Elizabeth Bennet Challenges to Patriarchy
Elizabeth Bennet is the second daughter in the bennet family, in both the novel and film of Pride and Predudice she is portrayed as the most intelligent and witty Bennet daughter. It is no doubt a fact that Elizabeth Bennet is one of the most heroic, well-known female characters in English literature. Pride and Predudice was set in Regency England. A time when women were to listen and agree to what men said. A time when touching the opposite sex was to be minimal ans so on.
But Elizabeth Bennet challenged this patriachal setting. She would not let any man intimadate her, and is known for confronting anyone on any rude behaviour. Lizzy knows how to challenge people through her wit and smart retorts instead of getting angry and petty as women of the regency era normally would. She refuses to submit to the low presumptions of her, set by those around her. She would prefer to be single and sacrifice an insecure financial future than to be stuck in a loveless marriage.
She acknowledges her faults and tries to right them rather than deny them.
It is best seen that Elizabeth Bennet would not let any man intimidate her, and makes sure to confront a man for his bad behaviour. In the book (Austen, 1813) Pride and Prejudice when Mr Darcy rushes into the room where Elizabeth sat and immediately began asking about her health. She answered Darcy with cold tact. Darcy follows her surprising response by divulging his (what he thinks is romantic and touching… but in a Mr Darcy way) love to Lizzy. “In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” Lizzy eventually speaks and acclaims she can not accept, as she felt nothing for “such a man” and she then point out that herself and Darcy seldom, if ever could speak well to each other. This is something not many other women would even think of doing. Lizzy did think before she said what she said and realised he would be upset, and she felt bad, but she needed to confront “the elephant in the room”. In the film however this scene is conveyed very differently. It is done very effectively, instead of Darcy’s sudden enterace into the room, Darcy and Lizzy are seen out in the rain, under a gazebo. Both the characters are soaked. The rain is a clear symbol of the instability of withs about to unfold, as well as the natural, dull lighting is an icon of sorrow. Lizzy’s facial expressions also become very effective and show the emotions she truly feels.
As Lizzy does in the novel (Austen, 1813, pp. 186-188) addressing the faults within her relationship with Darcy, she does to in the film. She says what is needed to be said with extreme expression on her face, adding emphasis to how she feels. This is definitely not the way women would convey their disagreement with a man.
Elizabeth is very good at keeping a clear head when faced with a challenging conversation. This is seen best in the novel (Austen, 1813, pp. 336-339) when Lady Catherine De Bourgh comes and requests to speak with Lizzy outside, where she suggests there is a rumour of Lizzy and Darcy getting engaged. Lizzy manages to keep a calm mind in response. And says she in short that she and Darcy have nothing going, and even if they did she asks why she could not accept. She then adds that even if promises to not accept Darcy’s hand, that it wouldn’t make Darcy and Miss De Bourgh any more probable. As they are not in love and love should be a choice, not forced from birth.
In the film this same situation is portrayed in a slightly different way. Lady Catherine force it upon Lizzy to play the piano for her, even though Lizzy refuses, Lady Catherine will not accept no for an answer. Elizabeth give the instrument her best efforts but cannot play as well as Darcy’s younger sister. Lady Catherine uses Lizzy’s “poor” piano skills to try make Elizabeth look inferior to herself and the Darcy family. But Lizzy does not let the incident get to her and carries on with living up to her personal values.
The most prominent way in which Lizzy challenges patriarch in both the novel and the film is when she refuses the proposal she receives from Mr Collins, whom will receive her father’s estate when he passes away. Mr Collins expect Lizzy to be overjoyed by his proposal, as Elizabeth would get to stay home and have a decent life ahead. But instead she witfully declines/ rejects the proposal. The only minor difference between the novel and the film in this scene is how Collins is described. In the novel he is portrayed as apparently opposite to in the film. In the film he is a petite, pathetic little man with almost zero confidence. In many ways this could be a reason for it to be so simple for Lizzy to reject his proposal with her wittiness and sarcastic remarks.
In conclusion Elizabeth Bennet successfully challenges patriarchy both in the film and novel is Pride and Prejudice. Because she keeps to what she believes in, even if it may have negative effects on her life of her own or that of her family’s. in the end she is lucky to come out successful and have learnt that some of what she thinks and says should not be. She will always stick to her values even if its against that of patriarchy.
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