Pride and Prejudice. A romantic satire in which many women find sanctuary (or used to anyway). I can safely say that, among these days, I feel that feminism has been achieved. I believe this book had quite the effect on that. Being a male myself, I actually did not feel feminism to be an important concept early on. I figured that, in the earliest days, women were actually too fragile to be put to work and only the task of birthing and raising children would be sufficient. As time went on, women began to adapt and eventually lost their external fragility, making them capable of harder work. At that time, however, men wished to prove their dominance. Not over females, but over other men. It was very “manlike” to be able to control one’s own household, which included the need to subdue their wives. Men knew entirely that women were capable, but did not see the need for them to work. Men had been working successfully for many generations, and were not as susceptible to change.
In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth is one such woman who attempts to obtain her status through her own will and power, rather than through her spouse’s wealth. This is shown as she refuses many proposals by wealthy men, including Mr. Darcy, who is indubitably the most prosperous man in the book. Elizabeth, to me, is just like all the other women. The only difference is that Elizabeth runs away with her passions, rather than chaining them up and forcing them to follow the conventions decreed by society. She didn’t care if she would get dirty on her visit to her sick sister. She didn’t care what others would say about her. She openly defied the role a woman should take in the presence of a man. This caused a disruptive effect on Mr. Darcy, whose pride caused him to look down on his social inferiors. This effect was enough for Mr. Darcy to attempt to alter his outlook slightly, enough to fall in love with Elizabeth.
Mr. Darcy, seemingly the antagonist of the novel, was unique between his colleagues. Not only did he have a substantial amount of wealth, but also pride. It was this pride that made him seem the unfavorable acquaintance. Throughout the novel, we see Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth quarreling, Elizabeth attempting to prove her match, whilst Darcy trying to suffocate her pride. It was through these quarrels that Mr. Darcy began to feel affectionate towards Elizabeth, one he realized that his pride-centered attitude was incorrect. This proves that men, however persistent, can have their ideals and desires manipulated, through another form of persistence. I believe that Jane Austen was trying to make the statement that, those who do not accept change at first must be given incentive and persuasion in order to manipulate them. This is what struck me as the heart of this novel, or at least the heart of the issues Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth had. Mr. Darcy’s incentive was that he believed Elizabeth to be “real” in the sense that she wouldn’t hide her thoughts, emotions, feelings, and would express them by any means necessary. Although most men would not have liked their wives to be that kind of woman, Mr. Darcy had seen too many fake women who were evidently after his prosperity rather than after him.
The biggest factor in Mr. Darcy’s attitude, I believe, was not pride, but rather, bias. The bias that Mr. Darcy held was influenced by the events in the past. It was this bias that also fueled his pride into forcing him to believe in his own superiority. This, I believe, is an accurate representation of yet another excuse men could put forth to prevent women from achieving rights. The men believed that, since the women in the early times may have been unable to fend for themselves, allowing these women would lead to disaster. With Mr. Darcy representing the bias men had, Elizabeth would be a representation of the determination of the women as they continually fought for their rights.
In the past, when feminism was discussed in my presence, I would hear the opinions of two different types of people, men, and women. I have decided to take on the perspective of something different. This is not the perspective of a man, but a human who’s role in life is yet to be decided. Who has yet to be seduced by the charm of safety which society provides. Who has no desire to enslave a women to prove his manhood. This is the perspective of a little boy.