Changing Of The Times

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 11th grade February 2008

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"Madness, marriage, or death" are portrayed as the only options available to female characters in most works of literature. These recurring themes are the result of a long history of men being held in more important and flexible roles than women. In the past women were only allowed to become housewives and were expected to take care of their husbands - expectations that are mirrored in books such as Pride and Prejudice and Little Women. These two classics which include this same theme remain bestsellers - showing that though women have risen to a new level, they still acknowledge their roots. Whether women find themselves in Jo March or Elizabeth Bennet, they must be content to read about a happily-ever-after marriage instead of independence and self-sufficiency. Though the time periods of works do play an important role in establishing their characteristics, women of today can still find a way to relate to them.

Marriage is the only option available to the Bennet sisters. Their mother has realized this and is obsessed with searching for decent husbands for them. Instead of instilling in her daughters a sense of self-satisfaction, Mrs. Bennet's one goal is to make a successful match. The only real characteristics of Elizabeth and Jane that are described are those that would make them good wives and homemakers. "Darcy had never been so bewitched by any woman as he was by her" (Austen 38). Elizabeth has a clever wit, but even this trait is only described because it makes her a perfect match for Darcy.

Even though Elizabeth Bennet could have furthered her education through independent study, no real jobs are available to her so it would be pointless for her to even try it. She has the intelligence to enter any career and if she was a character...