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In "Pride and Prejudice" The Bingley sisters and Mrs Hurst represent the hypocrisy of aristocratic 19th century England

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Introduction

Year 12 Literature Pride and Prejudice #1 The Bingley sisters and Mrs Hurst represents the hypocrisy of aristocratic 19th century England. Their speech, demeanour, and values are all excessive and absent of moral foundation. The argument concerning 'Miss Elizabeth Bennet's' sheer entrance to Pemberly for example clearly shows the shallow superficiality of their speech. 'Her manners were pronounced very bad indeed, a mixture of pride and impertinence; she had no conversation, no stile, no taste, no beauty.' The unwarranted input of 'very' and 'indeed' to their appraisal conveys the excessive nature of their class, as does the criteria on which they base their judgement, 'conversation', 'stile', 'taste', and 'beauty'. All of which are merely elements of ones exterior and not true qualities of character. But then to conclude that 'she has nothing, in short, to recommend her, but being an excellent walker' takes the form of an ironic nuclear warhead. ...read more.

Middle

Nonetheless, this respect is absolutely invalid; since the Bingley sister's fortune was 'acquired by trade' they are also members of the lower merchant class and not superior in the slightest to the Bennet's. Hence the condescending tone by which Caroline Bingley addresses Lizzy as 'Miss Eliza Bennet', and Mary's respect to her is hypocritical. In Darcy case, it is his pride in which he 'begins to feel the danger of paying Elizabeth too much attention' that conveys a sense of obligation to regulate his feeling of a woman of inferior class. In relation to the societies values, its essence can be concluded by Mr Hurst's reaction to Elizabeth's refusal to a game of cards, 'Do you prefer reading to cards? That is rather singular'. Suggesting a repetitious game of chance is more appealing to the bulk, than moral enlightenment obtained through wide reading. This card game metaphor blends into Mrs Bennet's philosophy on marriage. ...read more.

Conclusion

The manner in which Mr Collins categorically supports his interest in 'Longbourne' (ie. why he 'chose' to marry Elizabeth) is excessively ironic, hypocritical and simply irrational. Not once through these dot points is Elizabeth's interest even uttered. Through the entire 'ordeal' he interprets Elizabeth's rejections of his hand as playfully flirtations commonly expected by an 'elegant female', and continues his 'effusions' of the great moment when Miss de Bough 'while Mrs. Jenkinson arranged her foot-stool' shared her council: 'Mr. Collins, you must marry. Chuse properly, chuse a gentlewoman for my sake; and for your own, let her be an active, useful sort of person, not brought up high, but able to make a small income go a good way.' The sheer fact that Miss de Bough's input is there at all provides commentary on the artifice of marriage of the time; to consider her opinion important in a marriage that is not even hers just because of her material status is absurd, let alone her far from poetic description of a worthy wife. ...read more.

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