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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Evolution of Novel

Novel started in the late 17th and early 18th century. Before 18th century, novel does not exist. The fact is that novel is actually written for “Middle class”. Middle class people did not understand the language of poetry therefore, novel as another medium or genre started only for middle class section, because this particular section was less educated in compare to the upper section.

Samuel Richardson first explore the social and domestic life through his novel “Pamela”, which is based on female chastity. Pamela became the most preferred work by church because it gives a religious message. His another work ‘Clarissa: The History of Young Lady’ (1748) was renown novel. Richardson was not a professional writer, so he used very easy and simple language to make people understand.

In response to Pamela’Henry Fielding wrote a novel called ‘Joseph Andreus’ which is also based on male chastity.

However, critics were not influenced by the theme of novel because according to them novel is waste of time, they also said that the novel written during this particular period is not productive, and most importantly it does not contribute to the country’s development.

Therefore, the rise of the novel as an important literary genre is actually linked with the growth and understanding of Middle Class in England.

Writers who contributed with different genre of novel

  • Early English Novelist of 18th century Danial Defoe wrote first realistic novel
  • Samuel Richardson wrote first Burgeois sentimental novel
  • Laurence Sterne wrote 1st Experimental novel
  • Henry Fielding wrote 1st comic novel

Therefore, 18th century novel highlighted with “Realism and individual consciousness”.

Don Quixote (1612) is a novel. It is a mixture of fantasy and reality, which really  influences the other novelist. Don Quixote keep the foundation of English novel.

All the writers of this period play huge role to enhance novel and influence the novelist.

Difference types of novel

  • ‘Robinson crusoe’ by Daniel Defoe (1719) was Realist novel.
  • ‘Pamela’ by Richardson (1740) was an Epistolary novel.
  • ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ by swift (1726) was Philosophic/satire.
  • ‘Tom Jones’ by  Henry Fielding was epic/ comic novel.
  • ‘Tristram Shandy’ by Stern (1759) was experimental novel.

Robinson Crusoe and Pamela were Buildungsroman novel,

Epistolary means the novel which is written is a form a letter.

Who is the father of English literature novel?

Henry Fielding is supposed to be the father of English novel.

Who started the trend of writing novel?

Daniel Defoe and Moll Flanders started the trend of writing of novel.

19th century Novelist

  • Charles Dickens novelist of (Great Expectations)
  • George Eliot (Middlemarch)
  • George Meredith (The Egoist)
  • Henry James (The Turn of the Screw)

Thomas Hardy was the novelist of late 19th century.

20th century Novelist

  • James Joyce (Ulysses)
  • Virginia Wolf (A Room of One’s Own)
  • Dorothy Richardson (Pilgrimage)
  • George Orwell (Animal Farm)
  • E.M Forster (The Passage to India)

Who was the most renown novelist of all time?

Sir Walter Scott was not only successful but popular novelist, apart from him Jane Austen, George Orwell, Henry Fielding James Joyce etc.

Jane Austen was one of the most popular novelist, because of her subject which was majorly based on middle class women of English society.