Class and Social Division

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In the novel, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, women of 19th century England must marry into a well fortuned family by finding a “suitable” partner. However, Elizabeth Bennet finds herself questioning certain views of society. When Mr. Bingley, a young wealthy gentleman moves into the town along with the equally wealthy and respectable Mr. Darcy, the Bennet girls are given a chance to seize higher status. The society in this story is very much organized by where a person falls in the social ladder and this is dictated by how much property he/she owns. As a major theme in the novel, class difference serves as a barrier that creates a fair distance between some of the characters and determines the personality of each character also.

Differences in social class is what keep couples like Elizabeth and Darcy or Jane and Bingley apart for much of the novel. Elizabeth finds most of the upper class snobby and filled with pride. Although Mr. Darcy is a propertied gentleman, Elizabeth finds him unpleasant because of his arrogance and lack of manners. In return, Darcy views Elizabeth with disapproval because of her family’s social status and background. “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men.” (Chap. 3) This statement made by Darcy illustrates his poor opinion of those who are of lower class than him. Elizabeth overhears this negative statement about her, and Darcy’s pride because of his social status and disdain he holds for people in lower classes initially leads to Elizabeth’s detest. They both treat each other with contempt and neither of them try to understand the other. This is one of the reasons why when told by Wickham that he had been cheated of some inheritance by Darcy, Elizabeth assumes that Darcy is a culprit, and an all around dishonest person. Miss Bingley also views Elizabeth as an unworthy partner for Darcy and tries her best to keep...
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