Pride and Prejudice

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by dianliu
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Pride and Prejudice

Social Hierarchy

Quotes

Social Hierarchy and class are main themes that are explored in Pride and Prejudice. It strictly reflects the permanent and typical nature of life for the middle and upper classes in Regency England. The social hierarchy is strictly drawn. Although the Bennets are of middle class, they socialise with the upper-class - the Bingleys and Darcys. Even so, it is clear that they are seen as their social inferiors and are treated as such. Jane Austen uses satire to depict the kind of class-consciousness, particularly in the character of Mr.Collins who spends a majority of his time obsessing over his upper-class patron, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Not only Mr Collins holds such views, Miss Bingley dislikes anyone not as socially accepted as she is and Wickham will do anything to elevate himself into a higher status. Through the marriages between Darcy and Elizabeth, Jane and Bingley, Austen displays how love and happiness can overcome class boundaries and prejudices set up during that era, implying those prejudices are shallow, ineffective and unfeeling. Jane Austen was usually critised as being a classist though she doesn’t represent the lower class servants as being woe and unhappy.

[Miss Bingley:] "Oh! certainly," cried his faithful assistant, "no [woman] can be really esteemed accomplished who does not greatly surpass what is usually met with. A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half-deserved."This quote emphasises the expectations of agreeable women, such as a knowledge of music, a nice voice, and a graceful walk.

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE

By: Taylor, Julianna and Dian

"Do not make yourself uneasy, my dear cousin, about your apparel. Lady Catherine is far from requiring that elegance of dress in us which becomes herself and her daughter. I could advise you merely to put on whatever of your clothes is superior to the rest—there is no occasion for anything more. Lady Catherine will not think the worse of you for being simply dressed. She likes to have the distinction of rank preserved.”This shows that Lady Catherine De Bough likes to look socially superior to her guests suggesting her position on the social hierarchy as the upper class during Jane Austen’s times.

"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?" As Pride and Prejudice is so much revolved around class and status, what one person does greatly effects the reputation and honour of the family. When Lydia runs away with Wickham, she casted shame over all her sisters and their reputation.

"It will be no use to us, if twenty such should come, since you will not visit them."This quote highlights how powerless women were in the nineteenth century. These is no respectable way for the Bennet girls to meet Mr Bingley unless the father makes the first move.

"My reasons for marrying are, first, that I think it a right thing for every clergyman in easy circumstances (like myself) to set the example of matrimony in his parish; secondly, that I am convinced that it will add very greatly to my happiness; and thirdly—which perhaps I ought to have mentioned earlier, that it is the particular advice and recommendation of the very noble lady whom I have the honour of calling patroness." (Mr Collins)"When she is secure of him, there will be more leisure for falling in love as much as she chooses." (Charlotte)It was normal for people in the early 1800s to marry not for love but out of necessity and custom. Love was just a bonus that only lucky people were able to have.

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."In Jane Austen's time, men had it a lot easier than women when it came to marriage, as they would not be ruined without it. Nevertheless, there was a lot of social pressure on men with money and/or estates to marry and have children as it was their duty.

"When you have had time to think it over, I hope you will be satisfied with what I have done. I am not romantic, you know; I never was. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr. Collins's character, connection, and situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is as fair as most people can boast on entering the marriage state."Charlotte's opinion of marriage, as seen in this quote, differs greatly to Elizabeth, but similar to the ideas of many women. Marriage was a means of social security and true happiness was only a rare benefit.

"My reasons for marrying are, first, that I think it a right thing for every clergyman in easy circumstances (like myself) to set the example of matrimony in his parish; secondly, that I am convinced that it will add very greatly to my happiness; and thirdly—which perhaps I ought to have mentioned earlier, that it is the particular advice and recommendation of the very noble lady whom I have the honour of calling patroness." (Mr Collins)"When she is secure of him, there will be more leisure for falling in love as much as she chooses." (Charlotte)It was normal for people in the early 1800s to marry not for love but out of necessity and custom. Love was just a bonus that only lucky people were able to have.

"Which do you mean?" and turning round, he looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till catching her eye, he withdrew his own and coldly said, "She is tolerable; butnot handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humor at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. You had better return to your partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me."

At the beginning of the novel when Darcy first met Elizabeth at the ball, he refused to dance with her as he believes that Elizabeth is not socially great enough to dance with him or even associate with him.


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