Jane Austen’s sassy take on gender stereotypes.


Most women love Jane Austen. Even the most non-bookish of them will be familiar with the movie adaptations of her classics. Unfortunately, some men dismiss her work as trivial ‘chick-lit’, without noticing that everything she wrote was a sharp satire on society. The first time I read ‘Pride and Prejudice’, I was actually disappointed because I’d been told to expect the greatest love story in literature. (There is practically no romantic bullshit in the novel.) Later, I began to enjoy the novel for its dry wit and sarcasm. In her own words,

“It is only a novel… or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language.

Also, I’d advise anyone who claims not to understand women, to start reading her novels. Austen particularly enjoyed poking fun at some of the stereotypes about women (and men).

  • When a woman says ‘no’, she usually means ‘yes’. The funniest scene in ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is the one where Mr Collins proposes to Elizabeth and refuses to accept her rejection. In the end, she tells her father to inform him that she really meant what she said.

“I do assure you, Sir, that I have no pretension whatever of that kind of elegance which consists in tormenting a respectable man. I would rather be paid the compliment of being believed sincere. I thank you again and again for the honour you have done me in your proposals, but to accept them is absolutely impossible. My feelings in every respect forbid it. Can I speak plainer? Do not consider me now as an elegant female intending to plague you, but as a rational creature speaking the truth from her heart.”

  • Women are delicate flowers who can’t handle stressful situations without fainting or having hysterics.

“I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.”

  • Women are as fickle as the weather.

“I do not think I ever opened a book in my life which had not something to say upon woman’s inconstancy. Songs and proverbs, all talk of woman’s fickleness. But perhaps you will say, these were all written by men.”

“Perhaps I shall. Yes, yes, if you please, no reference to examples in books. Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything.”

  • Men are only attracted to dumb women. The sarcasm is strong in this one-

 “A woman especially, if she should have the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can.”

And this –

“In justice to men, though to the larger and more trifling part of the sex, imbecility in females is a great enhancement of their personal charms, there is a portion of them too reasonable and too well informed themselves to desire anything more in woman than ignorance.”

  • It is highly improper for a woman to pursue a man she’s interested in.

“No young lady can be justified in falling in love before the gentleman’s love is declared, it must be very improper that a young lady should dream of a gentleman before the gentleman is first known to have dreamt of her.”

  • All women are mean towards other women.

“I always take the part of my own sex. I do indeed. I give you notice– You will find me a formidable antagonist on that point. I always stand up for women.”

  • Men do not read novels; they stick to books on serious subjects.

“But you never read novels, I dare say?”

“Why not?”

“Because they are not clever enough for you — gentlemen read better books.”

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”

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