Essay Elizabeth Bennet And The Predicament Of The Ideal Woman

Essay Elizabeth Bennet And The Predicament Of The Ideal Woman

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Elizabeth Bennet and the Predicament of the Ideal Woman
In one of Jane Austen’s most acclaimed novel, Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth is her sassy independent protagonist. However, is she the ideal woman? Feminism in the Regency Era was defined by women wanting education and an equal position in family and homes. In this era, the ideal lady had to be modest, dutiful, beautiful, and rich, especially to gain a wealthy husband. With this narrow, cookie cut definition, not many women fit this criteria. This is greatly highlighted in this satirical novel of the upper class. Elizabeth Bennet is a feminist wanting equal positioning in society, but does not fit the mold of the ideal woman according to the Regency Era.
Elizabeth, according to her time period, is very much a feminist in regard to wanting an equal position in society and more. A feminist in the Regency Era seemed “focused on the lack of education for females and on the moral autonomy and authority of males within the family structure” (Jeffer). Her main goal when meeting new people was to establish that she was on the same level as them, and demand the same amount of respect. To be a feminist meant to not look upon gaining equal rights in the workforce, more so with earning equal standing in the individual’s family structure. “In Austen’s interpretation, feminism in her time meant having independence and keeping some distance from the males of the family to maintain your own identity” (Alafaireet). This is a striking parallel to Jane Austen’s own life, which was dictated by members of the patriarchal society. Austen’s characters sometimes reflected her own life, so as Austen wanted to distance herself away from the patriarchal society, so did Elizabeth. She wanted an equa...

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...of wedlock. Elizabeth being a feminist with strong opinions about society and her family made her be the living antonym of the perfect woman. Being a feminist and being an ideal woman were opposites then, and due to Elizabeth’s strong opinions about feminine equality, she does not fit the mold of the ideal woman.
In Jane Austen’s satirical novel of the upper class society, Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet is a true feminist according to the Regency Era, and thus does not fit the mold of the perfect woman. Feminism with this old definition meant wanting equal positioning in family and equal worth to men in society. Elizabeth is not a well regarded feminist until the end of the book where she marries Darcy and her worth goes up in society. After marrying Darcy, Elizabeth is both a justified feminist and the opposite of the ideal woman by Regency Era standards.

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