The power of women's words by Celine DePoitiers

2 min read

The power of women's words by Celine DePoitiers

Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice: an ironic, deep and sometimes cynical portrait of an appearance-centered and profoundly patriarchal society.

For many young ladies, Jane Austen’s novels - with the delightful regency dresses and dances - are the loyal companions of that complex and hard transition between light-hearted youth and conscious adulthood.

Lately, there have been many who have branded female authors like Austen and Alcott, anti-feminist.

But is romantic fiction being taken out of context? Because this is what they are: romances, not essays or history books. Are Pride and Prejudice, Little Women, Emma, Sense and Sensibility, and so many more, most likely ending up being judged by modern-day standards?

 

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Shop Jane Austen

 

It would seem entirely inappropriate that a sweet and innocent escape from reality, written two centuries ago, is now lightly judged and condemned following cultural revolutions and social standards that didn’t exist at the time.

Nothing can be judged objectively if we abstract it from its time and context.

Jane Austen was a brave woman. She found the strength and courage, with a subtle irony and a marked cynicism, to tell on a profoundly patriarchal society, obsessed with social rank and income.

Reading the first words of Pride and Prejudice, for example, it can be easily concluded that just by writing: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Austen was actually expressing a strong judgement about the society of the time.

Women like Jane Austen, in her own small way, were not so different from the suffragettes, or modern feminists. They were struggling to form their own opinion and to find just a tiny bit of emancipation that was bursting from their souls, in a society where women’s only purpose was to make a good marriage, play an instrument, make beautiful embroideries and give birth to children, without having a proper chance to speak out for themselves.

Austen, Alcott, the Bronte sisters, with their intelligence and wit, were so much more than beautiful and flashy ornaments, made to be shown off on the arm of men that were incapable of realising their real worth.

With the only tool they had available, they fought against the cultural dictats, and created a literary movement that still influences literature today. Their impact on women, men and children of all ages, is as profound today as it ever was.

 

Written by Celine DePoitiers, @celine.depoitiers



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