The Social Class Of Pride And Prejudice English Literature Essay
Pride and Prejudice has four main inflection points: first impression, misunderstanding, attraction, and marriage. The first impression is where all the members of the gentry and the common people have a chance to assess each other and their worth. The only two people who have any resistance from this erratic but expected judging contest is Jane Bennet and Charles Bingley, a couple who emphasize the idea of “love at first sight.” Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy, the foil couple of Jane and Mr. Bingley, are in the throes of prideful and prejudicial pissing contest and well on their way of making some significant social blunders. While in this turmoil of hate and respect, Elizabeth is given a chance to save her sinking family by marrying a distant cousin, one that would be respectable of marrying in society. However, Elizabeth chooses to stay an independent woman and forsakes her family. The type of attitude that Elizabeth exhibited is deemed “inappropriate” by society’s standards and further garners the prejudicial hate of all the gentry. The second inflection, the misunderstanding, occurs when the gentry, specifically Mr. Darcy, tries to rectify the mistake Charles Bingley makes when he exhibits the intention to marry Jane Bennet, a lady well beneath his stature. This idea that two social classes cannot cross each other is the root cause of such turmoil between the two classes as well within the relationships of Jane and Bingley and Elizabeth and Darcy.
The third and fourth inflection points are where the story has reached its climax. In the attraction period Mr. Darcy has already proposed to Elizabeth and has been rejected. But in this crucial period of time Elizabeth has started to see the change within the character of Mr. Darcy. She in fact comes to fall in love with him, a sign that she is slowly coming over her pride of being an independent woman. Within the last inflection point there is a marriage, Jane and Bingley’s, this ending scene marks the end of the barrier between the snobbish gentry and the common people.
The theme of Pride and Prejudice is that social class can both define a character as well as set one’s principles. The defining of character and principles is caused by a society who has become subjected to the severity of the social class rules in which the social class system is a binding force that coerce people to “live” life in the invisible confines created by intangible wealth. However, in regards to love all such rules are cast away. The idea that one may not “rub elbows” let alone marry someone who is beneath he/she’s status are blind sighted by couples who are enraptures in their heated but seraphic love. Austen trying to send a message that love can transcend the barrier of social classes, but before that there will always be a clashing of beliefs and attitudes due to a contrastive upbringing.
In Pride and Prejudice there are a total of seven marriages, but the two that constitute with the theme are the marriages of Jane and Mr. Bingley and Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. Jane and Mr. Bingley’s affair is a very straight forward affair; Mr. Bingley is a wealthy man and is desperately in love with Jane Bennet, a woman well beneath his stature, who loves him just as much. This couple wants to be together but the only force that holds them apart in the approval of the gentry. In the middle of their courtship Mr. Bingley is forced to bid adieu to Jane because she deemed unfit for Mr. Bingley due to her family’s lack of propriety (stated by Mr., Darcy and Miss Bingley). However in the end Mr., Bingley forgoes all formalities and marries Jane (though he did gain the approval of Mr. Darcy, the man who all along disapproved of their union) which proves that love cannot be kept confined within the social formalities created by an exuberant amount of wealth.
One other union that went against all of “high” society’s standards was the marriage of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. Though their first impression of each other had them at each other’s throats they soon come to find that they have much in common even though there is a noticeable difference in their statuses, and they slowly come to love each other. The societal obstacles that was placed in their affair was first the distrust and the low opinion Elizabeth had of Mr. Darcy but when they overcame that Lady Catherine became another problem. Lady Catherine is a very wealthy, powerful, and respected lady within all of England and even has a place in the royal court. She objects to the union between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth she plans to marry off her daughter to him. She had in fact threatens Elizabeth to deny Mr., Darcy’s request of marriage (it had already been rejected). But in the name of love Mr. Darcy outs that all aside and marries a girl who is “inferior” to him.
Jane Austen's graceful narrative style was uncommon in her time. The time in which she wrote such an entertaining yet inspiring novel was a period in literature that mainly consisted of emotional excess, flowery wordiness, and many biblical allusions. Pride and Prejudice is written in a prose without containing one superfluous word and it also frequently breaks into dialogue that are very lively and very revealing of characters. In some of the passages the Austen enters the mind of some of her characters; though usually it is in the mind of Elizabeth because she is the main character of the novel, and it is there she will reveal her character's capacity for humor and self-criticism.
Much of the novel is filled with dialogue that is important because they explain the true nature of the characters for example “‘If he had had any compassion for me," cried her husband impatiently, "he would not have danced half so much! For God's sake, say no more of his partners. O that he had sprained his ankle in the first place!’” (Chapter 3) Mr. Bennet does not really wish bad fortune on Mr. Bingley but is instead is trying to express that he has had enough with his wife’s insufferable attitude. Austen style of revealing the character of such characters through dialogue is more insightful than revealing them through narration. This way the reader not only knows how the character thinks, but how he/she acts and thinks.
Narration is a very important key in Pride and Prejudice, not in the sense that there is a lot of it but rather who is telling the story. The narration of the novel most often remains with Elizabeth because she is protagonist in this novel, however the novel occasionally offers reader information that Elizabeth does not know, for example Charlotte’s interest of Mr. Collins. When such information is being told a cold dimension is added to the novel, in the sense that opinions, ideas, and events dominate the story rather than emotions.
One event that tends to dominate the novel is the event where Elizabeth receives Mr. Darcy’s letter which explains all to her. This entire chapter (chapter 13) is devoted entirely to her emotional transformation. The narration of this chapter is told in the narration of Mr. Darcy, which gives the novel a different approach however the approach is a more warm and emotional approach rather than when a narrator just spews out information.
One speculation needed to be made on narration is that by the end of the novel the third person narration that been used throughout the book switches to first person. This change in persons hints at the idea that along the narration was being told by Jane Austen herself. If Austen is writing this novel within her point of view then she is for certain adding her opinions of “everyman with a fortune is in dire need of a husband” and that a loved one can be found in any social class.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is a fantastic novel of finding love on the opposite side of the social spectrum. All social classes have their prejudices and pride, some more than others, however in the end all haughty arguments and differences are no match for the love of some couples like Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. The narration of the novel as well as Austen’s use of characterization ties the plot line into a neat little bundle where the only “wrinkle” there may be is whether or not the narration of the book is told through Austen’s point on view. In conclusion this novel is an awe inspiring story that reveals the true nature of social classes while breaking the barriers that would deny the love of two people with different social statures.
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