Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice Characters and Social Expectations

1861 Words4 Pages

England, under James 1st rule was a vastly altered period compared to our now modern society. So many of the values held during this time, have now been discarded and forgotten. Jane Austen grew up in the Romantic period and experienced a world which was divided, whether through education, class, status, fashion, abilities, gender and etiquette. Her novel, Pride and Prejudice is counted as one of the great classics of English Literature. Austen engrosses readers to live in her world for a time and experience a society filled with matchmaking, romance, marriage and gossip. Every one of her characters is so distinctive and has a clearly outlined caricature. Each of their diverse values conveys a different thinking of the time. Pride and Prejudice is preoccupied with the gentry and most of the social aspects which consumed these people’s lives. There were so many expectations of how you would behave in public, but of course not all of these were upheld. Elizabeth Bennet, Mr Darcy, Mrs Bennet and Charlotte Lucas are four characters which keep such strong beliefs about the social norms. These characters are expressed so descriptively and through their personalities readers can learn just how the numerous social standards were received.

The female heroine, whose eyes most of the third person omniscient novel is seen through is Elizabeth Bennet. While she accepts and acknowledges many of the social expectations, especially manners, others she challenges profusely. Jane Austen is most likely channelling her views through this character and commenting on the lifestyle and values she was brought up with. One of the reasons Mr Darcy falls in love with Elizabeth is because she has an intelligence and openness of mind, ‘you were always dis...

... middle of paper ...

...ews of these ideologies. While Elizabeth does accept many of the norms of the period she also challenges the purpose for marriage and has an outspoken mind. Her confident personality doesn’t allow the fact that she has less wealth than many others and is constantly being scorned at to interfere with her happiness. She doesn’t permit the social expectations of her times to hinder her strong beliefs and fate in life. Pride and Prejudice is so vastly different to most other novels during the early 19th century that Jane Austen must have held some very alternative views. The heroine Elizabeth challenges the most social expectations of that time and she ends up the happiest of all the characters. This theme must have opened Romantic readers minds, perhaps to the way society should be and this I believe is why this novel is one of the great classics of English literature.

Open Document