In the novel Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen demonstrates a simplistic society where people are judged from their wealth and upbringing rather than their character. What is not illustrated in the book is how to achieve this status of wealth. The easiest and only way described by Jane Austen in Pride and Prejudice was to be born or married into wealth in these times of regency England. An example of marrying into wealth would be Elizabeth Bennet and Mr.Darcy who at the time was making "Ten Thousand a year", also Mr.Darcy is a prime example of being born into wealth. Unfortunately this still leaving readers and myself with a thriving question of how do you make such a lump sum of money during regency times. To go more in depth about regency England era workers, people who had money didn't have work, due to their financial gains from land and rent. Characters resembling such fortunate situations where Mr.Darcy, Mr.Bingley, and Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Unlike modern day England economic opportunity advancement was not great in this era, meaning entrepreneurs did not have as much of a chance to change classes in society.
What is a class system: A class system is defined as " a system in which social status is largely determined by the family into which a person is born into". This chart suggests regency England to be broken into seven classes without the addition of the militia. The scale of classes are from extreme poverty to unimaginable wealth. In this era of time life wasn't fair you were mainly born into your family's role in society and had little to no economic opportunity for advancement. Therefore, suggesting marriage during these times were mostly in your class, but in some occasions women of beauty and intelligence would marry above their class. The poorest of the working class would be servants, craftsmen, and farm help. Typically both men and women could work these jobs, but mostly undesirable and very labor intensive. Next would be more respectable in society, but still low paying jobs such as shopkeepers, teachers, ship owners, and lawyers. Most of these jobs were mainly men. In except for teachers suggested in the text "governess" as Lady Catherine de Bourgh wanted to know about Elizabeth Bennet's background. Higher end middle class jobs consisted of Doctors, country Gentlemen, knights, and Bankers. All of these jobs were male oriented in the time era. The men of this class could afford to have their wife's stay at home. This represented by the text as the Bennet's family who owned their estate. Finally, we have the royal families, high officers, and large estate owners. This class being filled with all men, with an exception of Lady Catherine de Bourgh.
In this era of time as we can see men and women were not seen as an equal in society and in the text. Gender roles played a large part in the novel Pride and Prejudice, through examples such as the Bennets. In regency times Job opportunities for women where from far and few and of little desire. As discussed within the last within class systems, a woman's job was to be a housewife unless in extreme poverty. Although women were not forced to work in society, education was still of great value. The most basic of education was to read and write, but women of higher class had more opportunity with the arts such as drawing and the playing musical instruments. "If I had ever learnt, I should have been a great proficient" this quote comes from Lady Catherine de Bourgh who was amongst the highest in society suggesting music was part of a good education in this era.
The men of regency England had much more opportunity than women, but where still limited to their family's background in society. For Example in Pride and Prejudice to make 5,000 and 10,000 a year your family would almost all of the time make that in previous generations. Also for men its about the people you know and connections you have for example Mr.Collins sucking up to Lady Catherine De Bourgh. Men at the time where the only ones allowed to join the military, which provided even more opportunity for a job, such as Mr.Wickham. Men during this time either worked or didn't have to due to their inheritance. This suggests inequality in pay in the regency era and why many family households could have servants and governess from a males yearly pay alone.
Modern day England compared to the regency England era. Men and women have became more equal in society, but there still remains some indifference. Society is less about inheritance and family background. Wage pay is still not completely fair but it has become better over the century's. Women can also now serve in the military, offering more opportunity for jobs. England's Currency has remained in the same form, but increased through inflation. An interesting fact is that Mr.Darcy in a modern day England would now make "331,000 a year" instead of only 10,000 pounds. There is also still a queen of England as like there was a king in the regency era.
"Class System Definition and Meaning | Collins English Dictionary." Class System Definition and Meaning | Collins English Dictionary. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Mar.
Hughes, Kathryn. "Gender Roles in the 19th Century." The British Library. The British Library, 13 Feb. 2014. Web. 29 Mar. 2017. Austen, Jane.
Pride and Prejudice. New York: Bantam, 2003. Print.
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Runcie, Charlotte. "Could Mr Darcy Afford a Stately Home Today?" The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, 29 Aug. 2014. Web. 29 Mar. 2017.