What are some ways that all five of the sister rebel against societal norms during the Victorian era?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Pride and Prejudice the five Bennett sisters certainly break the mold of Victorian social expectations by the way that they could conduct themselves in public, with members of the opposite sex, and with people of "higher" social ranking than themselves.

Kitty and Lydia, the younger Bennett sisters, work together finding boyfriends for themselves. They do not maintain the decorum of Victorian courtship. Instead, they go after the boys-mostly military officers- and openly begin conversations with them, and let themselves be seen in their company. That is a huge no-no in Victorian society. All relations are to be planned ahead by the parents and for the purpose of marriage. The open friendships between men and women are meant to be planned events.

Mary somewhat follows the expectations of her time but only because she had no other choice. She is plain-looking which makes her over exert herself in looking smart. The result is that she sounds rather snobbish and annoying.

Jane and Elizabeth are the semi-normal sisters who have both brains and looks. Jane is too quiet to cause any stir, so she really does not break with any conventions. Elizabeth, however, commits the major sin of speaking her mind and confronting Lady Catherine DeBourgh, among many other people of higher social standing.

Victorian social ranking is defined clearly and boundaries are not meant to be crossed. When Elizabeth blasts back at Lady Catherine and caused her to be upset she is breaking a huge social rule. She does the same with Darcy, and with whoever crosses her. This does not let her look lady-like. Not looking submissive and lady-like means losing the chance of having a husband. That is another huge no-no of the time.

Therefore, it is only 3 of the 5 sisters who really act rebelliously against social norms.

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Pride and Prejudice

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