Is Pride and Prejudice, in the end, a critique of the socio economic categories of its time?Or does it actually affirm some of the culture's ideas about class, marriage and behavior?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would state that what could be used as criticism is actually satire. I suspect that if Jane had criticized, she would have done it more openly. She understood the inevitability of the social differences, and she did not write to abolish them, nor to trash them down like, for example, Oscar Wilde or Charles Dickens would have. Instead, she presented what she knew, and satirized most of it through specific characters.

All of Jane Austen's characters (the couples) will inevitably go through a series of problems to achieve their romance, and seemingly the obstacles WILL include social and financial differences that might threaten the courtship-yet-is a completely separate thing from the romance itself.  In other words, the roman remains pure and true- Society is another issue.

In all, class, marriage, behavior- they are given as "matters of fact" and not under the negative scope of irony or criticism- It is almost as if Jane herself wants you to create your own criticism of these days almost knowing what you are about to say.

kristenfusaro eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The satirical structure that Austen develops would not fit the criticism category in that all of the characters end up falling into their expected place in society at the end of the novel.

Austen begins the novel with: "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." This statement is clearly ironic as demonstrated by Mrs. Bennet, who tries fervently and ridiculously to marry off all of her daughters because the Bennet property is entailed to Mr. Collins. A single woman is more likely in want of a husband who possess a good fortune.

It seems as though Austen is criticizing the socio economic groups; however, Jane marries Bingley, Elizabeth marries Darcy, Lydia marries Wickham, Charlotte marries Collins, and Lucy & Mary are still young enough to comfortably live home. True criticism would have the women rebel from the satirical expectation.