• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How does Jane Austen reflect the social and historical context of her time in Pride and Prejudice

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

How does Jane Austen reflect the social and historical context of her time in 'Pride and Prejudice'? Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice very much reflects the 18th century in which she lived. She reflects the social and cultural context of this period of time through the characters and their actions, which realistically illustrates how social mobility was limited and class-consciousness was strong. She has also used particular characters to refute certain ideas of her time such as the importance of class divisions. Austen also uses marriage to reflect the trouble of finding financial security that many people of her time faced. This theme is linked to inheritance and second sons which Austen has also reflected in her novel. Finally, Austen reflects the actions and manners of women in regency England. Jane Austen reflects the strictly regimented nature of life for the middle and upper classes of late 18th and early 19th century England. There was an unwritten code of behaviour and morals to which these classes lived by. Although it was acceptable for middle class citizens, such as the Bennets, to socialise with the Bingleys and Darcys, who are upper class, the Bennets are social inferiors to them and are treated as such. Through the Darcy and Elizabeth's and Bingley and Jane's marriages, Austen shows the power of love and happiness to overcome class boundaries and prejudices, thereby implying that such prejudices are hollow, unfeeling, and unproductive. Austen satirises this type of class-consciousness, particularly in the character of Mr Collins, who always appears to be putting on a fa´┐Żade when around others, to make him seem classier than he really is. ...read more.

Middle

Mrs Bennet's extreme anxiety is once again shown when she threats Elisabeth, "If you go on refusing every offer of marriage, you will never get a husband... and I am sure I do not know who is to maintain you when your father is dead". This predicament was not an unusual occurrence within families that consisted of daughters only in Austen's time. Whilst it was the eldest sons who inherited the family estate, the younger sons, and men in quest of building fortunes, could earn considerable salaries in trade, like Bingley and Sir William Lucas in Pride and prejudice. Men could earn a living in law, as does Mr Phillips who is an attorney of Meryton. Alternatively, men like Colonel Fitzwilliam, who was the younger son of the Earl of Matlock, could pursue a life in the military, as does Colonel Forster, the Commander of a militia. Even the church offered a living to second sons, such as Mr Collins. A living was a position in the clergy, worth varying amounts of money, which an aristocratic patron usually gave according to his or (in Lady Catherine de Bourgh's case) her wishes. Men could not be considered "gentlemen", or men of the highest class, until they purchased a large estate and were able to give up working to pursue lives of leisure. However, they were able to leap societal boundaries by earning large fortunes. Pride and Prejudice depicts a society in which a woman's reputation is of upmost importance. As mentioned before, finding a wealthy husband became of primary importance for women pursuing financial security, and in order to attract these men, women were expected to be "accomplished". ...read more.

Conclusion

Furthermore, Austen reflects the unjustness of inheritance in her time. She seems to refute the idea that only men were able to inherit the family estate, and emphasises this idea by using the comical character of Collins as closest related male of the Bennets. It seems unfair that he should inherit the Bennet's estate and this explains Mrs Bennet's deep desire to marry her daughters off well. A situation like this was not uncommon in English society in Regency England. Finally, Jane Austen reflects how women of her time were expected to behave. She also demonstrates the certain skills women were expected to have in order to become "accomplished". It can be seen that being "accomplished" was important for women to succeed in life, as it was the only way of attracting a husband. Yet Austen appears to put across her view that the actions and manners of women in her time were becoming a thing of the past. She uses Lady Catherine to show the decline in values of the previous century, and the dramatic changes brought into the lives of people. Although Jane Austen clearly reflects the social context of her time in her novel, she does not seem to mention anything in the historical context. England was going through many changes at this moment in time, such as the Napoleonic War and the French Revolution, yet there is no evidence of this happening in the novel. This could be due to the fact that people of the higher classes were scarcely affected by the changes in politics and the new religious urgency. In conclusion, Jane Austen effectively reflects the social context of her time in Pride and Prejudice, through the characters and there actions, yet does not seem to mirror the historical context. ?? ?? ?? ?? Pride & Prejudice ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Jane Austen section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Jane Austen essays

  1. Jane Austen's View on the Social Class and How It Affects Elizabeth and Darcy's ...

    anyone, but he does not make an afford to be introduced to any woman. His saying "such assembly" reveals that he is looking down on everyone at the ball, and thinking that they are not worth his acquaintance. Despite his popularity at first for he is a handsome man with

  2. Analyse Jane Austen's presentation of love and marriage in her novel Pride and Prejudice. ...

    connections behind him and allow his love for her to be shown. In doing this, he is very frank. He says that he did try to separate Bingley and Jane; he accuses Elizabeth of being to proud to see past him and is arrogant in the way he makes his proposal.

  1. An exploration of Men and Women's relationships in Jane Austen's 'Pride and 'Prejudice

    Mr Collins comes across as very egotistic to the point of not knowing his status within society which leads to his character being snubbed; he is not a clever person although thinks he is. "Mr Collins was not a sensible man, and the deficiency of nature had been but little assisted by education or society."

  2. How does Jane Austen present the role of Women in Pride and Prejudice?

    This is shown all the way throughout the book. Many women of the nineteenth century were from a young age and are encouraged to settle down and get married to a rich husband. Many women would marry a man of who they did not love, and would never love.

  1. Free essay

    Pride and Prejudice

    to her throughout the evening even thought she barely stops talking to her Unlike Caroline Bingley Mr Darcy is much friendlier with Elizabeth. 'And yours...is a wilfully to misunderstand them.' from this quotation shows that Mr Darcy and Elizabeth are getting on very well as they are teasing each other.

  2. Explore the ways Jane Austen satirizes the social values of her characters in volume ...

    Bingley, and under your orders'. The word 'comfort' is ironic as death can never be a comfort. The idea that Jane may actually die 'in pursuit of Mr. Bingley' satirizes Mrs Bennet's foolish, irresponsible effort to get her daughters married.

  1. Show how the treatment of love and marriage in Pride and Prejudice reflects the ...

    So within his first arrival everyone had established a definite attraction to him if not for his appearance, then for his money. However, Austen has used the social symbolism of the marriages to show the gradual merging of social classes.

  2. Explore how Jane Austen Satirises the social standards of her time in Pride & ...

    Mrs Bennet is a very dramatic woman, and her objective in life in life is to get her daughters married to someone richer, and it doesn't bother her if they're in love are not. For example, when Mr. Collins asks Elizabeth to marry him, Mrs Bennet wanted her to accept

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work