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Significance of social, historical and cultural implications of 19th century

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Introduction

Significance of social, historical and cultural implications of 19th century Britain, featured in Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice' In the early 1800's, Jane Austen's novels were different to anything else that had been written in those times, and regarded as quality works of literature by her critics. However, it wasn't until after her untimely death in 1817 that Austen was discovered to be a woman. She had remained anonymous throughout her career as a novelist, initially due to the prejudices and sexism of her times. The situation is similar to a fellow author of the 1800's, Mary Ann Evans, who posed as George Elliot in order to publish her literature. Without anonymity, these women would not have had millions of the world's population poring over their writings nearly two hundred years on. It was a cultural barrier for women to enter a supposedly 'male's' world. Jane Austen wrote about the social difficulties everyday people faced in works such as 'Emma' and 'Mansfield Park', but it is her most popular piece, 'Pride and Prejudice' that displayed the most in-depth knowledge of the key themes of society. "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a good wife". This is the opening line of 'Pride and Prejudice', which is an amazingly brief and honest summary of the book. Two of the main themes are declared, money and marriage, and it also sets the stage for a chase-either by the young man in search of a bride, or by young women in pursuit of him as a husband. ...read more.

Middle

Netherfield ball reflected how socially inept the Bennett family were in the company of aristocrats. Elizabeth and Jane are acutely aware of their mother talking at the top of her voice- "Mrs. Bennet seemed incapable of fatigue while enumerating the advantages of the match between Jane and Bingley. His being such a charming young man, and so rich, and living but three miles from them" It is not only Mrs Bennet that is behaving in a way that no self-respecting person would do in polite company "Mary's powers were by no means fitted for such a display; her voice was weak, and her manner affected." This is about the middle Bennet daughter, Mary. After Mary tries to start a new song, her father makes the situation worse by trying to stop her ``That will do extremely well, child. You have delighted us long enough. Let the other young ladies have time to exhibit." Elizabeth knows her family's behaviour will bring unpleasant social implications amongst the guests in future, "To Elizabeth it appeared that had her family made an agreement to expose themselves as much as they could during the evening" The day after the ball, Elizabeth's second cousin Mr Collins makes her an offer she was not expecting, and proposes to her. "But the fact is, that being, as I am, to inherit this estate after the death of your honoured father, I could not satisfy myself without resolving to chuse a wife from among his daughters, that the loss to them might be as little as possible, when the melancholy event takes place" Mr Collins thinks that Elizabeth's situation is so desperate that she will accept Mr Collins straightway, but he is wrong. ...read more.

Conclusion

Darcy made sure Wickham married Lydia, their marriage was nothing but a social cover up. It should also be noted, how Jane Austen never wrote about a conversation between two males alone separated from other women. Perhaps this is because it wasn't socially accepted that a woman was alone for a considerable period of time with a group of males, much different to life nowadays, when plenty of females have close bonds to men. Despite this, Pride and Prejudice was quite modern in its day. A hundred years previously, Mr Darcy would not have paid attention to Elizabeth, nor would Lady Catherine have taken to the trouble of going to Longbourne to meet Elizabeth. She would have summoned Elizabeth to Rosings instead. A few things have not changed since then, gays and lesbians were a taboo subject back then and the matter is still a sensitive subject to this day with a fair amount of people. A good example of how threatening homosexuality is to others can be seen in the film 'Heavenly creatures', where the families of two girls were sent into panic when they discovered that the girls were possibly in love with one another. It was deemed socially unacceptable, and thought of as a phase or a brief illness. That was the 1950's, but it is still not uncommon now. However, there is a stark contrast to what was acceptable two hundred years previously to what is acceptable now. For example, it is not shameful at all for two people who are courting to live together. The rules and laws have been relaxed a great deal in general, but Austen's masterpiece showed us what life was like to be living under them and the complications they bestowed. Hajira Bajwa S10 23.06.04 ...read more.

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