Class and Gender Representations in Pride and Prejudice

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Jane Austin uses the novel Pride and Prejudice to comment on both class and gender expectations within a fixed society. She questions both the class stratification of the time, and the unreasonable expectations placed on gender, and the inequality between males and females. Written in 1796, Austin lived during the regency period, in which the novel is based and understood both the issues she was commenting on.

Austin used setting, and descriptions of the estates to give information on the characters and their social status. Using descriptions of Rosings Park, in comparison to Pemberly, readers are able to see the contrast between both Lady Catherine De Bough, and my Darcy. “Taste neither gaudy, nor uselessly fine, with less of splendour and more real elegance than the furniture of Rosings.” Austin uses the descriptions of the characters homes in order to differentiate between the manners of the two characters who share the same social status, and class.

Class stratification is one of the issues Austen raises, through Lady Catherine’s disapproval of Elizabeth marrying Mr. Darcy. The reason lady Catherine is so against the match is that she does not want the money of her family being spread among other families, and she does not want one of lower classes fouling her bloodlines, “The upstart pretensions of a young woman without family, connections, or fortune.” Lady Catherine comments on Elizabeth’s lack of class, and good connections, using these as weapons against Elizabeth, when trying to convince from marrying her nephew. This unwillingness to blur the lines of the clear class structure was a common issue of Austin’s time, coming against the newfound money, and supposed class, coming from people in trade, and the dwindling money coming from the estates of the time.

For a woman to be accomplished, a title any woman of class would seek, she was made to meet a number of expectations within society. “A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music,...
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