Pride and Prejudice: Social Class Essay
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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…show more content…
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 for a comfortable home; considering Mr Collins's character, connections, situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is fair, as most people can boast on entering a marriage state" By this Charlotte is questioning Elizabeth's values, believing she is over her head in her ideas. She is simply happy with what she has been dealt
While the novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen does not openly display Marx's idea of the oppressed and the oppressor, it does clearly demonstrate Marx's ideas of society as a history of class struggle. Austen portrays class divisions and struggles through the relationships between the characters in the novel, chiefly the relationship between Darcy and Elizabeth. When subjected to a Marxist reading, Pride and Prejudice reflects how relationships were determined by wealth and class status in pre-industrial England. Subsequently the novel also displays the emergence of the bourgeoisie (the Gardiners) and how they affect class relations.
Although Pride and Prejudice was written before the bourgeoisie become the dominant class of the western world, the industrial revolution had already begun and so had the emergence of this social class. Therefore the principle of personal worth being decided by 'exchange value' (p. 82 The Communist Manifesto) can still be read in the novel and Marx's criticism of the bourgeoisie can still be applied. It was obvious from the novel's orientation that relationships were determined by a character's 'exchange value' or in other words, their wealth and social...
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