Elizabeth as a Woman of Independent Mind in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice

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Elizabeth as a Woman of Independent Mind in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice In Jane Austen's novel 'Pride and Prejudice', Elizabeth Bennet is shown to be an opinionated, "headstrong" young woman. Her unconventional independence challenges the 19th century stereotype of high society women, who tended to conform to the expectations of society. Though her prejudiced judgement of others fails her sometimes, Elizabeth has "a lively, playful disposition, that" delights "in anything ridiculous". Although different in character to most women of her society, Elizabeth still manages to express much propriety in the presence of company. During the dance she shares with Fitzwilliam Darcy, her temper is put to the test. His earlier declaration that Elizabeth was "not handsome enough to tempt" him manages to offend her, though she is "not formed for ill humour", therefore laughs it off as if she were telling a tale. Elizabeth displays the same decorum in the presence of the Bingley sister's. Though she dislikes them, she does not show this in their presence. During her visit to Rosings, Elizabeth meets with Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Upon being asked, "what is your age" by Lady Catherine, Elizabeth replies politely that with "three younger sisters grown up" she is hardly entitled "to own" it. Elizabeth's indirect answer is evidence of her taking offence, but also of her ability to conceal it with much propriety. Elizabeth's refusal to marry Mr. Collins because her "feelings forbid it", much to the dislike of her mother, depicts her independence and inability to be intimidated. Mr Bennet's regard to Elizabeth holding "something more of quicknes... ... middle of paper ... ...ncounter with Darcy at Hunsford changes her perception of both men instantaneously. She feels "absolutely ashamed" of her behaviour towards Darcy, and concludes that she has been "blind, partial, prejudiced, absurd" for not realizing Darcy to be the "one with all the goodness", and Wickham "the other with all the appearance of it". After reflecting over her prejudice, Elizabeth shows herself to be more humble than proud by accepting she must personally apologise to Darcy. To conclude, Elizabeth is the independent minded heroine of Pride and Prejudice. Her morals and good sense distinguish her from other women in society. Able to redefine and challenge gentility, Elizabeth is Austen's image of a female protagonist who challenges the conventionality of her day, and stills inspires the admiration of all readers.
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