2008 Student Research Conference:
21st Annual Student Research Conference

Society and Self-Actualization in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice
Molly L. McKay
Dr. Royce Kallerud, Faculty Mentor

Readers of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice have long admired Elizabeth Bennet's growth from childish prejudice to mature self-awareness, but many have debated the role that her social environment plays in this transformation. This environment, dictated by unusually strict conventions, is typically seen as a force that smothers Elizabeth's individuality. Yet it is through these conventions that Elizabeth comes to understand that her quick wit and uncompromising judgments are often unfair. This paper explores the relationship between Elizabeth's journey and the society that creates the climactic moment in which she understands and recognizes her own flaws. Ultimately, it is the influence of this society that catalyzes Elizabeth's transformation from a woman blinded by unduly harsh prejudice to one with an open mind by fostering in a Elizabeth a healthy sense of embarrassment at her actions. In this sense, it is Elizabeth's society that, instead of confining her, sets her free.

Keywords: Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, society


Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 33-5
Location: OP 2121
Time: 2:15

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