“The rightful property of some one or other of their daughters”: Men-as-Commodities in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and Emma

Main Article Content

Ankita Sundriyal


Jane Austen's novels Pride and Prejudice and Emma present heroines who have their own ideas of identity making: one of them chooses to stay away from the marriage market entirely, while the other acts in a matron/chaperone like fashion, projecting herself as existing outside the norm. This paper focuses on this aspect of identity making in both these novels. Apart from this, in Pride and Prejudice, men like Darcy, Bingley, Wickham and Fitzwilliam are reduced to mere commodities while the women are customers, evaluating them to no end. Emma of Emma views men in the same manner, trying to arrange matches between the elusive Weston and her governess or looking for a suitable costumer for Mr Elton, who has “fitted up his house so comfortably” (Austen, Emma 7) but can find “nobody in Highbury who deserves him” (ibid). This paper is therefore a rereading that argues that the narrative presents the men, instead of women, in the novel as commodities (taking recourse to Irigaray's concept of women-as- commodities) that have no voice or opinion of their own, and who in fact spend their time pleasing women around them and exhibiting their traits and position in society, in order to be seen as eligible.

Article Details