Comparison with Pride and Prejudice and Letters to Alice

450 Words2 Pages
Both Jane Austen and Fay Weldon write against the values of their own contexts. Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice, and Weldon’s epistolary text Letters to Alice on First Reading Jane Austen symbolize the opposing values each had to her own society, and express similar opinions on the topic of education for women; similarly each writes in a style that undermines her own form in the hopes of morally educating readers. These connections between the two works highlight the values and contexts of each text, as well as exposing the tension between each author’s personal values and those of their society. Education for Georgian women was generally limited to the art of accomplishments that were undertaken in order to better attract a husband. Austen, however, is at tension with her society’s values of education. In Pride and Prejudice, she expresses her disdain for the tradition of accomplishments when Caroline Bingley’s enthusiasm for Mr. Darcy’s ideal list of accomplishments is met with ironic authorial intrusion: “Oh! certainly,” cried [Mr. Darcy’s] faithful assistant, ‘no one can be really esteemed accomplished, who does not greatly surpass what is usually met with.’” Caroline Bingley then proceeds to list an extensive range of arts and wiles that a woman of the era ‘must’ possess to be accomplished. The ideas communicated by Miss Bingley are familiar to the society of the time, and are acceptable values’ regarding the expectations of women, but Austen’s humorous interjection portrays Miss Bingley as overeager and flattering. Miss Bingley is already an established unlikeable character: therefore, any opinions she expresses are treated with equal dislike. Austen’s respect for accomplishments is further diminished when supposedly ‘accomplished’ Miss Bingley does not marry Mr. Darcy, but unorthodox, independent Elizabeth Bennet does instead. However, the values of
Open Document