In Pride and Prejudice, the book takes place in an era where gender roles were firm. From the 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 to 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 over men, it is clearly described. A woman in this society must 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, a 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 a fortune. Women were considered weaker back in the day while men were the superior ones and we can see this in Austen’s book. In the present day, men and women are equal and there is no such thing as being superior to the other gender. Pride and Prejudice, which reveals that society back in the day was blindly constructed as a male. Women had to live in a 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 with 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 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. 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 really 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 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.
Essentially, Austen shows us how equality for men and women in this era was non-existent. Pride and Prejudice show how society has changed and how women from today are so lucky to have the same rights as men.