Ideal gender roles and individual self-expression in the novels Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility
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The wide range of scholarship centered on Jane Austen is full of contention. Some put forth that she was ahead of her time in regards to feminist ideology. Others say she did not go far enough, at least in comparison to what other women were doing at the time. I would argue, however, that Austen's views on women involve a balance between what was expected of them from society and their individual desires. As evidence, I will point to the pairs of sisters in her novels Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, who must also navigate society to find the right compromise between meeting society's expectations and yet asserting their own minds, with the former work stressing a balance of observing some rules of the class system and recognizing their limitations on the individual, and the latter proving one can have both sense and sensibility.