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Role of WomenWhat is the role of the 19th-century women in "Pride and...

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irishbrit | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 17, 2008 at 11:08 PM via web

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Role of Women

What is the role of the 19th-century women in "Pride and Prejudice"? Are there any sources in the novel that explain the role?

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lhc | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted December 22, 2008 at 12:55 PM (Answer #2)

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Women in England in the 1800's, which is when Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice is set, had one primary function, which was to marry, and marry well.  The Bennet girls have a temporarily comfortable life, for in the absence of sons, when their father dies, his property will be inherited by their cousin, Mr. Collins. For this reason, the Bennet's mother is usually in a frenzy trying to orchestrate the marriage of her daughters.   Elizabeth Bennet, her third of four girls, is a delightful young lady who refuses to lose her individualism and personal identity in a society that encourages women to do exactly that. However, much like her father, Elizabeth doesn't take too seriously her mother's flighty schemes to get her married. The role of women, especially upper crust women in England at the time is to look beautiful, speak only of pleasantries, and marry quickly, preferably to someone with some wealth at his disposal.  On this eve of the Industrial Revolution, this world stands in stark contrast to the one that will soon evolve in Britain, where women's roles will transform into something completely different.

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slchanmo1885 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted December 30, 2008 at 6:16 PM (Answer #3)

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In the novel, there are many, many specific quotes that discuss exactly what lhc said in post #2.

Some of them are:
Chapter One: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters."

Chapter 10: "Elizabeth, having rather expected to affront him, was amazed at his gallantry; but there was a mixture of sweetness and archness in her manner which made it difficult for her to affront anybody; and Darcy had never been so bewitched by any woman as he was by her. He really believed, that were it not for the inferiority of her connections, he should be in some danger."

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stephen-moore | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 1, 2009 at 6:45 PM (Answer #4)

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Women in England in the 1800's, which is when Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice is set, had one primary function, which was to marry, and marry well.  The Bennet girls have a temporarily comfortable life, for in the absence of sons, when their father dies, his property will be inherited by their cousin, Mr. Collins. For this reason, the Bennet's mother is usually in a frenzy trying to orchestrate the marriage of her daughters.   Elizabeth Bennet, her third of four girls, is a delightful young lady who refuses to lose her individualism and personal identity in a society that encourages women to do exactly that. However, much like her father, Elizabeth doesn't take too seriously her mother's flighty schemes to get her married. The role of women, especially upper crust women in England at the time is to look beautiful, speak only of pleasantries, and marry quickly, preferably to someone with some wealth at his disposal.  On this eve of the Industrial Revolution, this world stands in stark contrast to the one that will soon evolve in Britain, where women's roles will transform into something completely different.

Elizabeth is the second oldest of five daughters.

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irishbrit | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 7, 2009 at 9:04 PM (Answer #5)

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Thanks for the help you guys! Are there any other sources from the book stating their role? I just can't seem to find many.

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irishbrit | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 8, 2009 at 12:52 PM (Answer #6)

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Okay, so I must write a critical research paper, and argue the role of women during the 19th century. I am struggling to put a thesis together that is both argumentative and specifically deals with the novel and the topic.

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