Women in the 19th Century

747 Words2 Pages

During the 1800s, society believed there to be a defined difference in character among men and women. Women were viewed simply as passive wives and mothers, while men were viewed as individuals with many different roles and opportunities. For women, education was not expected past a certain point, and those who pushed the limits were looked down on for their ambition. Marriage was an absolute necessity, and a career that surpassed any duties as housewife was practically unheard of. Jane Austen, a female author of the time, lived and wrote within this particular period. Many of her novels centered around women, such as Elizabeth Bennet of Pride and Prejudice, who were able to live independent lives while bravely defying the rules of society. The roles expected of women in the nineteenth century can be portrayed clearly by Jane Austen's female characters of Pride and Prejudice.

Education for women in the 1800s was far different from what we know today. During her life, a girl was taught more necessary skills around the home than the information out of school books. A woman’s formal education was limited because her job opportunities were limited—and vice versa. Society could not conceive of a woman entering a profession such as medicine or the law and therefore did not offer her the chance to do so. It was much more important to be considered 'accomplished' than thoroughly educated. Elizabeth Bennet indicated to her sisters that she would continue to learn through reading, describing education for herself as being unstructured but accessible. If a woman desired to further he education past what her classes would teach her, she would have to do so independently, and that is what most women did.

Marriage in the nineteent...

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...took to writing. An author would certainly not be looked at as a respectable career, and yet those who achieved so did not care. Her social standing would fall, such did Elizabeth's. Regardless of her efforts the standards remained. A good, respectable woman married wisely, birthed children and acted as a proficient homemaker. Careers were mindfully left to the men in this time period.

In conclusion, the roles of the Bennet sisters were quite typical to that of their time period. They all were expected to find strength and meaning of self in a submissive state and in dedication to only their home and family. Their educations only prepared them for a homemaking career, while striving for a respectable marriage. It is women like Jane Austen and her creation, Elizabeth Bennet, who lived bending the boundaries of society and have shaped it into the one we live in today.

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