Illustration of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy with neutral expressions on their faces

Pride and Prejudice

by Jane Austen

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How is domestic life reflected in Pride and Prejudice?

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In many ways, domestic life is at the center of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, as it is a novel concerned with the home and the family. In general, it could be said that domestic life in the novel is reflected as the single most important factor in determining one's station, comfort, and status in life. For instance, the landed gentry (Darcy's social class) enjoy the fat of the land and can move freely about in elite social circles without worrying about needing to work. The Gardiners, however, while not poor by any means, occupy a lower rung in the social ladder simply because their family has made its wealth through trade. As such, the Gardiner family is thought of as lesser than those families, such as Darcy's, who have inherited their wealth through the ownership of land. Here, we can see that domestic life is dominated by the reputation (and usually a monetary reputation) of one's family. 

 Thus, there is understandably a scramble to "marry well," which means marrying into a rich family, as doing so will secure a stable social position for the future. It is this impulse that provokes Mrs. Bennet to tirelessly hunt for husbands for her daughters and Darcy to be initially hesitant and rude in his pursuit of Elizabeth. By focusing the novel so intently on this scramble to secure an eligible family, Austen also illustrates the importance of one's domestic life during the era in which the book takes place.

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