Elizabeth Bennet Pride And Prejudice Dbq Analysis

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The Regency Period during the early 19th century was characterized by tradition and strict social standards; however the Age of Enlightenment inspired the use of reason and deeper thinking, which challenged these standards. Enlightenment figures “questioned traditional authority and embraced the notion that humanity could be improved through rational change” (, therefore providing the impetus for others to diverge from the flow of society. In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet demonstrates these qualities and stands out from those around her. Dissatisfied with societal standards, she learns to love without conforming to the standards of marriage and the belief that a “women is especially constituted to please man”…show more content…
During the Regency Period, many women believed that “they must always be protected, guarded from care, and all the rough toils that dignify the mind,” thus wasting “life away the prey of discontent” (Policelli Document 4). Although women were capable of more, their fear kept them from standing up to the standards of the time; however Elizabeth strays from the beliefs that most women had of themselves. While talking with Lady Catherine, a women of high status, Elizabeth gives a series of curt responses to answer her questions. Lady Catherine is “quite astonished at not receiving a direct answer and Elizabeth suspects herself to be the first creature who had ever dared to trifle with so much dignified impertinence” (Austen 162). Standing up to a figure of higher status was unheard of during Elizabeth’s time, however she does this with confidence, demonstrating her tendency to diverge from societal norms. Elizabeth also stands up to Mr. Collins’, rejecting his marriage proposal. He persists, saying, “I know it to be the established custom of your sex to reject a man on the first application” (Austen 106). Assuming that Elizabeth is like every other women, he is convinced that she is playing hard to get. Elizabeth defends herself, not wanting to be considered “an elegant female intending to plague” him, but as a “rational creature speaking the truth…show more content…
Those closest to her focus on the status of the man, such as her best friend Charlotte who accepts Mr. Collins “solely from the pure and disinterested desire of an establishment” (Austen 120). Elizabeth, however, looks at a person’s demeanor and actions as well. Dissatisfied with society and Charlotte's irrational decisions, she confesses, “the more I see of the world, the more I am dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of [...] the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of either merit or sense” (Austen 133). Elizabeth is significantly more wary about marriage than Charlotte and her sisters, and therefore she is unwilling to accept a proposal simply because it is expected of a women. Upon first meeting Darcy, she judges him to be arrogant and conceited. In response to his first proposal she tells him, “you could not have made me the offer of your hand in any possible way that would have tempted me to accept it” (Austen 188). Elizabeth overlooks any aspect of his high status and is not afraid to refuse him outright because of his character. Later in the book, Darcy is able to explain to Elizabeth that his intentions were favorable, and only then does she start to think of him as “the man who, in disposition and talents, would most suit her” (Austen 295). Once again, she does not mention his wealth or status and concentrates on the
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