In Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen provides a satirical commentary on the rigid class boundaries that existed in England at the turn of the 19th century. Whilst fundamentally a love story, it is the examination of the interference with the workings of true love that arise from concerns about social status and connections and the desire of individuals to improve such status and connections that provide the most insight into English society at the time. The novel’s author had grown up in a rigidly patriarchal society, receiving her limited education from her father and brothers. Austen’s writing greatly reflects this upbringing and in particular the dependence of women on marriage to secure economic security and social standing. This theme is prevalent throughout Pride and Prejudice as the Bennet sisters struggle with their prospects for a future with little social standing and no promise of inheritance.
From the beginning of the novel the class structure is set - the Bennets may socialise with the new upper class residents of Netherfield Park but they are clearly socially inferior and bound to be treated that way for the entire novel. As the... [continues]
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