4 May 2015
The Significance of Social Class and Status in
Pride and Prejudice
A. General topic Throughout history, social class has often served as a barrier that separates people.
B. This is evident in the novel
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.
C. Through characterization and conflict, Austen depicts a theme of social class and its th importance in 19 century Europe.
II. First Body Paragraph
A. Topic Sentence One way social class affects life is by causing prejudice, as the upper classes often think they are better than the others.
B. First point An instance of this is when Darcy refuses to speak to anyone at the
Netherfield ball. His manners are poor, and he is blatantly disapproving of everything.
C. Evidence When Bingley points Darcy to Elizabeth and asks what he thinks, he retorts,
“She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me” (13).
D. Double C Literary critic David Monaghan discusses this, stating, “Darcy believes that anyone connected with trade must be vulgar and unworthy of respect” (57).
E. Darcy unfairly makes judgements on people based on their class. He essentially says
Elizabeth isn’t good enough for him.
F. Another character that discriminates based on class is Caroline, Bingley’s sister. She sends a letter to Elizabeth with a message intended to make her feel inferior because of their status.
G. After reading the letter Elizabeth explains to Jane, “We are not rich or grand enough for them [The Bingleys]” (114).
H. Carolines letter is filled with conceit and Elizabeth clearly understands that she thinks the
Bennet’s aren’t rich enough to marry into their family.
I. A final character expresses this idea is Lady Catherine. She visits Longbourn to tell
Elizabeth to stay away from Darcy because of her lower class.
J. “Mr Darcy is engaged to my daughter . . . in their cradles we [his mother and I] planned the union; and now, at the moment when the wishes of both sisters would be accomplished in their marriage, to be prevented by a young woman of inferior birth, of no importance, and wholly unallied to the family!” Lady Catherine exclaims.
K. Lady Catherine believes that Elizabeth is scum from a lower class getting in the way of her plans.
L. Through Austen’s characters, prejudice between the classes is extremely obvious.
II. Second body Paragraph
A. Another way the importance of class is depicted is through its role in marriage.
B. One example of this is in Collins’ proposal to Elizabeth. When she rejects him, he tries using his status to convince her to change her mind.
C. “My situation in life, my connections with the family de Bourgh, and my relationship to your own, are circumstances highly in my favor; and you should take into consideration that . . . it is by no means certain that another offer of marriage may ever be made to you,” he insists (179)
D. Collins focuses on his position when he tries to convince Elizabeth to