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|Charlotte's choice, Austen's feminism?
Written by Heather Leigh
(4/30/2010 2:51 p.m.)
She "accepted [Mr. C] solely from the pure and disinterested desire of an establishment..." and "Mr. Collins, to be sure, was neither sensible nor agreeable; his society was irksome, and his attachment to her must be imaginary. But still he would be her husband. Without thinking highly either of men or of matrimony, marriage had always been her object; it was the only honourable provision for well-educated young women of small fortune, and however uncertain of giving happiness, must be their pleasantest preservative from want. This preservative she had now obtained; and at the age of twenty-seven, without having ever been handsome, she felt all the good luck of it."
MY QUESTION: is Austen using this fictional situation as an occasion to make a little feminist point about the limited options for young women of her class?
Is she hoping/intending that the reader reflect indignantly on the unfairness of a social structure where a woman has no other "honourable provision" than marriage, no matter how personally distasteful a particular man -- or marriage in general -- might be to her?
I see Charlotte as similar to lesbians of earlier generations who married men because their society didn't offer them other comfortable/secure/socially acceptable life-paths.
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