Pride and Prejudice, written by Jane Austen, is one of the most influential classic novels in 19th century. It tells a story about marriages struggling between reputation and class, surrounding the two good-looking youths — Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. Elizabeth, the protagonist, who was quick-witted but headstrong, represented prejudice; while Darcy, who was wealthy but proud, represented pride. Due to their strong characters, they experienced a period filled with misunderstandings whereas ending in happiness.
During the extended Regency period in English history, in which the novel was written, English manners were stylish elegance, excess and severely polished.① The social milieu of Austen’s Regency England was particularly stratified, and class divisions were rooted in family connections and wealth. Through this novel, Austen suggested that true love was a force separated from society and one that could conquer even the most difficult of circumstances.
As far as I’m concerned, Austen didn’t deny the importance of money. Otherwise, she wouldn’t let the two Bennet sisters — Jane and Elizabeth, who both owned not even a penny, marry the two extremely wealthy gentlemen — Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy. After all, whether at that time or at present, men cannot live without bread and women cannot have freedom without their own money. What she stressed was that the status of money wasn’t expected to be higher than the one of the true love.
Therefore, that means though bread is needful, yet true love is more valuable. There are two typical examples to show how high the status of true love in Elizabeth’s heart. One is her firm refusal to Mr. Collins’ proposal. In spite of the possibility of losing her family’s estate, she thought now that there wasn’t true love between her and Mr. Collins, and then they oughtn’t to be together. This formed a striking contrast with Charlotte’s desperate and cunning endeavor to achieve Mr. Collins’ proposal. Another is her attitude towards her aunt Mrs. Gardiner’s persuasion. Since Mr. Wickham didn’t have a fortune, Mrs. Gardiner reminded her that it was inappropriate to have a relationship with him. She clearly stated her opinion, and that was, when affection actually and really came, it shouldn’t be withheld because of a lack of fortune. Whether two persons should have relationship with each other was depended on how they felt about each other.
Speaking of Austen’s descriptions about class, they reflect the strictly restrained life for the middle and upper classes in Regency England. At that time, class-consciousness was shared among most people. Austen satirized it, particularly…