Lily Van Horn
6 November 2017
The Interplay of Social Class in Pride and Prejudice
The novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen shows the impact of social standing through the development of each character is a novel containing a major theme about the interplay and impact of social class on the Regency England society members. During this century, a family's history and connections is a key factor for social mobility, especially in deciding whom an individual will get married to. Each character is aware of the significance of social class in their lives. It is seen that the characters are put on pedestals in result of their social standing, and in result, it shows the decisions and actions made by each character. Social standing is the central contributor to the character's issues in the novel, especially seen through Mrs. Bennet and her desire to find husbands for her daughters, as well as the relationship development of the main characters Darcy and Elizabeth. Austen introduces Fitzwilliam Darcy as the perfect representation of an upper-class man in this time period, who is heavily concerned with his social standing and at first rejects Elizabeth due to her family's background. Elizabeth is introduced to show alternate views on society during this time, and how she is interested in love instead of gaining social authority. How the relationship between these two develops throughout the novel shows that love is ultimately more important for both Darcy and Elizabeth, testing the social norms of Regency England's social norms.
Jane Austen’s novel depicts the ubiquitous standards of the late eighteenth to early nineteenth century Regency England, especially concerning the connection of social class and marriage. During this time, social position was profoundly stratified. It was determined through family or marital connections and how money was earned. Members of the middle class in Regency England were either tenant farmers or rented land from the Landed Gentry landowners. In order to be a member of the upper class, a man would posses his fortune through the land or estate that he owned, and the rest of his family’s social status would be determined the same because of this. In result, a woman’s the ideal life and decider on social position was to be either born or married into the upper class:
If a woman from the gentry didn't marry and had no family members who could take her in and provide for her, often the only somewhat respectable alternative was to become a governess or a teacher in a school (Gao).
Other than the importance of being married or born into the gentry, finding an adequate husband of the upper class was also determined on whether the woman is proper, educated, and attractive. Whom a man of upper class gets married to is also important on their social standing, making marriage to a woman of lower class unlikely. “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good...