Pride And Prejudice- Women And Male Role From Pride And Prejudice To Today

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In Pride and Prejudice, the book takes place in an era where gender roles were firm. From Georgian era to now, gender roles have changed drastically, from how women now can work and get the same education as men. In Pride and Prejudice, the only thing women could do to move from their families is to get married. Women at this time such as the Bennet sisters could have not been able to work or live by themselves. Moving onto men roles in this book, Jane Austen showed us how they were superior over women. Men were the ones who received the best education and were the voice of the family. As seen in Pride and Prejudice, women have little power in society in relation to men, it is clearly described. It is necessary that a woman in this society get married to a wealthy man, if possible, as the males are considered to be their family providers. Jane Austen’s key theme, gender roles, gives us a clear image of how women and male roles worked in the book and how it has changed over the years.

Pride and Prejudice is a story about the Bennet family. They consist of a father, mother, and five young daughters. The family’s problem is the lack of a son, so if Mr. Bennet were to die, all his money and property would go to a male cousin in the family, such as Mr. Collins. This is why at the very beginning Mrs. Bennet is trying to marry her daughters off to respectful men that had fortune. “The business of Mrs. Bennet’s life is to get her daughters married” (pg.2). Women were considered weaker back in the day while men were the superior ones and we can see this in Austen’s book. In present day, men and women are equal and there is no such thing as being superior than the other gender. In Pride and Prejudice, which reveals that a society back in the day was blindly constructed as a male. Women had to live in the culture with the consequences of twisted values. With relation to the powerless woman found in the novel, we can see during the conversation between Mr. and Mrs. Bennet that Mrs. Bennet was under the rule of her husband and that she could not do certain things without him. Mrs. Bennet recognized this social rule when she talked to her husband about visiting Mr. Bingley. She said, “Indeed you must go, for it will be impossible for us to visit him, if you do not” (pg.2). It is seen in the story that Mr. Bennet plays an important role as the head of his family. In addition, he is the one who makes every decision for his family. Elizabeth was also controlled by Mr. Bennet, her father. One example of this is when Mrs. Bennet asked Lizzy to marry Mr. Collins, she objected to Mr. Bennet. If Mr. Bennet had told Lizzy to marry Collins, she wouldn’t have had a choice. Mrs. Bennet also thought that Elizabeth would change her mind after her father had urged her to marry Mr. Collins, although she did not. This shows us how men were still seen as those who gave orders/commands, while the women obeyed them. The only way women could rise in social status was to get married to a wealthy man even she didn’t love him that was the only way because most young women didn’t get an inheritance. Examples of this is the two oldest Bennet sisters, Jane and Elizabeth. Jane on the other fell in love right away with Mr. Bingley and they both showed mutual feelings towards each other. While Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy took them a while to fall in love. “Although her beliefs and perceptions of others may have changed throughout the novel, one of Elizabeth’s unaltered standards is her desire to not marry simply to obtain greater social or material affluence” (Haydar, pg.41). Both sisters both married men of higher social class then they were born in. In comparison with young women already in a higher social status, they desired to marry a man with the same higher social status or more. An example of this is Miss Bingley who wanted to marry Mr. Darcy. Some thoughts people have today in society is “Men are tough; women are in touch with their feelings. Men are providers; women are nurturers. Men should punch back when provoked; women should be physically attractive” (Miller).

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The only thing women were good for was for marrying and taking care of the house, children, and husband. The men were the ones who had the voice in the family and was the provider. Today, women can also be the provider in the house and go and do any work they would like to do. “While Austen flips this truth to provide humor in her narrative, she simultaneously sets the tone for the entire novel and tips readers off to her proposition that marriage is a type of career for the women in her society” (‘Hall). Young women today have many options unlike young women in Austen’s book. The many options today would be getting married to whoever they want, going to college, follow any career path they want, and even living by themselves without society thinking wrong of them. Contrasting this with the women in Pride and Prejudice, they didn’t have the advantages women have today. So, women back in the day didn’t get to get higher education, and one quote from the book that shows us how men thought of women is Darcy where he said that a commendable woman will improve “her mind by extensive reading.” It is amazing to see women as lawyers and doctors today but society in Pride and Prejudice could not portray of a young woman to enter a career like medicine or law. The only purpose of young women in life was to find a husband and get married, which is seen in the traditions of society back then. Some examples of this in the novel Pride and Prejudice is when Mrs. Bennet wanted Elizabeth to marry her cousin Mr. Collins. It didn’t matter if Elizabeth didn’t love Mr. Collins, he was to inherit the Long bourn estate and that is all that mattered. Another example is when Charlotte Lucas was the one who ended up with Mr. Collins. Charlotte didn’t do it for love but because he offered her a comfortable home to live in. “In Austen’s day, the only road for mid-class lady’s happy life was to marry well. The wrong choice of mate could spell social and financial disaster.” (Gao, pg.1) Moving on to the male roles in Pride and Prejudice, Austen used Mr. Bennet, Mr. Collins, Mr. Wickham, and Mr. Darcy to show what the ideal man was in society, strong and independent. The male characters are not what the reader thought of them at first in Pride and Prejudice. They developed and changed throughout the story. One good thing that Mr. Bennet has that we see in today’s society is that he believed in a loving marriage while his wife did not. In society back then he challenges what an ideal man was back then because he wasn’t doing the responsibilities of a father. Next up is Mr. Collin who is vain and has a foolish attitude. When Mr. Bennet dies, he will be the one to inherit his property. He didn’t care about love or about anybody except himself. We can see this in the novel when he proposed to Elizabeth, after three days of getting rejected he ended up proposing to Charlotte. Moving on to Mr. Wickham, his physical was strong but he lacked independence because he always had to rely on someone. Wickham was very handsome and strong, but he had inner flaws. He is an ideal man at first seeming like a prince charming but that changes when the only thing he wants is to benefit off of a wealthy woman. Finally, Mr. Darcy, he is an ideal man because unlike Mr. Wickham he does have an independent attitude. Mr. Darcy starts off as a character that no one likes but he changes at the end when he learns that he doesn’t know everything and that he needs others. “Though Darcy is a gentleman by birth, his masculinity is complicated by the lack of ease required to develop the manners and conduct that will recommend him to others” (Alvarez).

Essentially, Austen shows us how equality for men and women in this era was non-existent. It shows us how women were expected to get married to a wealthy man without being in love. Women couldn’t provide for themselves, so they had to look for a wealthy man to do so. Austen showed how life for women was unfair for them. Pride and Prejudice shows how society has changed and how women from today are so lucky to have the same rights as men. Although men are still viewed as powerful and independent, in today’s society, they are no longer considered superior to women. Women today are no longer expected to stay home and take care of their children, men can do that too now. Women now have independence and freedom. Women today should be grateful of how much independence and freedom they have compared to women back then. Not only has women roles changed but also men roles. Now a days you see men who stay at home cleaning the house and taking care of their children while the women is the one working.  


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