Women Putting Down Other Women in Pride and Prejudice

782 WordsJun 22, 20184 Pages
Feminists contend that throughout history, women have been treated as less than human by men. However, women are not exempt from putting down other women, especially those who are of lower social rank. In Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, women are seen treating other women unequally based upon their appearance, manners, and skills. During the Regency era appearance was extremely important. If a woman arrived at a party under or overdressed she would be mocked and ridiculed for days by other women. Since propriety was valued as well, those who were dressed scandalously would be avoided by others to safeguard their reputation. Appearance was also and indicator of social status and wealth, which determined whether or not a person was…show more content…
Despite the fact that the Bennet family comes from gentry and are of the same social ranking, her appearance leads the ladies to consider her far inferior to any of them. Manners were also very important in the Regency era. Woman were judged on how they behaved in public and one little mistake could cause extreme embarrassment. They were expected to “possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions”v. Although Elizabeth follows most of the social norms of the era, she is too outspoken and strong-willed which causes many of the other women to dislike her: “Her [Elizabeth] manners were pronounced to be very bad indeed, a mixture of pride and impertinence; she had no conversation, no style, no taste, no beauty.”vi Caroline, Mr. Bingley's sister, also remarks that “in her [Elizabeth's] air altogether, there is a self-sufficiency without fashion, which is intolerable”vii. Lydia and Kitty, two of Elizabeth's younger sisters, are also viewed very negatively because of their manners. Elizabeth describes Lydia as “unguarded and imprudent”viii and says that Kitty “will follow wherever Lydia leads – vain, ignorant, idle, and absolutely uncontrolled!”ix They are both seen as very immature throughout the novel and risk their reputation by spending a great deal of time with the soldiers stationed in town. Lydia also causes a great embarrassment to the Bennet family by
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