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“Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover”AnonymousPride and Prejudice: Jane Austen’s Critique on SocietyBy: Amanda JonesCourse: English 1000 Section JT.A.: Anthony DonnellyDate: December 4th2008
It has always been in human nature to judge an individual upon meeting them. During the Victorian time period class defined who one was. This judgement based upon class was prevalent throughout Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice. Characters within the novel judged their peers based on their class which they further defined through the judgement of a character’s: education, acquaintances, money and physical appearance. However, through the analysis of the text it can be determined that Austen is in fact criticizing these traditional judgements through the relationships within the novel. At the end of the novel the marriages which appear to be the strongest are the relationships that have overcome their partner’s “weaknesses” within society. The level of education which a character acquired was important in Pride and Prejudice because it showed that the character had the time and money to spend on an education. Miss Bingley describes the general view on education within the society, “no one can be really esteemed accomplished who does not greatly surpass what is usually met with. A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages to deserve the word” (Austen, 39). This comment is being directed towards Elizabeth who did not have knowledge in these subjects. In revealing this information Miss Bingley hoped she would seem more desirable to Mr. Darcy who showed his preference for an educated woman. Lady Catherine who some would say encompasses the traditional Victorian woman also criticized Elizabeth because of her lack of education. After Elizabeth told Lady Catherine that neither she nor her sisters had a governess Lady Catherine replied, “Then, who taught you? Who attended to you? Without a governess, you must have been neglected” (Austen, 172). Once again it is shown that without an education one is considered less of a person within society. However, Austen critiques this thought through the relationship between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. During his proposal to Elizabeth Mr. Darcy explained, “In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings
will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you” (Austen, 196). Mr. Darcy admitted that he needed to overcome her inferiority to be with her but