Jane Austen's View Of Women

Jane Austen and her Women

Jane Austen has been described as a feminist because of

her portrayal of women in her novels. Pride and Prejudice

has been the discussion of critics for many years. But more

or less, her feminism relates to her background. During

the Regency Period, women were not expected to maintain

a life for themselves. They were influenced by their families

to marry well in order to have a good future and be

provided for. There was a strong emphasis placed on

money and class which is clearly evident in Pride and

Prejudice. This style of living provided the background for

this novel, which some people refer to as feminism and

others to the satirizing of women in this age of history.

Austen could be described as a feminist in writing at all.

But she wrote from her world and her ( womanly ) point of

view. As she said on her own limitations I must keep to

my own style and go on my own way; and though I may

never succeed again in that I am convinced that I should

totally fail in any other . ( Dawson 1 ) She painted the

world she knew. The absence of large passions and

romance is absent from her pages because it was absent

from her life. Her love life was said to be sad and strange.

But she went on writing and provided her audience with

entertainment from her silly characters in Pride and


Some of Austen s women were considered to be silly

such as Mrs. Bennet and Lydia. Mrs. Bennet is described as

a foolish, noisy woman whose only goal in life is to see her

daughters married, and Lydia as gossipy, immature, and

self-involved. ( Douthat 3 ) But she also presented a

varitey of characters that she made fun of. On the male

side, a prime example would be Mr. Collins, a pompous

clergyman who seeks to inheirt Mr. Bennet s property. But

then of course there is Elizabeth who proves to be an

admirable heroine who insists on being treated as a rational

creature. Through the character of Charlotte Lucas, Austen

presents a rather cool and objective view of the limited

options open to women. During the Regency Period,

women did not recieve the same offers of education that

were offered to the gentlemen. They usually did not have

careers and were expected to recieve a practical training for

their domestic role. One quote from a male stated that

women should read neither poetry or politics--nothing but

of books of piety and cookery. ( RoP 2 ) The majority of

girls time was spent on sewing and needlework.

Throughout Pride and Prejudice Elizabeth or Jane works on

their cross-stitch during their lesiure time. The household

work though, was actually done by the servants.

Mrs.Bennet prides herself on her family s being too genteel

for her daughters to be involved in the cooking, unlike the

Lucas family. ( RoP 2 )

In 1870, Anthony Trollope declared that Throughout all her works, a sweet lesson of

homely household womanly virtue is ever being taught. ( RoP 2 ) But it is not hard to

see some feminist tendencies. She did however, write about strong willful women


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