Class, Money, Pride and Happiness in Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen

Class, Money, Pride and Happiness in Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen

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Happiness can be defined in a plethora of ways such as good fortune, a state of well being, or a pleasurable, satisfying experience. William Thackeray’s Rebecca Sharp stated in the novel Vanity Fair that she “could be a good woman if she had five thousand pounds” and she “could dawdle about in the nursery and count the apricots on the wall” (VF 414). Marianne Dashwood of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility says that she “cannot be happy with a man whose taste did not in every point coincide with my own” (SS 15). Most importantly, Elizabeth Bennet of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice states that she would be happy with someone who “has no improper pride” and “is perfectly amiable” (PP 364). While all of these novels give a glimpse into the opinions of happiness, Pride and Prejudice delves into the nuances of happiness, showing the conflicts that come with these intertwining ideas of class, money, and pride. Ultimately, we come across an important question: What constitutes happiness and how do the ideas of class, money and pride coincide, bringing about conflicting moods in Austen’s novel, Pride and Prejudice?

Throughout Austen’s novel, Pride and Prejudice, we see many instances of the aforementioned conflicts that ensue. The first example of conflict comes out of the fictional mouths of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. Right out of the gate, Mrs. Bennet speaks of the fact that a wealthy individual by the name of Charles Bingley is to arrive at the vacant estate of Netherfeld. Mrs. Bennet states that, “Oh single, my dear to be sure! A single man of large fortune; four or five thousand a year. What a fine thing for our girls!” (6). Edward Copeland writes in his article titled Class, “Incomes of 4,000 pounds a year and above leave behind...


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...n while reading: “Which of us is happy in this world? Which of us has his desire? Or having it satisfied?” (VF 680). Elizabeth Bennet exclaims, “I am the happiest creature in the world. Perhaps other people have said so before, but no one with such justice. I am happier even than Jane; she only smiles, I laugh” (PP 369).





Works Cited

Austen, Jane. Sense and Sensibility. New York: Barnes and Noble Books, 2004. Print

Copeland, Edward. The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997. Print

Thackeray, William M. Vanity Fair. New York: Barnes and Noble Books, 2003. Print

Wollstonecraft, Mary. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Ed. Carol H. Poston. W.W. Norton & Company; Second Edition. New York: Norton, 1975. Print

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. New York: Barnes and Noble Books, 2003. Print

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