Economic position of women in the novel Pride and Prejudice

Women’s lives in Jane Austen’ novel is considerably useful to understand the circumstances of the women of English society during 18th to 19th century era.

The position of women changed considerably during the enlightenment and not with the concern of liberty and social welfare (Social Position). Therefore, the Economic developments that were behind the rise of capitalism also resulted and restricted women’s rights to own property and to run business, Thus, it was like forcing women out of business.

One of the critics pointing out the women, says that in 1600, two – third of women owned and administered business in London, which was very less in compare to 1800, only less than ten percent remain. In Pre- Industrial Europe which had the ‘family Economy’(Economy of the individual house- hold) as its main unit hence, women contributed substantially to these Economies, providing both agricultural labor and artisans skills and often subordinating housework to this participation, but they could not occupy an equivalent position in the new urban and market Economies.

Education and accomplishment

In Jane Austen’s era, time supposed to be a crucial in the denying of Education to many women as the “Grammar should” which existed only to teach upper-class boys, did not admit girls. The only alternatives for girls are private or boarding schools. Therefore, most of the girls were being taught at home by governesses or masters. They are prohibited to enter either the public schools or universities like Cambridge or Oxford.

This was simply barred women to get any such knowledge or learn classical languages like Greek and Latin. Instead of having proper education, girls were taught needlework, drawing, singing and playing piano as we have witnessed in the novel ‘Pride and Prejudice’. All these abilities were supposed to be an attractive for the girls which might help them to secure a husband.

For instance; in Pride and Prejudice, there are several examples in the novel where the audience have witnessed such scenes, like how Mary since she lacks beauty, is forced to rely on her musical abilities in order to be noticed in society and she has been described “as always impatient for display”. Not only this later, Lady Catherine interrogates Elizabeth about her accomplishments, lectures her on how to improve her piano-playing and makes the extremely dubious assertion that “If I had ever learnt, I should have been a great proficient.

All in all, Jane Austen is the novelist who is known for presenting true picture of women of English society of her time.



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