Contextual Factors in Pride and Prejudice(TM) influence the characters. Do you agree?

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Contextual Factors in ‘Pride and Prejudice’ influence the characters. Do you agree?

There are many contextual factors in Pride and Prejudice that certainly influence the characters, in the way the characters behave and also in the way that they are viewed. A few of the main factors are money, marriage and the role of women and these can be seen as a few of the novel’s themes. However, these factors do not always influence all of the characters. I will explore the different contextual factors in the novel and come to the conclusion as to whether I agree with the statement.  

Money is a highly influential factor in Pride and Prejudice, so much so, that the narrator is very careful to give financial details of every character to ensure that the reader has an idea of the social standings of all the characters and their placement in society.

As the Bennet family and the Lucas family have less money, this means they are of a lower class than most of the other families in the book, for example the Darcys and the Bingleys. This means that the daughters in these families are less likely to be offered a proposal of marriage, as the classes tend not to mix and the possible crossing of social boundaries seems insurmountable. This can be shown in chapter 8, where Miss Bingley mock Elizabeth’s behaviour and her family. Miss Bingley begins by stating, “I have an excessive regard for Jane Bennet, she is really a very sweet girl,” to give the impression of being caring and thoughtful and continues to say, “I wish with all my heart she were well settled. But with such a father and mother and such low connections, I am afraid there is no chance of it.” In this quote, Miss Bingley conveys fact as an opinion which she uses to try and manipulate her brother’s views. By stating this, Miss Bingley shows that she feels Jane should not be allowed to wed Mr Bingley, as this would be crossing the social boundaries. This chapter also shows how Mr Bingley is not affected by money and the fact that Elizabeth has low connections, as this does not affect the way he perceives her. By stating that “it would not matter if they had uncles enough to fill all Cheapside, it would not make one of them one jot less agreeable,” it illustrates how Bingley is not swayed by other characters’ status or appearance.

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Money can also influence the appearance of characters on the surface, as when Mr Darcy is introduced in chapter 3, he is described as being very favourable, based only on his social standing and his financial status. The fact that Darcy earned ‘ten thousand a year’ meant that people looked at him “with great admiration for half the evening”. It is only when people explored his character that they found him to be “proud and above his company”, which allows the reader to see how money influences their perception of characters.

Elizabeth could be described as one of ...

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