In terms of hobbies and careers(or lack there of), it was not a societal norm for women to perform tasks that were “indelicate” and anything less than ladylike. Jobs such as entrepreneurship, or even portrait painting were seen as too masculine for women to do, and thus, they were confined to being stay-at-home mothers and wives. In fact, female authors such as Jane Austen tended to publish their novels anonymously for the good of the book’s sales, and reputation. In the most desperate of times, a women could become a governess, or a nanny, for a more wealthy, upper class family. However, taking up a role as a governess was seen as substandard, and for the lower class. Becoming a teacher for girls’ schools was an option as well, but only for educated women, which was an uncommon occurrence. Because of these issues with societal norms, there was a really narrow set of hobbies for women to pursue during this time period.
Middle and upper class girls did have the opportunity to receive an education, but in the eyes of regency England’s society, their intellectual capabilities were far below those of boys. Philosophy, science, mathematics, and classical languages were all regarded as too taxing on the female mind, and as a result, women tended to stray from these fields. Women who did become educated in these subjects, however, were said to have lost their “softness.” An example of this is through Jane Austen’s description of Mary Bennet. She describes Mary as “in consequence of being the only plain one in the family, worked hard for knowledge and accomplishments.” This suggests that if a woman was not physically attractive, she would have to compensate for it by being knowledgeable and possessing certain skills, such as playing the piano. Elizabeth Bennet defies a lot of these societal expectations by doing tasks that were "not for women", such as reading, and others find it peculiar, so it could be argued that Elizabeth is the one in the book to break from that mold of female stereotypes at the time.
Women also had to play a role in society in which they had to work extra hard to attract men while men sat back to “pick and chose.” An example of this is shown in the beginning of the novel, at the ball. Darcy and Bingley sit back and have open conversation about the physical appearance of the women at the ball, paying no heed to the women that are listening. Moreover, the women take the men’s good comments with pride, and do not oppose the judgement that comes their way. Charlotte Lucas even points this out upon saying, “In nine cases out of ten a woman had better show more affection than she feels.” This also justifies Mrs. Bennet’s obsession with marrying off her girls. She seems to show a great deal of care, and put additional effort into it, because that was women were expected to do, and it was of high priority for them, determining their future family wealth, reputation, and marital status of the other Bennet children. A good majority of the time, women were also very subject to harsh judgment based off of even very little habits that they possess. For example, when Elizabeth shows up to the Bingley’s place in a muddy dress, so much judgement is passed upon her, and when Lydia elopes with Wickham, Darcy advises Bingley that Jane is not from an honorable family because of her sister’s actions. This also ties back into the fact that women had a duty to please men for them to consider marriage.
In Jane Austen’s novel, a “woman’s place”, whether it be in terms of economic security, marriage, legal rights, or the education of girls and young women, is clearly outlined, and is also distinctly shown as of high prioritization. A woman following her intended path could determine her whole life, and had the ability to impact her marriage, children, and family. Several people relied on the women of the family to marry rich in order to save their families financially, and even reputationally. These roles that women held in society ultimately justify the behavior of all of the characters in the novel, because despite women having so little power and say towards the outcome of their lives, certain small decisions that she made could have a tremendous impact, and could even be considered as the backbone of regency European society.