In traditional literary creations, females are always the characters that been described or been peeped at. They are either an “angle” or a “devil” in male works. Even British female writers in late 18th century write their works in the eyes of the masculine society to exam female characters, narrowing their life down to a certain field that would interest males or been accepted by men. However, Jane Austen, the author of a famous novel Pride and Prejudice, breaks worldly regulations and pushes the females at disadvantageous position into people’s view. In Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen rationally presents her ideas of woman rights, at the same time, creates various varieties of women characters, highlighting the self-respect and the self-sufficiency of the heroines who are fighting for justice, liberty and their own happiness.
Key Words: Jane Austen; Pride and Prejudice; female characters
Chapter 1: Introduction
1.1 The Impact of the Women’s Liberation Movement
The Women’s Liberation Movement is the social struggle which aims to eliminate forms of oppression based on gender and to gain for women equal economic and social status and right to determine their own lives as are enjoyed by men. The Women’s Liberation Movement has lasted for over 200 years. It is the women’s movement that has brought feminism into being. In general, feminism is a “doctrine that advocates or demands for women the same rights granted men, as in political and economic status”.
1.2 The Significance of Studying Feminism
It is the Women’s Liberation Movement, part of the other movements of our time for a fully human life, that makes it possible for women to gain the same rights and chances as men. The expansion of feminism has been from the easy to the difficult, from margins to the center, from west to the world, from politics to economics, society and culture, from the white to the colored people, from middle and upper classes to all circles. Such changes are inspiring.
Now the study of feminism is stepping into a new stage. It seems that unless uniting men, women will not gain the real equality and emancipation. And feminism has been developing from a theory to a subject in principal culture. It breaks the convention that human civilization is interpreted only by men, or according to male experience. It provides the new angle and methods for the study of nature, humanities and social sciences. In 21st century, feminism will surely assume a more important role.
Chapter 2: Jane Austen’s Social Background
Jane Austen, the feminist leader Mary Wollstonecraft’s contemporary, the first great woman writer in English literature, represents that women are playing an increasingly important part in the literary field.
2.1 Jane Austen’s Family and Education
As the 7th of eight children, and 2nd of two girls, Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775, in thevillageofSteventon,Hampshire,England. Mr. Austen, the Reverend George Austen, was an Anglican priest, who, despite of being orphaned as a young boy, had graduated fromSt. John’sCollege,Oxford. Jane’s mother, Cassandra Leigh Austen, was of higher social standing than George Austen, and only his education and prestige as a clergyman made the courtship possible. The Austen’s 1st home was the rectory of St. Nicolas’s Church in Seventon. The reverend’s income was meager for a family of ten, but the Austens’ prestige in the village was higher than income alone could dictate, and they lived comfortably. The family was close and the children especially dear to one another.
Jane Austen’s only sister, Cassandra Elizabeth, was two years older than her and apparently always the central personage in her