In Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen allows the reader to gain an insight into society in 1813. Compare three pairs of characters who you consider represent one level of society.
Pride and Prejudice is a romantic novel set in 1813. It was an entirely insular community. This narrow-minded community was very headstrong about their concerns regarding marriage. The social statuses of the public were key in this community, as this gave the readers a clear definition of the importance social hierarchy and the boundaries between the higher and lower class.
This definition was very important, as, in the context of the book it was taboo for one to marry another of a different status. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice teaches us of the society in 1813 which allows the reader to fully comprehend how fundamental marriage was.
Undoubtedly, the wealthiest characters were of the highest social status in the community. In Pride and Prejudice the two most esteemed characters were unquestionably the richest characters in the book; these were Mr Darcy and Lady Catherine de Bourge.
Lady Catherine has many attributes and characteristics which help construct her untouchable status. She is very wealthy, owns vast amounts of land, has a major influence on her community and she has an obdurate power to acquire everything she desires in abundance. ‘Quote’. She is pretentious and takes pleasure in boasting her fortunate circumstances. However, due to the sexist community present at the time, she was restricted from her full potential as she was a woman and they were seen as dispensable.
Unlike Lady Catherine, Mr Darcy did not have to tackle this issue; therefore this made him the highest character in the novel, with Lady Catherine faintly beneath him. ‘Quote’. Mr Darcy has everything needed to live a comfortable and enjoyable life except from a wife. This is essential to marry, as he wants to have children to inherit his fortune as well as continue his family name. ‘Quote’.
Despite being less wealthy and lower in status, Mr Collins also marries to have a child to inherit his fortune. However unlike the higher status’, he marries Charlotte Lucas to impress Lady Catherine as he his dependant on her. Lady Catherine appointed him and he is indebted to her, ‘Quote’.
Because Charlotte Lucas is 27 and would have been known as ‘past her prime’, she had no choice but to except Mr Collins proposal to ensure she would not become a governess. ‘Quote’. Although Charlotte comes from a wealthy background she is not near of the status of Lady Catherine and Mr Darcy as her families wealth was earned through continuous hard labour, this then decreases the value of her wealth. ‘Quote’.
In complete contrast to Charlotte Lucas, Lydia Bennet is the youngest daughter of Mrs Bennet, at a meagre age of 15. Being the youngest out of five daughters makes her desperate to find a partner as her four older sisters have a higher priority to get married first. However she also has to get married as she elopes which puts her family at risk. ‘Quote’. She is socially restricted as she is very pretty but also very dangerous. She decides to marry Mr Wickham, the villain of the novel.
Mr Wickham is of the lowest status as he is the son of a servant, ‘Quote’. Alike to Lydia he is also socially restricted which makes them of equal status. Mr Wickham is a disliked character as he spreads numerous tales about the wrongs Darcy has done to him. Then it is eventually revealed that these tales are distortions, and that Darcy was the more wronged man in their acquaintance. ‘Quote’.