Pride and Prejudice Values, Letters to Alice Values
Tegan explains about Pride and Prejudice Values, Letters to Alice Values
Values of the Regency or Romantic in Pride and Prejudice
- Rigid class structure: stability and maintaining the status quo was important during this period. This is seen in the decisions Darcy and Bingley make about who they can marry and in Lady Catherine’s belief that she has the right to interfere in Darcy’s affairs.
- Social manners maintained class distinctions and prevented one from speaking freely. Who could speak first at a dinner table, when to use the oyster fork, or what part of a lady’s hand you were permitted to touch were all determined by social rules
- This is seen in titles such as Mr or Miss, bowing and the expression of emotion via letters.
- Upper class women were expected to marry for money and prestige, not for love. They would be coached in whom they could accept or reject by their families.
- They would learn music or art as a means of self-betterment so they could attract a husband.
- They were not permitted to own or inherit land, so if their husband died, their home would go to the next male relative who would (hopefully) give them an allowance and a small cottage to live in.
- In short, women were ornaments with no economic independence and little power.
- The characterisation of Elizabeth seems an exception to this: she marries Darcy for love and seems independent. But Elizabeth can only obtain power or respect by emulating men – she often ridicules or rejects the traditional feminine pursuits.
- Elizabeth also idolises her father, even though he is out of touch with reality and does little to protect or help his daughters’ economic futures, while her mother is trying to make sure they are provided for.
- The 80s was the consumerist. The stock market was glamourised. Fast food chains boomed. Corporate and government institutions were rife with corruption and sexual harassment.
- Arcade games, video games and computers became a major industry.
- Pop music, music videos, keyboard synthesisers and drum machines were invented. It was the era of the DJ.
- Fashion included: perms, shoulder pads, leggings, leg warmers, hair gel, multiple bangles and plastic jewellery. The late 80s saw the rise of the punk and goth looks.
Second Wave Feminism
- Feminists believe that society is a patriarchy that oppresses women and other minorities.
- Feminists want to fix the underlying causes of these problems such as stereotyping, language that is biased towards men, equality in the workplace and in the home.
- The first wave of feminism in the 60s Civil Rights movement dealt mostly with legal issues. The second wave in the 80s dealt with social issues such as family life, child care and workplace equality.
80s Values in Letters to Alice
- How patriarchal society affects women is examined through 3 types of female characters: independent Weldon, her seemingly-dominated sister, and the young independent and sexually-free Alice. Weldon studies their choices and options, contrasting these with women from Austen’s time.
- The advent of Critical Theory in 80s literature studies was the re-examination of classic texts for the way they excluded minority points of view. It is an analytical and fact-driven evaluation.
- A feminist reading is one that analyses how genders are portrayed. Weldon’s essays are quite sympathetic to Austen for feminist readings.
- The difficulties that a woman faces breaking into the literary industry are reflective of the difficulty women face in all industries, the idea of the glass ceiling – that men are hired and promoted preferentially to women.
- Weldon’s view is cynical and is based on her own experiences of the industry.
- The notion of individualist punk counterculture is a late-eighties phenomenon embodied in Alice – who has green hair and piercings. This shows differing notions of beauty and also what is acceptable presentation from a young girl.
- The mentor relationship between Alice and Fey shows Fey’s belief that she needs to prepare Alice for a hostile, patriarchal world. However, Alice is free to accept or reject the advice and is able to forge her own way in the world, showing that young women are not always victims.