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Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is set in a small town in the prosperous south of England at the beginning of the 19th century. The characters are members of the gentry and the lower ranks of the nobility. The main setting includes the county and town where the Bennett and Lucas families live. They have a limited social circle and a concern is lack of eligible men for the Bennett daughters. Major episodes occur at the grand estates of Lady Catherine and Mr. Darcy, the former an illustration of how the very rich can run their estates badly and the latter an example of a well run estate and an owner who treats his dependents well.
The primary locations have some common features. All are estates where the grounds are spacious (Rosings and Pemberley being most spacious) and inviting of walks and horse riding. Each has a manor house that is kept by more or fewer servants. Each has common rooms where certain kinds of socializing occur. For instance, Mr. Bennet's library is a solitary room, a sanctuary where only the invited enter. The drawing room at Netherfield is ample enough to invite walking its parameters while some sleep or write letters at writing desks. Rosings' drawing room has a grand piano that is not available for Elizabeth to practice on--but--the governess's piano in the servants' quarters is available.
The primary social backgrounds are the various layers of the upper class: Darcy, the Bingleys, the Misses Bennets and Charlotte are the sons and daughters of upper class landed gentlemen. Darcy has the highest status because of his connection to Earl Fitzwilliam, his uncle, and to Lady de Bourgh, his aunt. All backgrounds have features in common. The upper class inhabitants of the featured estates are not dependent upon work for their living. They live off money they have inherited and that accrues interest in banks. Each primary character represents through their fathers a sociological sub-group of the upper class: (1) Bingley: a tradesman who had a successful business; (2) Charlotte: a knight with minimal fortune; (3) Elizabeth: a country gentleman; (4) Darcy: a gentleman with close connections to nobility.
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