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Pride and Prejudice: Expectations and Prejudices in 19th-century England

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Words: 655 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Jan 29, 2024

Words: 655|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Jan 29, 2024

Table of contents

  1. The Influence of Social Class
  2. The Role of Marriage in Society
  3. The Impact of Pride
  4. The Prejudices Within Society
  5. Love and Personal Growth
  6. Conclusion
  7. References

When Jane Austen published Pride and Prejudice in 1813, England was a society heavily divided by social class, where marriage was viewed as the ultimate goal for women, and where prejudiced opinions were rampant. Through her characters, Austen examined these societal expectations and prejudices, highlighting the consequences of pride and the importance of overcoming prejudice. This essay will explore these themes and ideas as they are presented in the novel.

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The Influence of Social Class

In 19th-century England, social hierarchy played a significant role in defining an individual's status and opportunities. In Pride and Prejudice, Austen presents a range of different social classes, from the landed gentry to the working class, and explores how these differences affect character development and relationships. For example, the wealthy and aristocratic Mr. Darcy initially sees himself as superior to the Bennet family due to their lower social standing, and this causes tension between him and Elizabeth. Through this conflict, Austen demonstrates the damaging effects of societal expectations based on social class.

The Role of Marriage in Society

During Austen's time, marriage was seen as the most important goal for women, and social status and financial security were often prioritized over love. In Pride and Prejudice, Austen portrays different types of marriages, such as the unhappy union between Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, and the love match between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. By doing so, Austen shows the consequences of societal pressures on marriage choices and the importance of choosing a partner for love rather than financial gain.

The Impact of Pride

Pride is a central theme in the novel, and it manifests in several characters, including Mr. Darcy, Lady Catherine, and even Elizabeth herself. Austen uses these examples to demonstrate the negative consequences of pride, including misunderstandings, conflicts, and damaged relationships. By the end of the novel, several characters, including Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth, have learned the importance of humility and are able to overcome their pride, leading to personal growth and deeper relationships.

The Prejudices Within Society

Pride and Prejudice also explores societal prejudices based on social class, wealth, and appearance. For instance, Mr. Collins's obsession with status and Lady Catherine's disdain for those of lower social standing demonstrate the harmful impact of prejudiced beliefs. Additionally, the novel highlights the role of first impressions in shaping prejudiced opinions, most famously depicted in Mr. Darcy's initial disdain for Elizabeth based on her appearance and social status.

Love and Personal Growth

Through the development of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy's relationship, Austen examines how love can inspire personal growth and transformation. Both characters begin with flawed worldviews and prejudices, but through their interactions with each other, they are able to learn from their mistakes and become better individuals. Their love for each other also serves as a catalyst for this growth, inspiring them to acknowledge their past mistakes and strive to be better people.

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Conclusion

Pride and Prejudice remains a relevant and influential novel today, as it examines societal expectations and prejudices that continue to impact relationships and individual growth. By exploring themes such as social class, marriage, pride, prejudice, and love, Austen offers a nuanced critique of 19th-century England and the societal norms that shaped its culture. Through the journeys of her characters, Austen ultimately demonstrates the importance of humility, open-mindedness, and self-reflection in overcoming societal prejudices and achieving personal growth.

References

  1. Austen, J. (1813). Pride and Prejudice. London: T. Egerton.
  2. Baker-Smith, D. (1993). Pride and Prejudice and the Pursuit of Happiness: A Critical Inquiry into the Pedagogy of Jane Austen. Nineteenth-Century Literature, 48(3), 305-331. doi:10.2307/2933829
  3. Johnson, C. (2002). Jane Austen: Women, Politics, and the Novel (2nd ed.). University of Chicago Press.
  4. Morgan, S. (2010). A Question of Class: The Societal Commentary of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Inquiries Journal, 2(8). Retrieved from http://www.inquiriesjournal.com/a?id=315
  5. Tanner, T. (1986). The Novels of Jane Austen. London: Macmillan Education.
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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Pride and Prejudice: Expectations and Prejudices in 19th-Century England. (2024, January 29). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 15, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/pride-and-prejudice-expectations-and-prejudices-in-19th-century-england/
“Pride and Prejudice: Expectations and Prejudices in 19th-Century England.” GradesFixer, 29 Jan. 2024, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/pride-and-prejudice-expectations-and-prejudices-in-19th-century-england/
Pride and Prejudice: Expectations and Prejudices in 19th-Century England. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/pride-and-prejudice-expectations-and-prejudices-in-19th-century-england/> [Accessed 15 Jul. 2024].
Pride and Prejudice: Expectations and Prejudices in 19th-Century England [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jan 29 [cited 2024 Jul 15]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/pride-and-prejudice-expectations-and-prejudices-in-19th-century-england/
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