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Social Status In Mrs. Dalloway And Pride And Prejudice

1646 words - 7 pages

Social class is one of the main topics that are examined in both Pride and Prejudice and Mrs. Dalloway. Both Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf look at how it affects the characters and their views of each other.
In Pride and Prejudice, social class is very pronounced, throughout the entire book. Looking at the Bennet family. They are considered middle class, because of this they are still able to socialize with the upper-class Darcy’s and Bingley’s. They are, however, still lower in class than them and the upper class lets them know it and makes it very clear, that they are still beneath them. This can be seen when Mr. Collins tells Elizabeth that, “Do not make yourself uneasy, my dear cousin, ...view middle of the document...

It is said by Mr. Collins that, “The death of your daughter would have been a blessing in comparison of this. […] Howsoever that may be, you are grievously to be pitied; in which opinion I am not only joined by Mrs. Collins, but likewise by Lady Catherine and her daughter, to whom I have related the affair. They agree with me in apprehending that this false step in one daughter will be injurious to the fortunes of all the others; for who, as Lady Catherine herself condescendingly says, will connect themselves with such a family?”(261) Out of all the characters, Elizabeth is one of the only that is able to get past the idea of social standing and accept Lydia and Wickham’s marriage, even though she isn’t very happy with Wickham tricking her younger sister into marriage. She also accepts that Darcy’s social standing and her own are not that different and that it shouldn’t matter, because they are both truly in love with one another. As she says to Lady Catherine, “In marrying your nephew, I should not consider myself as quitting that sphere. He is a gentleman; I am a gentleman's daughter; so far we are equal.”(56) In a letter to Elizabeth, Lydia says, “I wish you joy. If you love Mr. Darcy half as well as I do my dear Wickham, you must be very happy.” (346) Lydia even though she marries down in social status is very happy and in love with Wickham, just like Darcy is with Elizabeth. However, Darcy is not only marrying Elizabeth for love, but also because he is losing his social standing. In this time period, social status was everything. It was especially everything in a woman’s life. For the Bennet daughters, a high social standing marriage is the only way they will have a place to live after Mr. Bennet dies, because Mr. Collins will be the one taking over the estate. At this time, women were not able to inherit property. In Pride and Prejudice, social status runs everyone’s lives. Even though, some characters are able to get past it and look at other things, like love. It still is a huge component to society.
In Mrs. Dalloway, social class is just as important as in Pride and Prejudice. In fact even more, because Woolf includes characters with very low social class like Miss Kilman, who is jealous of Clarissa, because of her low social status. Miss Kilman is looked down upon because of her relation with Germany during the War. She is defined as, “Year in year out she wore that coat; she perspired; she was never in the room five minutes without making you feel her superiority, your inferiority; how poor she was; how rich you were; how she lived in a slum without a cushion or a bed or a rug or whatever it might be, all her soul rusted with that grievance sticking in it, her dismissal from school during the War – poor embittered unfortunate creature!” ( iBooks 18) In Mrs. Dalloway, you can detect a bit of jealousy from Miss Kilman, when her and Elizabeth go out shopping and she gets jealous of the child eating a pink cake she wanted. Another...

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