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Social, historical and cultural contexts - Pre-1914 Prose - 'Pride and Prejudice'

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English Literature Coursework - Social, historical and cultural contexts Pre-1914 Prose - 'Pride and Prejudice' Introduction: In Pride and Prejudice we see the ups and downs of many different relationships and the growing obsession of Mrs Bennet to get her five daughters married to wealthy handsome young men. The novel is based on love, with marriage resulting in some cases. In the 19th century there weren't many positions for work for middle or upper class women, so marriage occurred in many of their lives, resulting in a 'full time job' of cleaning, cooking and looking after the children. This time was very different to today, as women still have all these jobs to do, but it is getting increasingly common for men to do them as well, leaving women with time to work. Women could only have their own house if they got married, and no other way. As women who didn't marry didn't have their own home, they had to remain under the authority of their dad or a male relative. If women had any money or possessions, they became the property of their husbands when they married. Divorce was very much frowned upon and so almost never happened, and engagements were very rarely broken off. ...read more.


This use of irony makes us see a more serious side to him, as other times in the book, his use of irony has been quite funny. Throughout the book, Austen doesn't comment much on what Lizzy looks like, only that she is pretty and has "dark eyes". Also, we hear Caroline Bingley say she has "no beauty". A good quote that sums up Lizzy is, "Her wit and vivacity will be acceptable to Lady Catherine when tempered with silence and respect", said by Mr. Collins. This means that although he loves the fact that she is so lively and funny, she would also need to be quiet and respectful at times for Lady Catherine to like her. The second person I am going to talk about is Mrs Bennet, on of the liveliest characters in the story. The marriage between Mrs Bennet and her husband plays a big part in the novel, and is regularly mentioned and referred to. Her main purpose in life is to see all five of her daughters settled down and married. We can see this when three of them are all married (Jane, Lydia and Elizabeth), she is so happy and excited. We see two extremes to Mrs Bennet:- one of depression, thinking none of her daughters will end up married, and one of such happiness, when three of them get married! ...read more.


The marriage between Jane and Bingley is very different to that of Lizzy and Darcy. Jane and Bingley are very much the same: they like dancing and going to parties. However, Lizzy and Darcy are very different. This is a case where opposites attract. Mr. Bennet is pleased with the engagement of Jane and Bingley, whereas, he is concerned that Lizzy is making a mistake by marrying Darcy. He talks of his own experiences to her when he says "unable to respect your partner in life". Conclusion: Overall, this story is based entirely upon courting and marriage. After all, the opening quotation tells you this - "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife". This immediately tells us that the story is based upon marriage and settling down. Many of Jane Austen's novels and about marriage and she saw that men provided for their wives and family, which left women little opportunity to provide for themselves. Marriage gave women security and responsibility but also took away their freedom and independence. The original title of the book 'First Impressions' says a lot about what the story is about as well. It is based a lot upon people's first impressions of people. For example Elizabeth's first impressions of Darcy are that he is rude, quiet and snobbish, whereas Jane's first impressions of Bingley are that he is handsome, kind and sweet. ...read more.

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