Pride and Prejudice

Class and Status in Pride and Prejudice

While the novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen does not openly display Marx's idea of the oppressed and the oppressor, it does clearly demonstrate Marx's ideas of society as a history of class struggle. Austen portrays class divisions and struggles through the relationships between the characters in the novel, chiefly the relationship between Darcy and Elizabeth. When subjected to a Marxist reading, Pride and Prejudice reflects how relationships were determined by wealth and class status in pre-industrial England. Subsequently the novel also displays the emergence of the bourgeoisie (the Gardiners) and how they affect class relations.

Although Pride and Prejudice was written before the bourgeoisie become the dominant class of the western world, the industrial revolution had already begun and so had the emergence of this social class. Therefore the principle of personal worth being decided by 'exchange value' (p. 82 The Communist Manifesto) can still be read in the novel and Marx's criticism of the bourgeoisie can still be applied. It was obvious from the novel's orientation that relationships were determined by a character's 'exchange value' or in other words, their wealth and social...

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