My A to Z of Pride and Prejudice – Letter C

A2Z-Pride-and-Prejudice

The April A to Z Blogging Challenge  is a month long event where I, and more than 2000 other bloggers, will post every day of the month (except Sundays) using a different letter of alphabet. The theme of my posts will be “What I Love About Pride and Prejudice.” Click the link above or the A to Z badge in my sidebar to visit other participants.

CC is for Class

“They are descended, on the maternal side, from the same noble line; and, on the father’s, from respectable, honourable, and ancient — though untitled — families. Their fortune on both sides is splendid. They are destined for each other by the voice of every member of their respective houses; and what is to divide them? The upstart pretensions of a young woman without family, connections, or fortune. Is this to be endured! But it must not, shall not be. If you were sensible of your own good, you would not wish to quit the sphere in which you have been brought up.”   Jane Austen  – Pride & Prejudice

Please don’t think I’m in love with the class system of the Regency Period. There’s nothing further from the truth. I’m thrilled that it’s antiquated and hope it never rears its ugly head again.

So what is it about class that I’ve found to love? Well, I love the way Jane Austen used the standards of her time, what she knew best, to play her characters off of each other. I always enjoy great conflict in a story and Pride & Prejudice uses the Social Class structure of the time to its advantage. The degrees of separation between the classes are the backbone on which the plot and sub-plots rest. It’s what drives the tension filled romance.

regency-life2

Still from BBC’s Regency Life: 3 Lives in 1 Day

The Bennet family is considered landed gentry. They do not work or tend their own land. Mr. Bennet is a gentleman whose estate, Longbourn, earns at least 2,000 pounds a year. This isn’t a large sum, even during the 19th century in Great Britain and especially when they have five children to support, but it still means that Elizabeth and all her sisters are considered part of the upper class. They are a gentleman’s daughters, even though their mother was born into the trade class (as the daughter of an attorney…oh how times have changed).

Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy is also of the upper class, but with more distinction. He owns a large estate called Pemberly that earns him 10,000 pounds a year. Beyond that, his mother came from an aristocratic family. His aunt, the sister to his mother, Lady Catherine de Bourgh boasts of it and uses this standing to bully others.

While the Bingley’s are wealthy, the money that they have inherited came from trade. They do not own property, though it is mentioned that Charles, Louisa and Caroline’s father meant to buy an estate before he died. This actually makes them middle class; beneath Elizabeth and her family in social status. The irony is that Caroline and Louisa make fun of Mrs. Bennet and her connections when they come from a similar background.

Still from BBC's Regency Life: 3 Lives in 1 Day

Still from BBC’s Regency Life: 3 Lives in 1 Day

If it weren’t for the social class order in Britain during Austen’s day, the story wouldn’t have taken the turns that it did. Mr. Darcy wouldn’t have looked down on Elizabeth because of her connections and money. She wouldn’t have been turned against him because of his arrogance. It would have just been another story of boy meets girl. The division of the classes is what kept the tension between Elizabeth and Darcy going. It is also one of the things that makes the story enjoyable to read.

(PSSST!…..Do you want to read the story told from the view point of the Bennet family servants? Check out Longbourn by Jo Baker. You’ll get to see what the scullery maid thinks of Elizabeth walking through the mud to visit her sick sister).

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Categories: Book Recommendations, Thoughts, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

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21 thoughts on “My A to Z of Pride and Prejudice – Letter C

  1. What a great post! And such an awesome topic for the challenge 🙂

  2. Love this idea! I can’t wait to read the rest throughout April!

    • Oh thank you 23summerd (I’m curious about your user name…).
      I hope you’ll enjoy them all. Tomorrow is D, so I bet you know what (or WHO) that means.

      • Haha! Oh yaaaay! Can’t wait! And my username is actually pretty straightforward. My name is Summer Daily (yes, my real name) and 23 is my favorite number. : )

  3. I so love your A-Z theme. I could read about P&P all day 🙂

  4. Class can certainly create conflict, and it’s a historical reality–well, a present one, too! Thanks for your post!

    • I know. There is always going to be the people held down by others. It’s a shame.

      I’m glad so many authors focus on the injustices in the world.

      Thanks for your comment!

  5. Class can still be quite an obstacle here in the South, but you are absolutely spot on, without some of the class conflicts, how would that of changed the entire storyline?

  6. greyzoned/angelsbark

    I LOVE your theme!! and I love Pride & Prejudice! Really great post. Took me back to the whole story and for a brief trip out of my own time. Thanks!

    • I’m so glad you like it. I hope you’ll come back tomorrow for letter D (I bet you know who D stands for from Pride and Prejudice).

  7. Yes, the class system in Britain does help create tension in stories. Yet I dare to admit that it is the thing that prevents me from reading through Regencies. I just can’t seem to warm up to landed gentry and their ‘problems’. I know–I am weird. The paranormal of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings doesn’t do it for me either. I recognize the brilliance behind the writing. Thank heavens we are not all drawne to the same genres,lol. (Did I just shoot myself in the foot?)

    Give me a contemporary story any day–not the violent cop and autopsy dramas so popular, but something uplifting, educational, inspiring. I can watch the news if I want downer ‘reality’. Must be why I like the romance genre overall. Positive endings where good overcomes.

    Great theme that will appeal to the hordes that love Regency!

    • I love a good contemporary romance too, but it has to have that conflict. Some tension between our leads. If they fall in love to quickly I just move on to the next story. I want to fear, even when I KNOW they will get together, that they may never quite connect.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  8. Quite the classy post. 😉

    I agree, the class does add conflict. And I also agree that’s not the way it is in modern day.

  9. Liz Blocker

    Oh, Lady Catherine! That’s a great quote, and so perfect for this post. You’re right; there’s not much to love about the class system, but we CAN love how skillfully Austin uses it in her work.

  10. I think every student of English Lit. would be well-served to follow all twenty-six of your posts. This was a very thorough examination of the topic of class, as a literary device. Admittedly, I am not a big fan of these period pieces but, I respect the passion you have for this book. We all have our favourites, being book lovers, after all. 🙂 Good post. Thanks for sharing.

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