Young girls were often depicted as being seduced, almost in a predatory like manner. The case of Bedford versus McKowl is a case of a widowed woman suing the man who seduced her daughter over “lost services.” The Bedford versus McKowl case demonstrates the hypocrisy of the Regency era 's expectations on women and men. “The defendant was a married man; he had been for ten years separated from his wife, and instead of imposing himself for a single man upon the plaintiff 's family, he stated fairly his situation, and the young lady went off with him with a full knowledge of it” (“Court of Common Pleas”). The defendant 's lawyer “contended that his conduct was not so atrocious as what appeared in most cases of this kind.” A man in Regency England has...
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...essive fiction attesting to the abuses established power” (Johnson 55).
While Austen does not necessarily condemn women who elope, she does not explicitly or implicitly suggest her approval for such an act. While we cannot truly understand Austen 's thoughts on eloping, we can infer a general cultural distaste for those who chose to break tradition by crossing boundaries. Perhaps the most poignant expression of a woman 's place in society and the boundaries that bind is said by Mary in Pride and Prejudice, “Unhappy as the event must be for Lydia, we may draw from it this useful lesson: that loss of virtue in a female is irretrievable— that one false step involves her in endless ruin— that her reputation is no less brittle than it is beautiful— and that she cannot be too much guarded in her behaviour towards the undeserving of the other sex” (Pride and Prejudice 298).
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