Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice: A Famous Work of England's Regency Period

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The Regency Period in England was an extravagant era often associated with prominent social, political, economic, and artistic advancements. It took place in the early 1800’s and was a time of much elegance and aristocracy. Movies and books set in this time period all seem to highlight the elegance and romance that was prevalent at the time. Famous Regency Era literary works, such as Pride and Prejudice, portray young English women getting their happily-ever-after endings with their true loves. Unfortunately, such endings did not actually happen to real women of the era because they lived very austere and vapid lives. They hardly had a choice in many of their lives’ decisions and had little to no career options. These women were raised from birth to be lady-like, obedient, and agreeable in order to attract respectable men to marry, as they were fully dependant on men. Women were essentially treated as property passed on from their fathers to their husbands. They had many restrictions placed on them and often weren’t even allowed to walk outside without proper accompaniment. Because the expectations placed on women were so rigid and absurd, some feminist authors from the time ridiculed these social standards in their writing. Famous novelist Jane Austen was known for satirizing many social customs of the Regency Period in her romantic fiction novels, placing a special emphasis on women’s rights. Pride and Prejudice in particular depicted protagonist Elizabeth Bennet as a smart, headstrong, free thinking individual who didn’t let negative outside forces sway her beliefs. In Pride and Prejudice, Austen challenges the social propriety and creates her own ideals for women through Elizabeth Bennet’s independence, intelligence, and stron...

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...stantly trying to be agreeable and passive and allowed her to speak her mind and act upon her values. Elizabeth was very active in her life and expressed her thoughts when she wasn’t happy with something. This is in stark contrast with agreeable, passive women that were idealized by society in the Regency Period. Because Elizabeth was so independent and freethinking, Austen gave her an ideal ending and initiated the rewriting of societal norms for women in the process. Austen was known for her subtle but powerful social commentary in her books, especially on women’s rights and equality. Her ideas of how women should live and be treated were very ahead of her time and she helped pave the way for other feminists. Her character, Elizabeth Bennet, will always be iconic in the history of feminism for being one of the first to promote female independence and individuality.
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