Social Class in 'Pride and Prejudice'



hi everybody and welcome to this video the continuation in my series on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice everything you see in this video comes from mr. bluffs guide to Pride and Prejudice for three pounds ninety-nine you get the complete original text and then my detailed analysis exclusively at mr. broth comm so I'm going to talk about social class in this video but the first thing to say is that the three different class distinctions of working-class middle-class and upper-class really aren't all represented in the text it's often been a criticism of Jane Austen that the working class really have no part to play in her novels and now for the sake of this video let me just explain in the time that Austen was writing the working class but really the normal working people the servants the shop workers the factory workers those kinds of people the middle class were people who had worked and made themselves rich and successful often merchants and they were below the upper classes in that they had not been born into that group but they were above the working class too and this class includes the educated professionals such as doctors teachers lawyers and in Pride and Prejudice it would include mr. Bingley which might come as a shock but Bingley is not upper-class his family made its money and trade and he's very rich but there's no aristocracy in the family line the upper-class were born into their class and inherited their money it was impossible to work your way into the upper class from the middle class they were the landed gentry those people who owned land in the forms of country estates to such an extent that they were not required to work except in an administrative capacity on their own lands now mr. Bennet is a low-level member of the landed gentry owned in the estate of Longbourn which produces an income of two thousand pounds a year and of course Lady Catherine de Bourg is at the top of the tree she represents the aristocracy next is Darcy owner of Pemberley and son of a titled mother and untitled father his yearly income is thousand now the novel is set at a time when the class system was under attack the Industrial Revolution have actually allowed many people to become so rich and successful that they sought the lifestyle of the upper classes however the upper classes were fiercely defensive over their superiority and we see an example of that when mr. darcy says about elizabeth really believed that were it not for the inferiority of her connections he should be in some danger in other words you know she wasn't such a socially below him you know he might find himself falling in love with here with her now this may seem bizarre as elizabeth is still a member of the upper class but the Bennett's were at the lowest end of that group and are therefore looked down upon mr. Bennett is an upper-class gentleman who married a lawyer's daughter and when Lady Catherine criticizes Elizabeth's family Elizabeth replies let me remind you that I am also the daughter of a gentleman and Lady Catherine's reply is yes but what about your mother which indicates that the whole family status was lowered when mr. Bennet married a middle class wife now if we consider Miss Bingley who criticizes the Bennets company when she exclaims you are considering how insupportable it would be to pass many evenings in this manner in such society and indeed I am quite of your opinion I was never more annoyed the insipidity and yet the noise the nothingness and yet the self-importance of all these people it seems that miss Bingley's notion of class represents the change in society basing status more on the wealth and social circles one moves in and similarly Miss Bingley seems to base much importance on the fact that she lives in the city and can often be found criticizing country life of course when Jane is sick the Bingley sisters wish to send for a doctor from the city because they are convinced that no country advice could be of any service and Darcy is equally critical of country life in chapter 9 where he argues in a country neighbourhood you move in a very confined mind and varying society this is another clue in the puzzle not only is wealth seen as new and important indicators of class the geographical location of a person is also key Austin presents a complex view of a fractured society that struggles to define itself however one thing is clear in the marriage between Darcy and Elizabeth Austin is telling the reader that class and social status is irrelevant in the light of true love the higher classes though did not escape criticism perhaps a great indication of the change which mr. Darcy is going through is presented in his disgust at Lady Catherine's rudeness to Elizabeth in chapter 31 Darcy is described it looked a little ashamed of his aunt's ill-breeding and here we see an open criticism of the ignorance and rudeness which is exhibited by Lady Catherine and the fact that the criticism sorry the fact who something in my throat here the fact that the criticism comes from Darcy makes it all the more powerful in chapter 58 he reflects on his own childhood and he admits and this is shocking really that he was raised to think meanly of all the rest of the world so Austin uses Darcy's character to criticize the actions of the higher classes were behaving in a snobbish manner and Austen's personal anger are being rejected by the family of her lover on the basis of class which we talked about in a previous video on biography shines through here in her novel well I hope you found this useful please do pick up a copy of the e-book and subscribe to the channel if you haven't already done so




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