Pride and Prejudice
Women and Femininity Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
"It will be no use to us, if twenty such should come, since you will not visit them." (1.32)
Right away, we learn how powerless women are: there's literally no respectable way for the Bennet girls to meet Bingley unless their dad makes the first move.
[Miss Bingley:] "Oh! certainly," cried his faithful assistant, "no [woman] can be really esteemed accomplished who does not greatly surpass what is usually met with. A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half-deserved."
Here's a good look at some of the expectations for upper class women: music, singing, drawing, a nice voice, and a graceful walk. Notice anything missing? Oh yeah: any skills or accomplishments that aren't purely decorative. No calculus. No economy. No critical thinking. Only things that will help her attract a dude.
"Pardon me for interrupting you, madam," cried Mr. Collins; "but if she is really headstrong and foolish, I know not whether she would altogether be a very desirable wife to a man in my situation, who naturally looks for happiness in the marriage state. If therefore she actually persists in rejecting my suit, perhaps it were better not to force her into accepting me, because if liable to such defects of temper, she could not contribute much to my felicity." (20.4)
Mr. Collins wants to be happy when he's married. Fair enough. But he doesn't seem overly concerned—or, well, concerned at all—about his wife's happiness. Obvi. That's totally not the point.