GENDER ROLES AND CLASS DISCRIMINATION IN JANE AUSTEN’S PRIDE AND PREJUDICE

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Gender issues and class discrimination have always been one of the most general subjects of literature that is very common throughout the history. However its name changes over the centuries such as Feudalism seen before the Renaissance and aristocracy. Even today, class discrimination can be observed and people compare the incomes of others. As a result of this issue, another problem which is gender roles happens. On the contrary to traditional beliefs which are based on the idea that women should rise children and serve to their husband, women gain a new statue with an idea which emerges in recent years. Thus, women increase their family statue by marrying a wealthy man. English idea of family and place of female are converted, and British culture concentrates on gathering wealth within the family in the late 18th century. (Sheehan 1) Although it is considered as a love story, social issues such as class discrimination and gender roles have been reflected through the novel. This essay will discuss gender roles and class discrimination in Pride and Prejudice.


The novel reflects period’s wealthy men and middle class women’s attitudes to marriage. During the late of 18th century, it is believed that women should be married at early age. Because unmarried women are threatened as second class citizens who could not have own property. As they are deprived of wealthy and power, women are dependent on men. Therefore marriage is accepted as a kind of escape for middle class girls. Similarly, main concern of woman characters in the novel is reflected as social statues. For instance, Charlotte who does not come from wealthy family accepts Collins propose like woman of her time by choosing most suitable candidate to marry. As she does not have any security or source of money, this marriage is a way to secure her life. In this respect, the author shows that wealthy life conditions are required for a permanent marriage. As Urgan mentions ‘’Although Elizabeth criticizes Charlotte’s marriage with Collins to escape from poverty, Elizabeth demonstrates her aspect to marriage by saying that ‘it was wrong to marry one for money, but it was silly to marry without it.’ ‘’ (893) While this kind of marriages are an obligation for poor ones, there is another option for wealthy women.


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