Notwithstanding their fateful restrictions, women were "trained" nonetheless to climb socially. Shocking as it may seem, it is not a stretch to state that the women of the nineteenth century were trained to prostitute themselves socially.
Social climbing was achieved by marrying well. Marrying well meant that the woman married a man who was preferably wealthy and a step up from their social station. In all events, it is clear that being unmarried is a certain fate worse than death. (Liddell) Further, one can see throughout the novel that the girls must also rely on their charms. What do charms consist of Usually this meant their figures, their ability to play an instrument, hold conversation (although usually not the intellectual sort), singing and ultimately appearing to be the best compliment to the man they had set their sights on or vice versa (Poovey). Indeed, men too are quite aware of the training that women receive in securing them, but are more concerned with their social connections. This is evidenced by Darcy in Chapter 10 of the novel: "and Darcy had never been so bewitched by any woman as he was by her. He really believed that were it not for the inferiority of her connections, he should be in some danger."
It is true that many critics w...
However, women in Pride and Prejudice, for the most part demonstrate Jane Austen's own belief and compliance with orthodox tradition. It is perhaps for this reason that Austen has Elizabeth argue so passionately against Lydia being allowed to go to Brighton. It demonstrates that while Austen may have her own thoughts, feelings and ideas, she also realizes that in the end it does not matter because the act of one sister can indeed cause the ruination of the others. Thus, can it really be said that Austen is so forward thinking Actually, no because had Austen intended to create Lizzy as a pioneer, Lizzy would not have argued against Lydia's trip to Brighton and would not have been so devastated over the effect of Lydia's conduct upon herself. (Butler) It is clear that Jane Austen, while not very fond of what tradition orders, is not necessarily so interested in fighting it. She is actually rather accepting of the doom that accompanies family ruination as the result of one siblings conduct or else Lizzy would not have been so concerned over Darcy's thoughts.
The heartlessness of securing marriage is indeed best evidenced by Charlotte Lucas. In the novel, after Elizabeth Bennett flatly rejects Mr. Collins (whom it is generally agreed is a fool but for his connection with Lady Catherine DeBurgh and his parsonage),Charlotte, in record time "secures" Mr. Collins for herself (Smith). This type of behavior would have been something that was perfectly acceptable to 19th century women. Indeed, the main reason why Mr. Collins was appealing Mrs. Bennett was because Longbourne was entailed to Mr. Collins. Thus had Lizzy married Mr. Collins, Longbourne would have remained with the Bennets since Mr. Collins had already stated