Essay Sample on Social Class in Pride and Prejudice

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1661 Words
Date:  2022-10-25


In Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen presents and positions to us the reputation of marriage and social class within the world with limited social mobility, describing many features of marriages and indicating how individuals can make the best of their life irrespective of the circumstances. The author demonstrates that class matters in many incidences shown by the characters, the novel illustrates a social world that is full and extremely stratified of class struggle and pretension. Jane Austen demonstrates the differences that exist between different social classes during the 19th century, the differences that exist between social classes generate extreme prejudice and tension. With this social context, Jane Austen uses several couples to satirize and expose societal values and to discover the nature of perfect marriage. In the novel, similar social classes typically socialize, interact and finally marry each other. Wealthy men and women keep their borderline from those women and men from lower classes, hence creating understood social class. In our society today, social class is still essential as social institutes are affected by class differences (Mackie, Diane, & Eliot 57).

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Satire on Social Class in the Novel

The novel satirically portrays the universal standards in England, regarding social class. It parallels the current social class structure, though our present- day system is more flexible than the class system in the 18th century, as the individuals of the elite, such as celebrities, are still apt to wed upper-class individuals, despite their inferiority socially. For example, society expects actors to marry from a privileged social class. The situation is similar to what is in the novel, where Anne de Bourgh, daughter to notable Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who is expected to wed with Darcy (Austen & Howells 30). They are expected to marry each other as both of them are distinguished lineage and come from same prestigious family. Distinguished Lady de Bourgh made a trip to see Elizabeth as she hears that Elizabeth is engaged to Darcy who is Anne`s future planned husband. Lady Catherine becomes hungry that the anticipated marriage between her daughter Anne and Darcy is being prevented by a young woman from an inferior family. Lady de Bourgh behavior was presumably derived from society who exalt the upper class and was behaving strangely in a comical manner to Elizabeth.

Class Consciousness and Relationships

The social class consciousness is mainly illustrated in the relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy from the first time they met until when Elizabeth visits Pemberley. The class distinction shows that class difference is just an illusion rather than a real barrier to marriage, specified that Elizabeth who was socially inferior to Darcy, was not academically inferior to him (Austen & Howells 36). Due to this, Darcy appreciates his class pretense is misinform towards Elizabeth, as she also realized her prejudice to the preferred manner of Darcy is misplaced after he saved Elizabeth`s family from disgrace and scandal. Here, the author uses Elizabeth and Darcy to show class distinction does not allow individuals to own every good desired and does not guarantee one`s lifetime happiness.

Examples of Marriages and Social Class

Furthermore, social class distinction is shown by other characters in the novel, like Mr. Collins, who was spending most of his time exaggerating and praising the magnificence of his patron, Lady Catherine de Bourgh who was from upper-class. His views are the most obvious and extreme example of the existence of social class consciousness, and they are used by Jane Austin to emphasize class themes that exist in many individuals in various class levels. Once Mr. Collins referred his Patron to be born as ditches while he was addressing Mr. and Mrs. Bennet concerning Lady Catherine de Bourgh (Austen & Howells 46).Mrs. Bennet desires her daughters to be married to the best men, as she embraced them always whenever she spoke. From she spoke, the men she desires to marry her daughters are rich, polite and socially powerful men; she valued the idea of wealthy men marrying her daughters for material gain rather than to be married to someone they were in love together. As Mrs. Bennet and her daughters were relying heavily on Mr. Bennet, Mrs. Bennet wants her daughters to be wedded as soon as possible to the wealthiest and socially advanced men.

Additionally, Mr. Collins comes to look for a wife in Bennet`s home. He is a rich man and went to a wealthy family looking forward to marrying one of Mr. Bennet daughters. He laid eyes first on Jane but told she was already engaged; then he turned to Elizabeth in which his proposal to her was not pleasant. Elizabeth finds him a conceited, narrow-minded and silly man. The rejection of Elizabeth to be married by Mr. Collins at that time was a revolutionary landmark. Elizabeth was against getting married on the ground of appearances instead be married for love and real purpose. Mr. Collins later married Charlotte Lucas which was probably a devastating and comical relationship; Charlotte Lucas married wealthy man Mr. Collins to get social security and financial stability. She is just under the pressure of social class and her mother who see Mr. Collins as the only option. Charlotte Lucas thinks her happiness will come by marrying Mr. Collin. She just considered Mr. Collins character and was convinced that she would have a comfortable home, and according to her, the man is the only alternative to social isolation and poverty (Kraus, Michael & Dacher 60).

Satire on Class Consciousness

Moreover, Austen made her novel, Pride and Prejudice indisputable, as it satirizes the system of social class in England during the 18th century. She did this by developing characters that place themselves on stands according to their respective classes. The author is eligible to make light of various judgmental class consciousness that is common to Regency England. The novel, in other words, show love and happiness can eradicate all class boundaries as near the end of the novel; Bennet crosses to Darcy`s estate, Pemberley property.

Comparing late 18th century in the novel and current century on what is going own in social class, there are similarities regarding how money or wealth in general puts individuals in different class levels. In today society, wealthy people socialize and interacts with the same class. Regarding marriage, mostly a child of a rich marries a child of another rich person, so then what is portrayed in Pride and Prejudice is just what is still in society today. There are those who marry due to wealth and others marry due to love. The changes in social structure today is just as a result of the reorganization of employment (Savage 58)

In Pride and Prejudice, social mobility was not easy through marriage as upper class, and lower class were not freely interacting. Parents wanted their children to be married to someone from their class, as illustrated by Mrs. Bennet quest of looking for any possible way for her daughters to be married to wealthy men. However, in the current century, social mobility can be easy as it can be through many ways, such as occupational status or through gain of money in the lottery.


In conclusion, society today places a significant value on marriage, and the reason for getting married is love. Jane Austen in Pride and Prejudice illustrates a societal state in the late 18th century in England together with an awareness of social class issues that affect the society at that time. During the late 18th century, marriage was based on social background and economic reasons rather than love. Austin writes effects of class on marriage and the effect of marriage on class; she showed how individuals are influenced by social ladder and wealth. The author demonstrated that personal liking, class factors and wealth could produce shame, misery, unhappiness between the couple and isolation. The marriage between Darcy and Elizabeth displays that happiness is only attainable if both marry for true love (Mackie, Diane, & Eliot 77). It also shows the power of money and the significance of social class in the past and grants us the opportunity to evaluate the current society and relate it to the past. The novel never gets old as in today`s society the importance of social rank and money is easily noticed. It continues, and it will happen like an endless circle. Austen commentary provides a solution for problems of the time, in that even distinctions and restrictions of class, when one discards false first impressions can be negotiated.

Works Cited

Austen, Jane, and William D. Howells. Pride and Prejudice. New York, Chicago: C. Scribner's Sons, 1918. Print.

Kraus, Michael W., and Dacher Keltner. "Social class rank, essentialism, and punitive judgment." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 105.2 (2013): 247.

Mackie, Diane M., and Eliot R. Smith. From prejudice to intergroup emotions: Differentiated reactions to social groups. Psychology Press, 2016.

Savage, Michael. Social Class in the 21st Century, 2015. Internet resource.

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