Pride and Prejudice Context

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England in the late eighteenth – early nineteenth century

Major World Events
* 1810s – 1820s – Latin American wars of independence which saw many colonies in the region gain independence, freeing themselves from Spanish and Portuguese empires * 1810 – University of Berlin was founded and among its students and faculty were Hegel and Marx * 1812 – The French invasion of Russia, which led to, the eventual defeat of Napoleon’s French empire leading to the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy in France. As a direct result of the Napoleonic wars, the British empire became the foremost world power for the next century * 1812 – 1815 – War between USA and UK

Political Events
* Spencer Percival assassinated in the House of Commons
* The British are victorious over French armies at the Battle of Salamanca

Social Movements
* Society was heavily and clearly divided into the rich areas of London such as Regents Park and Regent Street in London where they were celebrating ‘regency style’, beauty and fashion etc. and the less affluent areas where there was thievery, gambling etc. * Inflation of prices of food and taxes to the Government, King and the Church crippled the poor * As part of the Industrial Revolution, there were growing numbers of people leaving farms and the countryside to find work in the cities where there were many new factories. This shift from rural to urban saw an increase in slums and poverty in the major cities. (Jane Austen lived in the countryside, and the focus of her novels are the charms and relative romance of the country)

Social Mores
Gentlemen
* A gentleman is always introduced to a lady never the other way around (a special case of the more general rule that a social inferior is always introduced to a superior). This is why Elizabeth Bennet is horrified when Mr. Collins insists on introducing himself to Mr. Darcy. * If you meet a lady that you only vaguely know, you must wait for her acknowledging bow before you can tip your hat to her. You do not speak to her unless she speaks to you first. * If you meet a lady you know well and she signifies that she wants to talk, then you turn and walk with her. You never make her stand, talking in a street. * At a public exhibition or concert, if accompanied by a lady, he goes in first in order to find her a seat. If he enters the exhibition alone and there are ladies or older gentlemen present, then he removes his hat.

Ladies
* If unmarried and under thirty, she is never to be in the company of a man without a chaperone. Except for walking to church or a park in the early morning, she must be accompanied by another lady, a man, or a servant. * A lady can never call on a gentleman alone unless it is a professional or business matter * A lady never dances more than three dances with the same partner * A lady should never ‘cut’ someone, that is, to fail to acknowledge their presence after encountering them socially unless it is absolutely necessary. At the same time, only a lady is ever truly justified in cutting someone.

Position and Role of Women in Society
* The eighteenth century view that women should participate in work close to the home, whilst their husbands went out into the world carried over into the nineteenth century * Women were homemakers and the tenderness and simplicity of the feminine mind made home life more amiable for the man who had to deal with the corrupt, complex world. She should be able to assist her husband in his affairs, lighten his cares, soothe his sorrows, strengthen his principles and educate his children * This ability of women was domesticity and marriage was the proper state in which to exercise domesticity * Piety brought social advantages in the form of active participation in the community as a member of the church/affiliated charitable society and such a position commanded the respect and praise of the community * If a man made any...
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