Jane Austen’s“Pride and Prejudice” used the two words as an embodiment in theway of relationships, as it is seen in both Darcy and Elizabethrespectively. The author used the characters as the perfect oppositesince in the end both the characters had to give up on theirprejudices, which prevented them from acknowledging how perfectlywell they suit each other. The plot basically revolves aroundundermining the characters mutual prejudices. Pride, on the otherhand, narrows down a person’s vision and causes ignorance onother’s mortals. Prejudice blurs the vision and gives falseperceptions about other characters. Elizabeth’s prejudice andDarcy’s pride offers a way of understanding each other, whilekeeping them away. It is only when Elizabeth turns out to be moreaccepting and Darcy more humble is when they started relating well toone another (Austen 13). From this perspective, the paper attempts todescribe the values shown by the author. In addition, it answers thequestions: which set of qualities make up an ideal man and woman? Howit differs from the overall gender ideals in the world, today, andwhat the author think about the ideals of contemporary America.
To begin with,the author highlights a number of values in the novel “Pride andPrejudice”. There is an upward social status for Elizabeth betweenher and Mr. Darcy upon her marriage. She succeeded to move out of themiddle class background into landed gentry. She does not, however,fall for Mr. Darcy solely for his money. As a matter of fact, it isMr. Darcy’s attitude, wealth, arrogance that pushed her away whenthey met for the first time, and thus the value of money appears hereas the main value. Also, it is the shallow perception and values ofmoney and its conceit, which is the author’s target. The lack ofhonesty and genuine heartfelt love based on Lydia’s case is what isconsidered lost since she destroyed what is honest and good. Inaddition, the value of marriage is observed through the long termrelationship of the Bennetts. It is therefore easy to say that thevalues presented by Jane Austen in her work are love, which isregarded as a commitment between the souls, honesty, integrity, andthe mind’s firmness.
Secondly, Jane’s“Pride and Prejudice” is about matters of love, family life andhonesty in Britain during the 18th century. The author’sopening sentence: “It is genuinely and universally accepted that aman in possession of wealth must have a wife,” draws perceptions ofan ideal man. Qualities that make up an ideal man revolve aroundmarriage and fundamentally social value of the Regency England(Folsom 51). The author gave the perception of a wealthy and wellconnected man, for example, as an ideal for the eager Bennett girls.Through the novel, Mr. Collins first proposes to Elizabeth, inAusten’s words, she says he is “a man of a mixture ofobsequiousness and pride, humility and self-importance” (Austen66). The author reveals that material possession coupled with thetrue virtues of a man, are what make up an ideal man however, sheshowed that not only material wealth could win a woman’s hand inmarriage as it is shown by Mr. Collins rejection by Elizabeth. It isElizabeth, actually Jane Austen that insisted that love alone is thefundamental basis of an ideal man.
On the otherhand, an ideal woman, according to Austen, must act in a way to berespected, deem accomplished, and accepted. An ideal woman must be arepresentative of the current times. During the 18thcentury, she noted that “a woman must be well acquitted with music,knows how to sing, dance, draw, and be familiar with all languages”(Austen 74). And “she must possess something unique in her hair,the way she walks, her expressions and dressing.” With thecharacters such as Miss Bingley, the author created fondness forthose women in the accomplished generation in the reader’s mind.This allowed the reader to have the perception of an ideal woman asthose that have feminist notions (Austen 76). The ideal woman,therefore, would be termed as the one with intelligence, a freespirited character as opposed to the materialistic, backstabbing, andoverdramatic one.
The genderideals that exists in today’s contemporary world differs great tothe ones revealed by Austen during the 18th century.First, an ideal man in today’s world is ambitious, corky, andconfident. He is successful, whether in the corporate world orrunning his own business, a hard worker, self-driven, and possesses acompetitive nature. Again, masculinity in men has been created intoday’s world has protectors and providers. Again, the men earnmore than women. On the other and, ideal women in today’s world areno longer concerned with marriage and getting marriage, and if thatis the case, then they are getting married at an advanced age. Thewomen in today’s world are more conscious of material things ascompared to Austen’s portrayal of the 18th centurywoman.
Jane Austenthought of ideals that characterized the contemporary America. Sheregarded it having equal opportunities for both men and women inacquiring good education and having similar jobs. She says thatmodern America does not recognize marriage anymore as the only way ofgetting and staying together. She noted that marriage, due toeconomic needs, have decreased rapidly. According to Folsom (87), theidea of “money determines everything” is now rooted in the mindsof the American society (Folsom 88), and the American’s societyviews and values marriage to be associated with social and propertystatus.
Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. Chandni Chowk, Delhi:Global Media, 2007. Internet resource.
Folsom, Marcia M. C. Approaches to Teaching Austen`s Pride andPrejudice. New York: Modern Language Association of America,1993. Print.