Pride and Prejudice

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Theme of class and reputation in the novel "Pride and Prejudice"

In the novel Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen portrays a world where boundaries between families and people are created by a hierarchy of social classes. In 19th century Regency England, class depicted social value and worth in society. Distinctions of social class are evident as class discrimination manifests itself in various forms throughout the novel; aristocratic families gained more respect and reputation while lower-class families are treated as inferiors. The author contrasts the differing social classes in her novel using vivid characters. Elizabeth Bennet, the protagonist of Pride and Prejudice, plays the role of an outspoken and virtuous middle-class woman. The Bennets are classified as a gentry family, which refers to people of higher class that own property and maintain a higher social reputation. The Bingleys and Darcys, however, are wealthy, aristocratic families that own prominent estates and are ranked the highest in the class hierarchy system. These well established families tended to be proud and pretentious, qualities that Mr. Darcy epitomizes in Pride and Prejudice. Finally, the Lucas family falls into the lower-class category of the social groups. They do not own prestigious estates or keep a high social reputation. Throughout the novel, the importance of class becomes evident as girls begin to search for a potential husband at a certain age. In 19th century England, class, reputation, and wealth took precedence over love and compatibility when it came to marriage. When a wealthy and respectable bachelor named Mr. Bingley moves into town, all the girls looking for marriage clamor around him in hopes of winning his affection. Mrs. Bennet pressures her children to marry into higher class for social reputation; she persuades Jane and Elizabeth to take interest in Bingley and Mr. Collins, two men who come from respectable families of a higher class. Mrs. Bennet cares little...
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