Jane Austen And Feminist Literary Criticism

Categories: Jane Austen

¨It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife – narrator¨. What has been cited in the previous line was the line of thought of an eighteenth-century society, but does its thinking and criteria resemble the current way? Evidently, the modern society has contemporary ideologies and points of view, synthetizing, it is a reckless society; a different looking society that acts radically in change of the society of the Regency era.

Regent writers utilized crucial situations to send a message of the behavior of their society. The writer Jane Austen uses the literary genre Regency Romance to develop themes like, marriage, wealth, class and self- knowledge in her outstanding Pride and Prejudice novel. The literary work shows the reality of the women of the eighteen and nineteen century, whose limitations included freedoms such as civil rights and moral liberty.

Jane Austen was born in December 16, 1775 and was the seventh of the rector of the Anglican parish.

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Her family was close and her parents stressed her and his siblings to think creatively and learn as much as possible. The whole family had something in common, which was literature. She liked writing so much that she started creating art with her pencil in her early adolescence; the most curious fact about her works were focused on romance. The adulthood was the stage where she blooms as a writer, and create the novels that distinguish her, for example, Elinor and Marianne which will be later titled Sense and Sensibility; Mansfield Park; Emma; and finally, First Impressions which will later be famous as Pride and Prejudice.

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Later her dad dies, and she and her family suffer instability because women had no rights for the time, so after long time later she moved with her brother and then start publishing her novels anonymously. However, she could only have the joy to publish four novels since she became ill with Addison´s disease. After struggling with the illness and continuing to work on her literary pieces she died in July 18, 1817, leaving two unfinished novels .

Jane Austen had many influent factors to write her novel, some examples are her social status, the era, feminist believes and writers of the British Literature. Her social status had a place in the gentry. The gentry is the growing middle class, mostly it was composed by the lower nobility and the bourgeoise. Her social class is resembled in many of her literary pieces, but especially Pride and Prejudice, which she gives details of the live of a woman not only of her era but of that gentry level. However, the social status is relevant but not crucial as it is the historic period in which this writer not only lived, but got inspire to write.

The author lived in Britain during the eighteen and nineteen century, an era where Britain was starting to experience one of the most relevant transformations of their history. This era is known as the Gerogian era, named after the kings George I, George II, George III, and George IV. During the Georgian era came out multiple kinds of literature that impacted the society, for example the Regency novels that bloom during the last phase of the Georgian Era. The Regency period, is named after the historic moment when George III became ill and his son prince George ruled as a regent or substitute. Also, this period begins after the French Revolution, which in many novels is alluded to in some writings; however, the basis of literature during this period is the sub-genre of Romanticism that featured a focus in manners, marriage and the drastic change of the fashion. Synthetizing, the Regent Period was a period of drastic and important transformations that impulse writers to innovate parallel to the society, but not everything was parallel, and the factor that did not match was the criteria and thought of some individuals but specifically women.

Austen was one of the least found type of women that separated herself from the common feminine society. Feminism is a dynamic theory that has united women to support each other and fight for a cause, but Jane did not have the opportunity to have that union. In the eighteen century women were not allowed to write or publish novels. Based on Tess Sohngen: Female novelist of the time were still considered ¨lude and indiscreet¨, many taking male pen names so their work was not shunned in bookstores. But Austen, run after the norms and decide not to marry, write and later publish her pieces anonymously or by other names. She got inspired by two great writers that focused on themes such as female dominance over the emotions of man, male dominance over the physicality of woman, female delicacy and their reputation, violence to women and etc.; those authors were Frances Burney and Samuel Richardson.

Those two columns were the pillars of wisdom that help her to undertake the construction of a house of ideas and new thematic to send a message to all the repressed women and leave a lesson to the future generations, that the society limited women from rights and moral liberties, but never accomplished to limit a woman´s mind; because if that would have happen Jane Austen would not write the novel Pride and Prejudice. The novel Pride and Prejudice is about the Bennet family, a family who belonged to what the gentry class, they were not the richest and powerful family, but neither were poor. Mrs. Bennet was mother to five daughters, each unique in personality but common in the morals thanks to their mother´s requirements. Mrs. Bennet urges her daughters to find a man and get marry, but not anyone, the man had to be wealthy enough to maintain her daughters.

The luck sits by the Bennet´s family side when a rich young man called Mr. Bingley arrive to Meryton, the town where they lived in the Longbourn house. A time later a ball was celebrated in the town; on that ball Jane, the eldest of the Bennet sisters met Mr. Bingley and they attract to each other. By other side, there was Elizabeth, the second eldest daughter who felt humiliated when Mr. Bingley urges Mr. Darcy, a friend of his, to dance with her but he replied: ¨ She is tolerable, I suppose, but not handsome enough to tempt me¨. That reply was the first step of a stairway of pride and prejudice.

Then Mr. Darcy ironically ended up falling for Elizabeth and even ended up inviting her to dance. Lizzy, how everyone called Elizabeth, was also starting to feel something for Darcy but was confused because she taught of him as an egocentric and prideful person, so she preferred to ignore the feeling as it kept growing inside her. Darcy and Bingley went out of town for a long time and Lizzy met Mr. Wickham, one of Mr. Darcy´s estate servant. Wickham flirted with Elizabeth and talk offensively about Darcy by inventing terrible rumors, but the flirting ended up on nothing since he stopped looking for Elizabeth and started dating a rich girl. In the meantime, Elizabeth had proposals and men behind her, but she did not want to marriage for money like her friend Charlotte did. The destiny reunited Darcy and Elizabeth and subsequently he confessed his love to her but she avoided the love feelings and faced him.

