Chapter : 5. Novels, Society & History
The New Women
(d) The New Women :
The most exciting element of the novel was the involvement of women. the eighteenth century saw the middle classes become more prosperous. Women got more leisure to read as well as write novels. And novels began exploring the world of women – their emotions and identities, their experiences and problems.
(i) The novels of Jane Austen for e.g. Pride and Prejudice gives us a glimpse of the world of women in general rural society in early-nineteenth-century Britain. They make us think about a society which encouraged women to look for 'good' marriages and fine wealthy or propertied husbands.
(ii) Women novelists did not simply popularise the domestic role of women. Often their novels dealt with women who broke established norms of society before adjusting to them. In Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre", published in 1874, young Jane is shown as independent and assertive. While girls of her age were expected to be quiet and well behaved, Jane at the age often protests against the hypocrisy of her elders with starting bluntness.
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