Can the lessons learned from Harriet (Emma), Eliz. (P & P), & Anne (Persuasion) be applied to the experiences of woman today?
Anne is caught up in the world of peer pressure. She is swayed by the interests of her closest friends to give up on a man she deeply loves. Those interests are focused upon status and support - can a man support you? This issue is still one that plagues women. In a world where the mother is still expected to be the caretaker of children, and where women still make $0.77 on the $1.00 of what men are making, a woman is practical to consider livlihood when choosing a partner. However, Captain Wentworth was capable of providing for her. He just wasn't "good enough" based on her friends opinions. This is a good lesson for both men and women, to have more confidence in your own feelings and judgement, and rely less on others.
Women today, especially teenage girls, are often swayed by the inticement of the "in" crowd, of moving themselves up socially based on the status of wealth and fashion. Truth of this is evident in the media, both fictional shows and the exploits of stars. Harriet is such a girl, she allows her desire for "status" to overwhelm her judgement, like Anne allowed love of friends to do. She relies too heavily on Emma and must stand on her own before achieving happiness in the end.
I can speak to Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice. Elizabeth will not allow herself to be pushed around...not by her parents, nor the smarmy Mr. Collins, nor Lady Catherine or even Darcy. She stands up for what she believes in, even if the price of her beliefs may be her security and the appeasement of both her parents and her society. What Elizabeth must learn to balance is her pride, which sometimes leads her to shove away positive things and her prejudice against people she sizes up without a whole lot of evidence to support her opinions. Elizabeth is a stellar example of a strong, intelligent woman who lives by her principles yet is able to learn from her mistakes, something that never goes out of fashion.