Class consciousness plays a large role in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Is Austen's approach conservative considering the times?
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Ultimately, Pride and Prejudice takes a moderate stance on class differences. Austen never posits an egalitarian ideology. However, she does criticize the society's over-emphasis on class instead of individual moral character. Darcy's journey from extreme class-consciousness to prioritizing manners over money is the best example of Austen's criticism. Meanwhile, Elizabeth is affected upon visiting Pemberley. The grand estate does have an impact on her already changing feelings towards Darcy, which is one example of Austen justifying the appeal of the upper class. Overall, Austen accepts (and even appreciates) the existence of class hierarchy, but also offers a warning about how class-based prejudice can poison society.