"Women have few choices in the world of Pride and Prejudice." With regard to Jane Austen's novel, do you agree? Please explain.
I need to write an essay on this topic and am seeking points and evidence/quotes for my essay.
In Jane Austen's novel, Pride and Prejudice, I agree that in that world, women did have few choices in the world.
The first most obvious and desired choice (according to the societal expectations of the day) was to marry, and marry well. In this way a woman could count on being cared for throughout her lifetime, and have the same care extended to her children (for being a mother was also a societal expectations of the day).
This expectation is inferred with the novel's opening lines:
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
If a man of good standing (and socially acceptable in being so) is to succeed in life, he must have a wife, and so the woman's role of providing herself as that acceptable wife may be inferred as equally important.
Of the few choices left to a woman, she must also be guided by her parents and, once again, what society not only expects, but what it will allow. In order for the any of the girls to meet Mr. Bingley (an eligible bachelor new to town), they must be introduced in an acceptable manner. Mr. Bennet believes Mrs. Bennet could make the introductions of Mr. Bingley to her "friend" Mrs. Long, but she declares she cannot do so, as she has not been introduced to him herself.
“Aye, so it is,” cried her mother, “and Mrs. Long does not come back till the day before; so it will be impossible for her to introduce him, for she will not know him herself.”
“Then, my dear, you may have the advantage of your friend, and introduce Mr. Bingley to her.”
“Impossible, Mr. Bennet, impossible—when I am not acquainted with him myself..."
(It later comes out that Mr. Bennet has, unbeknown to his family, already met Mr. Bingley, and so, by association, Mrs. Bennet has been "introduced" to the man and may return the "favor" to Mrs. Long.)
In this story, the daughters also have another concern in that one daughter must marry well to support the others. This is indicative that at least one of the Bennet daughters has no choice but to marry well, not for only her own sake, but for that of her family members. The estate is in great debt, so one daughter's successful marriage to a man of means will mean that she can "support" her family by such an arrangement.
Making a good marriage is the primary goal of a young woman of the time. Being a person of good moral standing and fine manners is also essential for this to take place. Only a woman of independent means herself would be able to live without the protection and care of a man.