Class In Pride And Prejudice Essay

Pride And Prejudice: Social Class Essay

Pride and Prejudice was first published in 1813 and it depicts key themes in society and the impact these themes had on life for the characters in the novel. One of these themes is social class, which was a chief contributor to the characters problems in the story. Social class is an underlying issue in the lives of the characters and greatly affects the decisions they make during the novel. Every character is aware of the importance of social standing and it becomes a key factor in the development of each individual in Pride and Prejudice. Mrs. Bennet is the mother of five daughters and she is desperate to have them married. Elizabeth wants to marry for love and not social gain. Charlotte is the example of what a woman was expected to be in society and does not agree with Elizabeth and she is content to secure a future. While Lydia runs the risk of disgracing her family by running a riot around town. This is a clear example of social class and the different perspective characters express on the topic.

Mrs. Bennet attempts to marry off her daughters to the best possible men. This was recognised by everyone and she often appeared to embarrass her daughters whenever she spoke. In her eyes the men she wanted for her daughters were wealthy, socially powerful and polite men. The idea that her daughters should marry for gain in material aspects of life was much more important for Mrs. Bennet than for her daughters to marry someone they were in love with. She believed that the family should organize the arrangement, seeing as the young girls are under the care of the family. Mrs. Bennet believes "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." Therefore, she believes her effort to have her children married is an advantage to both parties. Mrs. Bennet is of the firm belief that a daughter should serve her parents and respect their wishes.

She is also very smart in trying to marry off all of her daughters as soon as possible. The key reason was that women at this time depended on the men in their life to survive, it may have been their father or their husband but they relied heavily on the males in their lives. Because Mrs. Bennet and her daughters were so heavily reliant on Mr. Bennet, Mrs. Bennet was completely justified in trying to have her daughters married off to the richest and most socially advanced bachelors. She was also very aware of a women's role in society and knew that marriage was what society had in stall for them.

Charlotte is a neighbour and friend of Elizabeth, who is older and unmarried at the beginning of the story. She is simple in her values and does not question a women's role in society. Charlotte's main achievement in the story occurred when she was able to secure a proposal of marriage from Mr. Collins after he had been rejected by Elizabeth, who asked why she accepted. Charlotte explained "I am not a romantic you know. I never was. I only ask...

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Elizabeth, the non-conformist heroine defies this expectation uponrejecting the marriage proposal of her wealthier cousin, Mr Collins,citing his adverse qualities. Actions such as this were consideredoutrageous from a woman without significant wealth, as marryingMr. Collins would have enabled a woman of the time to have all thatshe wants in life.Pride and Prejudice depicts the typical value of Regency marriagesto be financial security, with ‘true love’ acting as an additionalbenefit. Charlotte Lucas, upon accepting the marriage proposalrefused by Elizabeth, explains, ‘I am no romantic you know. I neverwas. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr. Collins’character, connections, and situation in life, I am convinced that mychance of happiness with him is as fair, as most people can boast onentering the marriage state.’ This dictates that a young womanoffered marriage by a wealthy man with ‘connections’ should leap atthe prospect, rather than refuse in order to marry for love. WhilstCharlotte Lucas marries for convenience, Elizabeth is adamant onmarrying for love, and rejects the idea of marriage as aconvenience. Throughout Pride and Prejudice, Austen writes about the effects thatclass have on marriage, and marriage on class. The situations thatAusten creates in her novel, Pride and Prejudice are reflections of her own life. She had first hand experience of family interferenceduring her relationship with Mr. Tom Lefroy. A nephew of Austen’sfriend Anne Lefroy, Tom Lefroy and Austen developed a relationshipfrom the time that Austen was twenty. Tom was from a good familybut was not wealthy. Austen soon discovered that their relationshipwould never progress, and Tom went on to marry a woman with anappropriately large fortune. He himself was no Mr. Darcy, he wasn’tan heir to great estates or wealth, but it was clear that his familyhad expectations that Jane could not meet.Mr. Bennet, born into a reasonably wealthy family, married Mrs.Bennet, of the low middle class, due to his attraction to her, andsacrificed his social ranking. The main example of this in the text isdepicted within Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship. Whilst Darcyis of much higher class than Elizabeth and at first feels that ‘she istolerable, but not handsome enough’ to tempt him, his initial prideis succumbed by the fact that Elizabeth’s attitude and personalitybecomes exceedingly attractive to him. Although Darcy is able toovercome the barriers presented by their class, Darcy’s aunt, thearistocratic Lady Catherine deBourgh is unable to deal with theirrelationship. ‘You refuse to obey the claims of duty, honour, andgratitude. You are determined to ruin him in the opinion of all hisfriends, and make him the contempt of the world.’ ‘Do you notconsider that a connection with you, must disgrace him in the eyesof everybody?’ Austen’s satirical tone ridicules the beliefs andvalues of her time, but she emphasises the significance of them

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