Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice

1061 Words Jul 12th, 2018 5 Pages
To Be or Not to Be People are often seen basing their lives off of society’s standards. Many writers criticizes the influence that society has over its members. The romantic novelist Jane Austen satirizes her society and those who follow it. One of her most famous works, Pride and Prejudice, is a great example of this satire. Throughout the novel she explores the effects of society through her characters. In Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice, she divulges the central theme of society and social class through the characters Elizabeth Bennet, Mr. Darcy, and Lady Catherine.
The first character that Austen uses to analyze this theme is Elizabeth Bennet. Austen describes Elizabeth as “uncommonly intelligent” (qtd. in Auerbach 135).
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She speaks in a peremptory voice because of her place in society. Austen mocks the “hyper- class-conscious” aristocracy through Lady Catherine’s character (1). Lady Catherine depends on social status order for a sense of security and self-worth. Lady Catherine refuses to tolerate Elizabeth’s stubbornness, independent thoughts, and desire to marry Darcy (Auerbach 140). She feels that a union formed between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy threatens the security that her status provides. Lady Catherine exclaims, “[F]or do not expect to be noticed by his family and friends, if you wilfully act against the inclinations of all. You will be censured, slighted, and despised, by everyone connected with him. Your alliance will be a disgrace; your name will never be mentioned by any of us (Austen 305). She refuses to recognize the individuality and expects everyone to follow the mold created by the society. Seth Cassel explains that “Lady Catherine’s proud status- oriented character primarily helps establish Elizabeth as a strong-willed individual…” (1). Elizabeth does not let Lady Catherine’s prejudice destroy her pride or happiness.
In summary, Jane Austen explores the theme of society and social class in Pride and Prejudice. Critics claim:
Pride and Prejudice contains many elements of social realism, and it focuses on the merging of the bourgeoisie and the aristocracy during the era of the Napoleonic wars and at the beginning
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