Abstract

In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet is confused in Darcy's presence and thoughtful about him (and much else) in his absence. This article argues that the contrast reflects both a general—and a particularly gendered—implication of early modern epistemology. Elizabeth's confusion in Darcy's presence suggests the general uncertainty accompanying any perception of a material object. But women's lack of basic property rights also renders the object world particularly absent and uncertain for them. For Austen, the narrative advantage of this uncertainty is that it creates the need for thought. Perhaps one reason the dispossessed heroine is such a fixture of the early modern novel is that she epitomizes the doubt that renders a character's mind complex.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-315X
Print ISSN
0013-2586
Pages
pp. 337-350
Launched on MUSE
2006-04-10
Open Access
No
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