The ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is a romantic novel written by Jane Austen who is well-known novel writer in these days. This play has two major characters who are Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. Elizabeth is a beautiful and intelligent girl, and Mr. Darcy is a very wealthy gentleman.
Jane Austen focused on love and the marriage in her novels even though she did not get married. This is why her novels are all about romance because she wants to achieve her happiness by using characters in her novel. So Jane Austen ends this novel with Elizabeth and Jane’s marriage.
In this essay, I am going on to look at Elizabeth’s attitude to social conventions of her class. Also I will go to analyse how Austen presented Elizabeth as an unusual heroine using the other characters and the background.
This novel was completed between October 1796 and August 1797. A woman’s position this time was largely limited to the home and the family. Women could not have any choice and could not stand up for her opinion to men or other high positioned people. Also daughters may not inherit any money or house when their father died.
In Korean culture in the late 17th century, there were only arranged marriages by parents. This was quite similar to English culture but in Korean culture, daughters could have their father’s money or house after his death. Also there was a social convention which applies to female as same as England. It was a male-dominated society, so female cannot stand up to male even they are equal status.
Early in the novel, Austen shows about Elizabeth’s attitude to marriage and how she is different to other woman in her society by Elizabeth’s rejection of Mr Collins’s proposal. Mr Collins ask Elizabeth to marry him but she said, ‘it is impossible for me to do otherwise than decline them’ because she is determined to marry for love, not money or other reasons. Mr. Collins’s proposal was very beneficial to Elizabeth and her sisters, because Mr. Collins will go on to take possession of Longborn estate after Mr. Bennet’s death. This is why Mrs. Bennet pushes Elizabeth to marry Mr. Collins, because if any of the daughters did not get married, they could live with Elizabeth in their house.
We can see Elizabeth is very unusual as compared to other women in late 17th century, because she refuses Mr. Collins’s proposal which was really great opportunity. If she was a normal 17th century women, she will accept the proposal at once.
Also Elizabeth stands up to Mr Collins’s attitudes and opinions while he proposes to her. He thinks Elizabeth’s refusal secretly means to acceptance. But Elizabeth replies, ‘You could not make me happy, and I am convinced that I am the last woman in the world who would make you so’ because she thinks that Mr Collins proposes to her without love.
This shows that Elizabeth rebels against accepted women’s behaviour in marriage again because she believes love and happiness is really significant in the marriage. She knows that Mr Collins does not love her, because he did not say that he loves her. Also she thinks that marriage without love will make her unhappy and she will regret her marriage later.
When Elizabeth refuses Mr. Collins’s proposal, Mrs. Bennet is very upset about her refusal and asked Mr. Bennet to persuade Elizabeth. But he said, ‘Your mother will never see you again of you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do’ which secretly means that he agree her as well.
There are some italics are used in Mr. Bennet’s speech. These are emphasise the main points of Mr Bennet’s and show how Mr. Bennet and Mrs. Bennet’s opinion of the marriages are opposite. Mr. Bennet thinks her happiness is important in the marriage and he is supporting Elizabeth’s opinion of the marriage. Mr. Bennet made Elizabeth’s attitude to the marriage more strong. Also this shows Mr. Bennet is not serious in about the marriages of his daughters and the relationship between Mr. Bennet and Mrs. Bennet is not smooth.
Mr Bennet’s belief that Elizabeth should not marry Mr. Collins is based upon his own experience: his marriage has perhaps not been happy, and the woman he chose as his wife was perhaps not suitable. These reasons could be the main reason why Elizabeth rebels against the accepted social conventions of her class because Mr Bennet educated her and she was not stopped when she said the opposite opinion of social convention. Possibly, she had an impressive experience during her lifetime which is her parents’ think and behaves each other.
However, after following Elizabeth’s refusal of Mr. Collins, Elizabeth heard that her friend Charlotte Lucas was engaged to him. When Charlotte come to Elizabeth and tells her that she was engaged Mr. Collins, Elizabeth become furious and very upset because she know her friend was not engaged for love. Charlotte said, ‘I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is as fair, as most people can boast on entering the marriage state.’ which means that love is not important as safety and money to her.
Charlotte is not as pretty and intelligent as Elizabeth; therefore she will not have any opportunity to choose her husband. She thought she is already a ‘burden’ to her parents because she is now over 20 years old. So she accepted Mr. Collins’s proposal easily.
A conversation with Charlotte about her engagement was a chance for Elizabeth to change her opinion of the marriage, because she can agree with her friend’s opinion. But she did not change her opinion.
