Pride and Prejudice

The Influence of Society

In order to fully understand the meaning of a text, different approaches are used in analyzing or interpreting literature. When dealing with Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice, one approach that is particularly appropriate is the topical/historical approach, as it stresses the relationship between the novel and its historical setting. By understanding the world in which Austen lived, a better understanding of her novel and her characters can be reached. Through the character of Elizabeth Bennet, most importantly, Austen both could reveal her own feelings about her society and satirize the practices and beliefs held by the upper classes.

Although often considered a Victorian author, Jane Austen lived during the time of the Romantic Period, from 1775 to 1817. The era was turbulent. As Reidhead writes, "England experienced the ordeal of change from a primarily agricultural society, where wealth and power had been concentrated in the landholding aristocracy, to a modern industrial nation" (Reidhead 2). This was the beginning of what was called the "two nations"- the division between the rich and the poor in England (Reidhead 4). In terms of social structure, the Industrial Revolution "witnessed...

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