Sample Reflection Paper on Literature: Is Elizabeth Bennet Modern For Her Time?

Reflection PaperLiterature

A reflection paper is an academic coursework which purpose is to present the thoughts of the writer regarding a specific topic. As the term itself suggests, the reflection paper is basically the product of deep reflection. This paper is often written in the form of an essay . The sample provided below features the writer’s thoughts on whether or not Elizabeth Bennet in Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice is too modern for her time.

Few female characters in literature have captured the world’s imagination the way Elizabeth Bennet in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice has. Since the novel’s publication in 1813, Elizabeth has been admired by readers in every era and portrayed in various works both on the big screen and the small. But what exactly is it about Elizabeth that readers love? Why is it that even after over two centuries, she still remains relevant to this day and is seen as a heroine in countless readers’ eyes? There are certainly many things to love about Elizabeth and many reasons that keep her relevant, but perhaps the most vital of these is her modernity. Elizabeth might not be exceedingly modern for her time, but she is definitely modern enough to appeal not only to readers at the time but to readers today as well. Her modernity is embodied in her progressive views on marriage, her truthful and direct manner, and her strong will.

One of the remarkable manifestations of Elizabeth’s modernity is her progressive views regarding marriage. The need to marry off the five Bennet sisters is the central conflict of the novel since a suitable marriage represents the sisters’ best chance for a comfortable future. This predicament was very common in the Georgian era because the general lack of access to education and gainful employment meant that middle class and upper class women had no choice but to depend on either inheritance or their husbands for financial security (Dabundo 40). Also, because marriages had to be economically strategic rather than purely romantic, it was not unusual for courtship to be short. Men and women were simply not given enough time to know each other well before marrying (Vickery). Unlike most of the characters in the novel, Elizabeth sees the absurdity of this arrangement. Talking to Charlotte about Jane’s courtship with Mr. Bingley in Chapter 6, Elizabeth remarks that “[Jane] has known him only a fortnight. She danced four dances with him at Meryton; she saw him one morning at his own house and has since dined in company with him four times. This is not quite enough to make her understand his character.” Elizabeth sees marriage as something that cannot be taken lightly or carelessly (Moe 1076). This scene is particularly important as it highlights how Elizabeth’s views are far more rational than the other characters, thus proving that her mind is modern for her own time.

Apart from her progressive views on marriage, Elizabeth also exhibits modernity by being direct and truthful in her manner. Women at the time were often expected to be submissive and reserved. Forwardness was equated to stubbornness and women who behaved in such a manner were generally seen as difficult to manage and therefore unsuitable as wives (Vickery). But Elizabeth refuses to disguise her thoughts and feelings and she is fully capable of forming her own opinions. An excellent example of this is a scene in Chapter 20. After turning down Mr. Collins’ marriage proposal, Mr. Collins assumes that she is merely being coy since it is the expected response from “elegant females.” But Elizabeth refutes Mr. Collins, telling him to “not consider me now as an elegant female, intending to plague you, but as a rational creature, speaking the truth from her heart.” Elizabeth’s frankness stands in sharp contrast to the other characters in the novel. Whereas characters such as Jane and Caroline express themselves in a generally oblique way and beat around the bush rather than get straight to the point, Elizabeth refuses to meander and instead says exactly what is on her mind. This tendency to speak plainly to avoid any ambiguity is a departure from the gender norms that direct feminine behavior at the time, thus making her a modern figure in a deeply traditional world.

Finally, Elizabeth shows her modernity by simply having a mind of her own. Is important to remember that social norms exerted a profound influence on the lives of early 19th century society. Class relations , for instance, determine the suitability of marriages as seen in how Jane and Elizabeth are regarded as unsuitable brides for Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy who belong to the upper tiers of the social hierarchy. That the disparity in their social stations is a barrier to marriage is made clear by Lady Catherine de Bourgh in Chapter 56. But rather than acquiesce to the social order, Elizabeth demonstrates that her mind alone governs her actions: “I have said no such thing. I am only resolved to act in that manner, which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness, without reference to you, or to any person so wholly unconnected with me.” These words are a testament to just how modern Elizabeth is compared to the other characters. As Chang writes, “Elizabeth will not bend to the expectations of women in society to forfeit her autonomy for a profitable marriage, affirming her will over social dictates” (82). Unlike Caroline Bingley, Lady Catherine, and even Mr. Darcy himself, Elizabeth does not allow the rigid norms that govern the social relations of her time to get in the way of her happiness. This is a testament to the assertion that she is way ahead of her era.

In the end, Elizabeth Bennet’s charm endures to this day because of her modern sensibility. Even as the centuries have passed and gender norms have changed , she remains a symbol of progressive mentality. Her rational views on marriage, her outspoken persona, and her capacity to govern her own decisions are traits that resonate to this day. It would be an exaggeration to say that Elizabeth is radically modern by today’s standards, for she simply is not. But what cannot be denied is that she is modern enough at the time of the novel’s writing, and it is this balancing act that makes her such a powerfully relatable figure. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.

While a reflection paper is among the many requirements you will submit in class, others include lab reports, research papers, and theses . If you find yourself swamped with too much coursework, let a professional writer from CustomEssayMeister handle the load for you. Our expert writers have essential writing skills for your needs.

Works Cited

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. New York, Penguin Publishing Group, 2009.

Chang, Hui-Chun. “The Impact of the Feminist Heroine: Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice.” International Journal of Applied Linguistics & English Literature, vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 76-82.

Dabundo, Laura. “The Feminist Critique and Five Styles of Women's Roles in Pride and Prejudice.” Critical Insights: Jane Austen, edited by Jack Lynch, Salem Press, 2011, pp. 39-53.

Moe, Melanie. “Charlotte and Elizabeth: Multiple Modernities in Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice.’”ELH, vol. 83, no. 4, pp. 1075-1103.

Vickery, Amanda. The Gentleman’s Daughter: Women’s Lives in Georgian England. New Haven, Yale University Press, 2003.

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