefore, Unlike Charlotte, Elizabeth will not violate
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