In Jane Austen’s book Pride and Prejudice, she presents Elizabeth Bennett as a modern woman that rejects the 19th Century’s societal. The author has shown three fundamental aspects throughout the book and movie which are- Love, Reputation and Class. And all the three aspects are connected to conceptualizing Jane Austen’s views on love and Marriage in the 19th century era.
In the book Pride and Prejudice, the author Jane Austen presents one of the concepts which is Love. Love can teach important lessons, change life forever, and nurture meaningful relationships. In the book, the courtship between Darcy and Elizabeth has shown different sides of a society and how society has perspectives towards love that also has been presented. In the beginning, Darcy’s pride makes him misjudge Elizabeth. For example, in the book Darcy says to Mr. Bingley when he asks Mr. Darcy to dance with one of the daughters, Elizabeth, of Mr. Bennet, Mr. Darcy says “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humor at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men” (Volume 1 chapter 3). Here, Mr. Darcy has shown his pride towards Elizabeth which he could have easily ignored and created a good impression. On the other hand, Elizabeth also misjudges Mr. Darcy on the first impression which leaves a point that both Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth are the victim of pride.
Meanwhile, Jane Austen has shown that between love and affection there will be many obstacles which realizes Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy that society has other side of the story where love always does not take place. For instances, society has shown us that not every time it is necessary to have social connections; such as, Lady Catherine tries to control her nephew, Miss Bingley elopes, and Mrs. Bennet’s stupidity. Austen has viewed that love is something independent of these social forces where if anyone is able to go beyond the social expectations.
On the other hand, in the end of the novel, when Elizabeth accepts the proposal of Mr. Darcy’s to marry, Elizabeth goes to her father, Mr. Bennet, to ask permission. Austen has depicted that Mr. Bennet cares for her daughter’s life as he always thinks Elizabeth is intelligent one among his other daughters. Throughout the book, Austen has viewed that Mr. Bennet is not quite happy with his own marriage which makes him feel that his daughters should not feel the same way. Mr. Bennet wants his daughter’s life as she wants to have which separates his thought from the society where his own wife Mrs. Bennet thinks the other way.
Austen has also shown some realistic views of the society that love does not always dictate marriage. One the character has faced the situation is Elizabeth’s friend, Charlotte Lucas who marries the buffoon Mr. Collins only for his money. When Elizabeth finds out that Charlotte is marrying Mr. Collins, she was shocked with the match and she believes marriage should be a union of two loving people and a lasting emotional situation. But Charlotte’s point of view is different. She says to Elizabeth in that book, “I see what you are feeling, replied Charlotte, - “you must be surprised, very much surprised, - so lately as Mr. Collins was wishing to marry you. But when you have hard time to think it all over, I hope you will be satisfied with what I have done. I am not romantic you know. I never was. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr. Collin’s character, connections, and situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is fair, as most people can boast on entering the marriage state” (Volume 1 chapter 22). Charlotte’s view is that she will marry Collins because she needs to hold her situation financially and socially, and not because of any mutual feeling of love between them. She thinks that it is neither necessary nor beneficial to know some one well or to particularly like some one before you marry them.
In the book Pride and Prejudice, it depicts that a society in which a woman’s reputation is of the utmost importance which is one of the themes that Austen has presented. A woman is expected to behave in certain ways. This theme appears in the novel, when Elizabeth walks to Netherfield and arrives with muddy skirts, Miss Bingley and her friends get a shock of the reputation as Elizabeth doesn’t follow the social norms. Another example from the book where class and society norms are tied together is “she was shewn into the breakfast-parlour, where all but Jane were assembled, and where appearance created a great deal of surprise. – That she should have walked three miles so early in the day, in such dirty weather, and by herself, was almost incredible to Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley; and Elizabeth was convinced that they held her in contempt for it. She was received, however, very politely by them; and in their bother’s manners there was better than politeness; there was good humor and kindness. – Mr. Darcy said very little, and Mr. Hurst nothing at all. The former was divided between admiration of brilliancy which exercise had given to her complexion and doubt as to the occasion’s justifying her coming so far alone” (volume I chapter 7). This following explains that Elizabeth is worried about Jane has no carriage, she was walking alone to muddy fields through Netherfield. And this such behaviour is considered to the society “not a lady like”. Bingley sisters describe Elizabeth as dirty and unbelievable. On the other hand, Bingley women treated Elizabeth very politely despite knowing she was not following the social norm. Mr. Darcy was having mixed reaction which was well described in the book as well as in the movie his feeling towards Elizabeth. His doubt was showing that Elizabeth should not fit in the social expectations. He could not feel it but help admiring for Elizabeth as a person.
Class is the target of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice which is a criticism of society in general. Austen makes it clear that people like Lady Catherine who are overly invested in their social position, are guilty of mistreating other people. The theme of class is related to reputation where the lines of class are strictly drawn. While the Bennets, who are middle class, may socialize with the upper-class Bingleys and Darcys, they are clearly their social inferiors and are treated as such. Though Mr. Collins offers an extreme example, he is not the only one to hold such views. Austen does seem to respect the class system in a few ways, especially when it operates not as a dividing power in society, but as a force for virtue and decency. Mr. Darcy is the primary example of Austen's ideal high-class gentleman. Though originally, he seems to be an arrogant and selfish snob, as the novel progresses it becomes clear that he is capable of change. Through the Darcy-Elizabeth and Bingley-Jane marriages, Austen shows the power of love and happiness to overcome class boundaries and prejudices, but what if the marriages did not happen. On the other hand, Mr. Darcy helps Wickham when he elopes with Lydia. With the help of money from Mr. Darcy, Wickham has agreed to marry Lydia which has surprised Elizabeth and changed her perspective towards Mr. Darcy. If Mr. Darcy does not help them, will Elizabeth’s perspective change? Austen has shown a very happy ending but what if Elizabeth has chosen not to marry Mr. Darcy and choose to stay alone. How Mrs. Bennet will react? Will Mr. Bennet accept that? What about the society’s expectation? Jane Austen has ended the novel with questions.