When Elizabeth having the dinner with Lady Catherine, she stands up to Lady Catherine and shows her opposite opinion clearly. Lady Catherine said that Mr. Bennet family’s education is awfully odd and should alter, but Elizabeth said ‘I think it would be very hard upon younger sisters, that they should not have their share of society and amusement’ She thinks that she does not need to follow her opinion
Furthermore, when Lady Catherine advises about Elizabeth and her sisters’ behaviour and wants them to follow her opinion, Elizabeth said that ‘your Ladyship can hardly expect me to own it’ because she thinks that her and her sister are grow up enough and will be hard to change.
Elizabeth is not supposed to stand up to Lady Catherine who is upper class. But she demonstrated her opinion against Lady Catherine very directly. So, Elizabeth’s conversation made people surprise, because anyone can stand up to Lady Catherine who is very powerful and can judge everything.
The writer, Austen made her major character as an unusual woman because she thinks that the normal female characters in the romantic novels in late 18th century were compliant, meek and biddable. So she thought that she needs to change them, and writing the novels was her way to introduce the unusual woman.
The writer emphasize the Elizabeth’s opinion of the marriage by rejection if Mr. Darcy’s proposal. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy meet again at Rosings Park accidentally. At first time, Mr. Darcy becomes shy and embarrassed and did not say anything. Finally, Mr. Darcy proposes to Elizabeth declaring his love. But Elizabeth rejects him with very serious reasons. Elizabeth argues with Mr. Darcy about ‘ruining, perhaps forever the happiness of a most beloved sister?’ Elizabeth thought Mr. Darcy ruined Jane’s happiness by separates Mr. Bingley from her. And she realises he has very selfish manners because he separated them only for his friend Mr. Bingley.
Elizabeth refuses him more definitely and easily because at the time Mr. Darcy comes to her, was just after Elizabeth read the letter from Jane. Jane said, she has not met Mr. Bingley yet and she thinks meeting him in again will be impossible.
After Elizabeth’s expresses her opinion, Mr. Darcy shows his objection which is ‘Saved from the inconvenience from an unsuitable marriage’
Mr. Darcy has strong objections to the marriage of his close friend Mr. Bingley because Jane did not show enough reaction as much as Mr. Bingley. Also Mrs. Bennet pushes them to marry because he is wealthy. However, Elizabeth replies strongly that Jane loves Mr. Bingley so much and Jane is not showing her emotion to Elizabeth.
Also she makes a point of Mr. Wickham. She heard that Mr. Darcy took the all of Mr. Wickham’s money and opportunities which has been given by Mr. Darcy’s father, even though they were friends when they were young. She said to Mr. Darcy, ‘Who that knows what his misfortunes have been, can help feeling an interest in him?’ directly. This is kind of the prejudice of Elizabeth, because Elizabeth did not hear the affair from Mr. Darcy. Although, she trusts Mr. Wickham and likes him, so this point was a big reason to Elizabeth for rejecting Mr. Darcy’s proposal.
Moreover, Elizabeth said Mr. Darcy ruined ‘have reduced him to his present state of poverty, comparative poverty.’ Because she thought Mr. Darcy wants to become happy by marrying her even he ruined a person’s whole life. Every sentence between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth are conveying the idea of pride.
When Mr. Darcy left Elizabeth’s room, Elizabeth realises that she is so unhappy and begins to have agitated reflections. She realises that she has been wrong about Mr. Darcy and begins to slowly change her opinions about him after reads his letter. She still believes that she was right to refuse his offer of marriage and still feels very insulted by his behaviour and the things he has said. She begins to feel love when she visits his house and these feelings are confirmed when she discovers how much he has helped her family by making Mr. Wickham marry her younger sister.
In Chapter 56, Elizabeth stands up to Lady Catherine de Bourgh. She said that ‘I will make no promise of the kind.’ because she thinks that she insults her family ‘in every possible way.’ and has no reasons to promise to her. Lady Catherine thought that if Mr. Darcy marries Elizabeth, their family would disapprove because Elizabeth’s family is a middle class. Also her younger sister has just made a bad and scandalous marriage after running away with Mr. Wickham – this was a terrible thing to do at the time.
Many people say Elizabeth is a refreshing heroine. This is because Elizabeth refused Mr. Collins and Mr. Darcy’s proposal which was really great opportunities. Also she stands up to Lady Catherine de Bourgh with her own opinion. Elizabeth’s deportment is very different to other novel’s women characters. A normal woman in 17th century, they married for financial reasons, not love or happiness. Also they did not show their own thoughts against high position person. This is why readers describe Elizabeth as a refreshing and unusual heroine.
But I think she is not a refreshing heroine. This is because she refuses really good chances which can give her a protection and money. If she did not get marry after their proposal, probably she will realise that her opinion of marriage is wrong because she does not have money or protection after her father’s death. Also if she married middle class man or low class man, she will realise happiness is not important in marriage because she will be unhappy if she does not have enough money to eat or buy. So I think Elizabeth is not a refreshing heroine.