She shoots the fact by that she would not like to be with a person who mistreats others, referring to Mr. Wickham, a cunning man whose ambition for money made him an actor whose real identity was being bad; and by telling Bingley at the beginning, to not marry Jane because the social status was low even though he was falling for her . Darcy apologized and warned Elizabeth to not believe in Wickham but blinded by the prejudice, she did not hear him and then felt guilty when later he and Lydia, the youngest of the Bennet sisters elope. However, Mr. Darcy prove Elizabeth that he really loves her and showing her how he can let bis pride by a side by finding Lydia and paying Wickham a sum of money, so that he does not dishonor her and the Bennet family. Finally, after ups and downs, the two couples: Bingley and Jane; and Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth, ended up having their proposals ready to get married thanks to the bond of love and not money.

The novel´s main characters are the Bennet sisters, they had the idea that marriage was necessary as result of the manners established by their society, but that constant line of manners broke when Elizabeth decides to make a change, in difference of her sisters. Elizabeth broke a social pattern by having pride and caring for her place as a woman and not an object. Each character in this novel, has to be analyzed in other to learn how the society behaved. For example, the mother, Mrs. Bennet, whose work is to educate and support their child, only require, and require their daughters with her obsession of finding a wealthy husband that maintain them. She was so obsessed that in public events embarrassed the girls with her desire of being wealthier and powerful. Mrs. Bennet character resembles irony since she required good manners but her behavior demonstrated he had no education. Mr. Bennet also had imperfections as everyone, but his was allowing too much power to his wife, and despite he loved his daughters he withdraws the theme of marriage.

They were not the best parents because when Bingley disappeared and Jane got depressed or when Jane got sick, they do not care, and even insisted her to keep tract of Bingley. They as parents were so permissible that got to the point of loosing the control of their youngest daughters, who they as parents taught that were foolish, but did anything to make a change. In other hand, Kitty and Lydia were foolishly and frivolously influenced by their mother; this can be seen as they both pass days and hours flirting with the officers of the militia and only cared for that. But there is a Bennet sister that is not quite mentioned throughout the novel, Mary Bennet, she is the most studious and is described as the most accomplished girls in the neighborhood but embarrassed her family in the ball. Jane was good-looking but had a big imperfection, and was that she saw everything and everyone with good eyes, as the reader meets Jane throughout the novel can infer that she has no self- love or pride. Jane demonstrates the real suffering of a woman in those times since she was depended so much in others in change of Elizabeth.

On the other hand, is Elizabeth, whom since the beginning of the piece demands her own pride and respects her place as a woman. Elizabeth has a sparking wit that compliments well her sense of differencing between a foolish or wise decision. Her pride and prejudice are what in most occasions saved her from difficulties but also led her to the main problems of the novel. She has a unique line of thought, a completely different, despite she ends up prejudicing the same way Mr. Darcy first prejudge her at the ball and also misjudge Wickham. An interest fact about Elizabeth is that she recognizes the inappropriate behavior of her family contradicting how they want to be seen, seen like educated and mannered people. She has confidence in herself and knows her worth and chooses a different path from the one her mother requires. She went against her own family values to defend her criteria, to defend her self-respect based on the ideal and actual movement called feminism.

Feminist literary criticism analyzes the women´s inferior representation and suppressed conditions in the society. Patriarchy is seen in the form of the existing system of entailment, because women could not buy an estate and were practically forced to get married. Jane illustrates the suffering of women by not having the right to have liberty, to have freedom of speech, and share all the rights that men had. Jane showed her belief of gender equality via Elizabeth Bennet, who told to the judging Darcy´s aunt: ¨ He is a gentleman and I am a gentleman´s daughter. So far, we are equal¨. Austen had her hopes of an equal world, were not just civil rights were available for everyone, but that moral values change, especially respect.

Jane Austen surely did not get to hear the word feminism since it is a recent concept, but she made more than a modern feminist activist could do. The novel illustrates the inferior conditions in which women of the Regent era had to adapt and invites the reader to research about the era and the author. Austen gave life to fictional characters about a reality that needs to be learned; a society that can be compared and contrasted with the modern society. A society were women had no voice, and were subjected to screaming and crying in their minds in the want of answers that they could not question to others but their selves. Jane also gave the humanity a message about how the pride and prejudice sometimes asserts perfectly in situations and how they could end up being the biggest errors when that behavior is decided to be taken mistakenly.

But the second universal truth, and it is not that a wealthy man is in want of a wife, is that pride and prejudice are a theme of luck because no one is prepared for none of those. It is luck because no matter how well or bad things end, the individual will learn something from that situation just like everyone who reads the novel Pride and Prejudice. Finally, the first and most important universal truth is that women of past centuries had resisted suffer and invisibility but women are so brave and strong that they always find the way to shine bright and high, just like Jane Austen who is now in the sky illuminating societies and generations with her pieces and characters. Elizabeth Bennet, another bright creation of Austen, shows that changes can be achieved and that to change the world, you only need to start believing in yourself, undertake, persevere and finally inspire other women.

Updated: Nov 01, 2022
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Jane Austen And Feminist Literary Criticism. (2022, Jun 06). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/jane-austen-and-feminist-literary-criticism-essay

Jane Austen And Feminist Literary Criticism essay
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