Alexis Miller

Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department or School

English Language and Literature

Committee Member

Laura George, PhD

Committee Member

Margaret Dobbins, PhD


Reading Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Emma from a feminist perspective reveals Austen’s desire for progressive marriages built on equality and love. Comparing the characteristics and eventual marriages of Austen’s heroines, Elizabeth Bennet and Emma Woodhouse, to other women and relationships in her novels highlights their uniqueness as women of agency who desire more than the society of Regency England offered women. Through such comparisons, Austen brilliantly displays her critique of the patriarchal society and the limitations that it set on women. Her critique is further established in the two novels through her emphasis on breaking down the false patriarchal dichotomies that were prevalent in her society. Austen’s fight for women’s equality aligns her with other feminist thinkers of the time, such as Mary Wollstonecraft, and works to set the stage for what would later become first-wave feminism.