Social Classes In Pride And Prejudice, By Jane Austen

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During the Victorian Age, classism played an important role in social relationships. People of the upper-class did not socialize with the lower classes because they felt as if they were not equals. The novels Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen describe two different classes, yet they contain two similar characters: Esther, a young woman residing with her sister and family, and Lydia Bennet, a fifteen-year-old girl living with her parents and four sisters. Both characters are bold, selfish, make rash decisions, and have grand infatuations with men and pursue militia men. However, even though these characters are similar in many ways, the outcomes to their situations vary because of their different social …show more content…
Both women left everything they knew and loved behind in pursuit of a husband, without considering how their families would feel about their disappearances. They were both too naïve at the time to realize their mistake. In the beginning of Mary Barton, the last time Esther is seen by anyone was the Tuesday she checked out of a hotel. When John Barton gives his account of what happened the night Esther disappeared to Mr. Wilson, he says, “she took leave of us that Sunday night in a very loving way…so we thought nothing of her kisses and shakes…Wednesday night…we found Esther told [Mrs. Bradshaw] she was coming back to live with us”, (Gaskell 11). In Pride and Prejudice, Lydia was given permission by her parents to follow the soldiers to Brighton. However, Lydia abuses this privilege and runs off with one of the soldiers, George Wickham. Jane Bennet writes a letter to her sister Elizabeth to tell her what has happened to their youngest sister, Lydia. “[Lydia has] gone off to Scotland with… Wickham! Imagine our surprise. To Kitty, however, it does not seem wholly unexpected…Our poor mother is sadly grieved”, (Austen 182). They were so …show more content…
Esther was more of a dynamic character while Lydia was static, for she stayed stuck in her vain and naïve ways throughout the entirety of Pride and Prejudice. When Esther tells Jem of all that has happened to her in the years she has been gone, she begs him to keep her niece, Mary, from making the same mistakes she did: “I charge you with the care of her! I suppose it would be murder to kill her, but it would be better for her to die than to live to lead such a life as I do”, (Gaskell 163). She noticed that Mary was following in her footsteps; she was young, beautiful, and a wealthy boy began to gain her attention. She knew that if Harry Carson were to get what he wanted from her, it would ruin her chances of living a normal life, thus leading her down the same path Esther was forced to take. Lydia, never learned her lesson, for Austen says in her novel, “as for Wickham and Lydia, their characters suffered no revolution”, (Austen 260). She ran away with George Whickam, and he was forced into marrying her to keep anymore shame from being brought onto her and her family. Even after this, Lydia kept requesting for her sisters’ help whenever she and George were in a financial hole from his gambling, but her sisters did nothing to help her learn her lesson. They still provided for her whenever she was in need out of fear of shame

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