The Lack of Social Mobility in Jane Austen’s novel "Pride and Prejudice"

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Pride and Prejudice, a novel written by Jane Austen during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century is often thought of as simply a love story and although on the surface this is true, it is in fact much more than that. Austen focuses greatly on the class system and lack of social mobility allowed in England during this period (the Napoleonic Wars, 1797-1815) and the pride and prejudice that these social divides reveal, as well as the personal pride and prejudice shown by individual characters and how these interlink. The novel is in many ways a comedy of manners (that is, a comedy that ridicules a particular social group because of their attitudes and behaviour, in this case the Upper class and to some extent the Middle class). …show more content…
Her dislike of him grows as his liking of her increase until whilst she is visiting her recently married best friend Charlotte, and her husband, Elizabeth’s cousin Mr Collins, Mr Darcy proposes. Elizabeth refuses, however when she discovers she was mistaken in her view of him her feelings towards him warm, particularly after she finds out he saved her sister from disgrace by paying Mr Wickham (Darcy’s adversary and the man who had eloped with her sister) to marry Lydia. They finally put aside their differences and marry, to Darcy’s aunt Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Miss Bingley’s disgust.
Elizabeth Bennet is a very good example of both pride and prejudice. She is her father’s favourite as she is the cleverest of his children, in his words she “has something more of quickness than her sisters”. The first time she meets Mr Darcy, at an assembly (ball) she overhears Mr Bingley attempting to convince him to dance. He refuses. When Bingley suggests he dance with Elizabeth, describing her as very pretty (though not as beautiful as Jane) Darcy is not convinced, replying that “she is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me”. To Elizabeth’s credit she tries to laugh it off, relaying the story to her friends but the reader can see she is more affected by the comment than she lets on during her conversation with Charlotte Lucas after the ball. Charlotte says his pride “does not…