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Notes on Pride and Prejudice Themes

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Pride and Prejudice Topic Tracking: Status

Volume 1, Chapter 1

Status 1: Social status is an important part of 19th Century English society, and the Bennets are no different from any other family in their attempts to improve their social status, or at least to give the impression that they are high society. Mrs. Bennet's obsession with marrying her daughters off to wealthy men is a part of this absorption with social status.

Volume 1, Chapter 3

Status 2: Mr. Darcy's wealth and handsomeness make him a likely target for all single women, except that he is snobby and unapproachable. A marriage to him would greatly improve the social status of any family in the Bennet's neighborhood, but because Darcy is so rude, no one even considers the idea of pairing their daughter with him. His social status makes him seem out of reach.

Volume 1, Chapter 4

Status 3: Jane's attraction to Bingley has nothing to do with his money and everything to do with his personality. At the same time, Bingley is not stuck up or rude to Jane or her family because they are not as wealthy as he is. Just as Jane does not like Bingley for his social status, he does not dislike her because of her lack of social standing.

Volume 1, Chapter 6

Status 4: Miss Bingley is interested in landing the wealthy Mr. Darcy, so she uses every opportunity she has to point out what they have in common. She tries to get him to talk about how dull and unworthy the people and entertainment of Elizabeth's neighborhood are, but he no longer agrees with her. She expects that their common social status will be a common ground from which she and Darcy can build a romantic relationship.

Volume 1, Chapter 7

Status 5: A woman's status at this time depended solely upon the men in her life -- her guardian, be it father, brother, or husband, determined her social position. Therefore, Mrs. Bennet's concern that she and her daughters will be homeless and penniless if none of them marry well is not so silly as it seems.

Volume 1, Chapter 8

Status 6: Social status played an important part in the kind of husband that a woman could get because it determined the social circles that a person moved in. Because the Bennet girls do not have any relatives who are extremely rich or important, they will not be able to meet very wealthy men. Therefore, they will be forced to marry men of their own upper-middle class standing. Miss Bingley means this to be an insult and to make Darcy realize that Elizabeth is socially beneath him so that Darcy will lose interest in Elizabeth and pay attention to her, a girl who is in his social circle. It doesn't work.

Volume 2, Chapter 10

Status 7: Elizabeth believes that Darcy steered Bingley away from Jane because the Bennets are not a wealthy family. She thinks that status is more important to these men than love, and she despises them for it.

Volume 3, Chapter 14

Status 8: Lady De Bourgh sees a marriage between Elizabeth and Darcy as a drastic mistake because it is between two people of different social classes and financial status. Although Lady De Bourgh seemed to like Elizabeth well enough when they met, she is not pleased that her nephew, whom she intended would marry her own daughter and increase the fortunes of both parties, is now interested in a middle class girl like Elizabeth.

Volume 3, Chapter 15

Status 9: Even Elizabeth's own father finds the idea of a match between the well-monied Darcy and Elizabeth ridiculous.

Volume 3, Chapter 17

Status 10: Mrs. Bennet hates Darcy for his wealth and pride until it comes to light that he will be her son-in-law. That means a change in status for the Bennet family, and so Mrs. Bennet is now very pleased with Darcy because of the wealth and privilege he will bring to her family as a relative.

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