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Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Regency Period. Middle class gained social status; known as landed gentry Profits from Industrial Revolution and expanding colonial system Strived to align themselves with England’s landed aristocracy

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Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

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  1. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

  2. Regency Period • Middle class gained social status; known as landed gentry • Profits from Industrial Revolution and expanding colonial system • Strived to align themselves with England’s landed aristocracy • Purchased estates and country homes to rival aristocratic mansions • Newly acquired wealth and possessions

  3. Austen’s Novels • Privileged circle of England’s landed gentry and aristocracy • Upper class was old hereditary aristocracy and the new landed gentry who came into money through commercial enterprise and ascended from the middle class • Upper class did not work and frequently employed farmers to work their land • Upper class controlled England’s politics

  4. Austen’s HouseChawton • The house where Jane Austen lived and wrote most of her novels; a pleasant seventeenth century house in the pretty village of Chawton in Hampshire not far from her birthplace of Steventon.

  5. Mr. Darcy • Darcy is representative of hereditary aristocracy • Wealthy landowner who does not have to work for a living • Employs workers to farm his land, surrounding families depend on his patronage

  6. The Bingleys • Bingleys represent the new landed gentry • Bingley’s father acquired wealth through trade, gave up his business, and moved his family to the country • He and his sisters are now considered upper class

  7. The Bennets • Bennets own land, but they are a middle-class family • Longbourn House in Hertfordshire – 2,000 per year • Must work to cultivate land • Few servants and limited financial resources

  8. Women, Patriarchy and Property Rights • Women had few legal rights • Depend on men for protection and survival • Women could not own property (they were considered property) • Depended on fathers to “give them away” to a lucrative marriage • At death, property went to another male heir • Finding a husband was a necessity not a social preoccupation

  9. Women, Patriarchy and Property Rights • “Entailment” determined how property would be passed through several generations within a family; usually closest male relative • Lady Catherine DeBourgh, patroness of Rosings Park, is a rare example of an independent woman who inherits the estate of her father.

  10. Theme of Social Class and Lack of Mobility • Conflict that arises when members of middle class, such as Bennets, mingle socially with members of the upper classes, represented by Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley. • Austen was critical of the social barrier between middle and upper class (while remaining silent about members of lower class) • Elizabeth Bennet breaks class barrier

  11. Theme of Marriage and Family • Future of Bennet’s daughters depends on successful union with suitable husbands • Women often forced into marital unions purely out of financial necessity • New ideal of marriage and partnership based on mutual respect and love • Expectation of social network above individual desire for privacy • Family’s reputation was tied to reputation of each individual member

  12. Theme of Propriety, Social Decorum, and Reputation • Person’s value depends on respect of friends and neighbors • Woman who engaged in inappropriate behavior with a man prior to marriage was morally corrupt. No virtue = social outcast • Elizabeth values personal worth and individual character over reputation and status • Standards of proper social etiquette

  13. First Impressions • Original title of P & P • Premature preconceptions complicate the relationships between characters • Both characters must set aside their pride and prejudice and form an opinion based on respect and cordial friendship • Error in judgment with Wickham who creates a bad image of Darcy • Must look beneath the surface of a person’s character

  14. Satire • Humor or with in order to criticize or ridicule a particular person or group • Disguise criticism of an intended target by clothing it in humorous language, funny characterizations, and sarcasm • Austen satirizes Mrs. Bennet and her need to marry her daughters; also Mr. Collins’ high opinion of himself which often makes him the laughingstock of society

  15. Free Indirect Discourse • Narrative style known as “free indirect discourse” • Third-person perspective to convey ideas and thoughts from point of view of a particular character usually the heroine. • Hard to determine objectivity of ideas • Precursor of “stream of consciousness”

  16. Comedy of Manners • Uses elements of Satire to ridicule or expose behaviors, manners, flaws, and morals of members of the middle or upper classes. • Incorporate love affairs, witty and comical exchanges between characters, and the humorous revelation of societal scandals and intrigues • Witty banter between characters

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