Pride and Prejudice

Some Reflections Upon Jane Austen: Feminist Perspectives in Pride and Prejudice College

“If marriage be such a blessed state, how comes it, may you say, that there are so few happy marriages?” (Astell 2421). Marriage is one of the main themes of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, a key motivator for many of its characters. Set during the Napoleonic Wars (1797–1815), the novel features marriage as a formally unified institution; however, the personal motivations to get married differ greatly. In Some Reflections upon Marriage, predating Austen’s novel by over a hundred years, Mary Astell explores the dysfunctional motivations leading to marriage and the results that may be expected. Applying her views to the marriages in Pride and Prejudice suggests that the ladies in Austen’s novel would have done better to take her advice into consideration; according to Astell, most of the unions are conceived from faulty motivations, and therefore will not provide happiness to their participants. Astell’s feminist perspective on marriage was radical in those times. Nowadays, as a typical happy ending in novels and films alike, marriage “represents in their [feminists’] view submission to a masculine narrative imperative” (Newman 693). Indeed, Karen Newman argues that Pride and Prejudice’s fairy-tale ending does not devalue the...

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