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Compare the Representation of Relationships in ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and ‘Rapunzstiltskin’

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Pride and Prejudice is a classic novel about love and the role of women. Though times have changed, there is still a struggle for female independence and respect, in both relationships and the work place, despite the past desperate efforts of the suffragettes in the early 1900s and the present work of feminists and strong female characters today. However, Jane Austen’s novel has forever been the dream world of women all over the world because it’s a real story of the hardships in romance and the oppression of the ‘weaker sex’. In contrast, Liz Lochhead’s modern poem Rapunzstiltskin is less impressed with these romantic notions and looks unkindly on fairytales and the like, with their clichéd characters and false intentions. But on closer inspection, the two pieces may not be as different as they first appear.
In lines two and four of Rapunzstiltskin, the maiden is described as being ‘good & used to her isolation’ and ‘had come to almost love her tower’. The tower is a metaphor for imprisonment, just like women in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and so, the women of that era – if they weren’t married, they were stuck at home under the rule of their fathers and without any life. But in the same way, the maiden’s acceptance of her fate is reflected in Mary Bennet. She is an example of an unmarried woman, though she’s perfectly happy with it. In line 15, an ‘old hag’ is mentioned and we learn that after her sisters’ marriages, Mary was left at Longbourn with Mrs Bennet. Another situation whereby a young, unmarriable woman is left with an ‘old hag’ is that of Anne de Bourgh, heir and sole companion of Lady Catherine, her mother.
Later, in line 33, the maiden ‘was keener than a TV quizmaster’. This links to Pride and Prejudice becau...


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...lationships are similarly presented in both the novel and the poem. Pride and Prejudice does describe more unrealistic romances, but it still puts across the idea that women were beneath their men, just as in the poem. Neither piece condoles this, however, and are very negative towards that idea, but whereas Jane Austen simply goes against the norm by writing about the perfect relationships, Rapunzstiltskin is sceptical and pessimistic. Women in the time of Jane Austen dedicated their lives to being good-looking (seen in the vanity of Lydia and Kitty especially) and accomplished to ensure they were marriage material, just as the maiden tried to be enchanting and desirable for The Prince. Both texts definitely illustrate an imbalance and struggle for equality within the oppressive rules and expectations that revolved around women’s lives, and so, their relationships.


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