What do the characters in Pride and Prejudice reveal about the role of women in society?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I assume you are referring to the society in which Jane Austen was writing. Well, I think one of the major issues that this text reveals is the way that being a woman was all about marrying well, and then once you had married, having children and then making sure that they marry well. Of course, you might want to think about this through considering the delightful character of Mrs. Bennet, who is a flat character who, now she is married, only lives to try and marry off her daughters to any suitable (and unsuitable) gentleman that has the misfortune to come into her path. Note the way that Mrs. Bennet is described after the wedding of Jane and Lizzie:

Happy for all her maternal feelings was the day on which Mrs. Bennet got rid of her two most deserving daughters. With what delighted pride she afterwards visited mrs. Bingley and talked of Mrs.Darcy may be guessed.

Of course, all this points to the rather limited sphere that women could occupy. Their place was the sitting room, the ball room, paying visits to neighbouring families and, if they were lucky, going on holiday to places such as Brighton and Bath. However, at the same time, marriage for some of the characters in this novel is shown as an escape from dependency and spinsterdom, such as Charlotte's interesting choice of a husband. Either way, women occupied a restricted position in society which revolved around the question of marriage.

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Pride and Prejudice

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