Pride and Prejudice

The Fragile Balance Between Financial Security and Happiness 12th Grade

To what extent is social class and wealth perverting to judgment? Jane Austen’s 19th century novel Pride and Prejudice explores the precarious theme of social standing to create an ironic depiction of its relation to love and happiness. Rather than describing her characters in detail, Austen utilizes “showing” rather than “telling” through dialogue to fully reveal their personalities. With irony as her guide, the author sardonically creates a paradigm revealing the connection of social class and reputation to courtship and marriage. Specifically, the relationship of class to marriage is a central concept depicted differently in the relationships of Jane Bennet and Mr. Bingley, Mr. Collins and Charlotte, and Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy.

First, the value of social class is pivotal in the relationship of Jane Bennet and Mr. Bingley. Originally, the Bennets’ bourgeois status is unobtrusive to Mr. Bingley’s opinion of Jane. His initial reaction to meeting the Bennets at the ball is characterized by auspiciousness: “Bingley had never met with pleasanter people or prettier girls in his life…he had soon been acquainted with all the room; and as to Miss Bennet, he could not conceive an angel more beautiful” (Austen 14). An amiable...

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