Does Jane Austen address the theme of gender injustice in her treatment of love and marriage in Pride and Prejudice.elucidate.

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

From the very start of the story Jane writes in her epilogue the subtlety ironic words:

IT is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

Austen, a staunch independent woman herself, obligingly ensured that the topics of gender injustice prevailed and permeated throughout the story. The character of Elizabeth represents Jane's own views and behaviors during this period in history, where women were admitted as the property of their husbands.

Through Elizabeth, Jane voices her opinion and frustrations albeit also her tolerance of this reality.

First, we have Mrs. Bennett having none other than 5 children, all of them daughters- Her mission is therefore to marry them off well, or else they will become destitute in society.

Second, the estate in which the Bennetts live is at the mercy of their far cousin Mr. Collins ONLY because Mr. Bennett, having 5 daughters, will die without an heir whenever he does. In that time, properties could only be transferred from males to males.

Charlotte, the anti-Austen, says plainly how she will accept to marry Mr. Collins so that she can come of some property, company, and earn social respect.

Lydia, Elizabeth's younger sister who eloped with Wickham to  her social disgraced was married off by the generosity of Darcy and his intentions to clean up her act and that of Wickham's. As she returns, Lydia considers herself higher ranking than her sisters because she is now married and insists on everyone in town knowing it.

Lady Catherine DeBourgh, who wanted to marry Darcy to her own daughter Miss Debourgh had already that marriage planned and flattened out simply because it was "natural" that marriage was made for the purpose of acquiring or joining fortunes rather than for love.

In Pride and Prejudice, the women who were happy and content were, gladly, the women who waited for their true love. The rest were all seen as victims of their own social limitations.

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Pride and Prejudice

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