Essay on Jane Austen Impact on Society

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Austen explores the importance of status through many different aspects. These include wealth, marriage, and behavior. These aspects have large impacts on the characters and their futures.

The importance of status is shown through marriage. Austen shows the influence of marriage upon status when she says, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” This displays that wealth ensures status through marriage for both men and women. It is expected for men to have a stable income and through this, they can secure a wife. Therefore, they can be as idealistic in society as possible by having an exemplary lifestyle. Having a status as high as this can provide financial rewards, stability, and other numerous benefits in society. However, there are high expectations of men. Elizabeth emphasizes this about Wickham as she says, “He is trying to get a girl with only ten thousand pounds, you want to find out that he is mercenary.” Contrarily, women can marry for money, this is shown when Charlotte Lucas marries only for financial security. However, when a man like Wickham tries this, he is accused of being a “mercenary”, but it would also be seen as foolish for him to marry a poor woman when he was not of grand wealth, so he is almost viewed as undesirable. It was expected of men at the time to be the economic aid for the family, whilst the woman was simply there to increase the status of the gentleman. It showed the general public that he was in a relationship which meant that he was selfless because he was committed to providing for a wife and children. Charlotte’s choice of marrying for financial aid can be defended as she did not have much other choice, it was known that “Marriage had always been her object; it was the only provision for well-educated young women of small fortune.” Despite, being an educated woman, she had to marry to ensure that her family was secure as she was the eldest with the most responsibilities. Marriage was sometimes not seen as a personal choice, but a collective choice that had status benefits for multiple people, rather than just simply for personal happiness. It was more of a mutual agreement than an action of intimacy. Marriage can display a lifestyle that is profitable in society due to the respect shown by its reputation.

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The importance of status is explored through behavior. Austen displays how Elizabeth values alliances when she says, “I could easily forgive his pride if he had not mortified mine.” This exhibits the idea that forgiveness has terms and conditions. Elizabeth held a grudge against Darcy because of his attitude towards her. This could represent an idea of bad status. If you were a disagreeable person, you would have less likability in society. Wickham also talks of changes in behavior when he says, “His pride never deserts him; but with the rich, he is liberal-minded, just, sincere, rational, honorable, and perhaps agreeable, — allowing something for fortune and figure.” This indicates that to increase status, some may only display pleasant attitudes towards those who could influence their status in a positive light. Whereas, they may act more maliciously towards those of a lower class. Wickham emphasised to Elizabeth that Darcy found himself to be superior, he was not one to hide his true feelings, but he may adapt them for certain benefits. Behavior influences status because it can cause impressions to change of others, which can decrease your status. Status is not only about one’s wealth but also their nature, mannerisms, character, and identity.

The importance of status is displayed through wealth. It was believed that wealth had multiple influences on a person’s status. Wickham explores this when he says, “ She has the reputation of being remarkably sensible and clever, but I rather believe she derives part of her abilities from her rank and fortune.” He was telling Elizabeth that Lady Catherine was granted her education and manners through wealth. Without her status being built entirely upon wealth, she would not have been the haughty woman that she was. Wealth is also shown as entirely individual. Darcy had great wealth, but it did not cover his personality as shown in, “Not all his large estate in Derbyshire could then save him from having a most forbidding, disagreeable countenance.” As a man, he was expected to have almost all qualities, as it were. Although he was rich, he was expected to have manners to be likable in the community. This is not a quality necessarily needed for marriage though, unless he was to marry someone like Elizabeth who cared highly for manners and love, but not so much for wealth. Wealth overall has a large influence on status as it could bring many benefits, but other qualities are also important.

Generally, status is reliant upon many different aspects. The main aspect is; wealth. However, it is not an obligation for everyone as women can marry for money, but a wealthy man’s status is also based upon his attitudes and character, as being all-rounded shows flexibility of talent which can gain lots of respect within society.

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Essay on Jane Austen Impact on Society. (2024, February 23). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 15, 2024, from
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