Strong Women, Strong Values. Refers to Elisabeth in Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" and Marian in Margaret Atwood's "The Edible Woman "

Essay by Anonymous UserHigh School, 12th gradeA+, December 1996

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Throughout history, society has played an important role in forming the value and attitudes of the population. Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and Margaret Atwood's The Edible Woman are two novels which exemplify the negative effects of society's influence. Both Elizabeth Bennet and Marian McAlpin are strong women who rebel against society's influences in their lives. They refuse to accept the pre-set roles and identities handed to them. Both women realize that the individual's needs are not necessarily the same as what society imposes on them; they rebel against this very society in order to gain the independence necessary to discover what they want from life.

Society in the early 19th century world of Pride and Prejudice is represented through Mrs. Bennet and those like her, who are "of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper" (Austen 53). From the beginning of the novel, society prominently displays its views on marriage.

When Mr. Bingly moves to town, Mrs. Bennet immediately entreats her husband to go introduce himself. Mrs. Bennet describes Bingly as "a single man of large fortune; four or five thousand a year. What a fine thing for our girls!" (51). Bingly is immediately acceptable due to his money and connections, and Mrs. Bennet is already dreaming that one of her children will marry him. In fact, "the business of her life was to get her daughters married" (53). One of Elizabeth's close friends, Charlotte Lucas, feels "happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance" (69). She feels that marriage is a vehicle to gain wealth and connections, a view which has obviously been pushed upon her by society. Elizabeth refuses to accept this view. She feels marriage is for love, not money, and finds it a "fantastic nightmare" that "economic and social institutions have such power over...