What is the context (historical, cultural, social, political) of Jane Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice'?Am in the middle of writing a commentary on a piece of coursework of which 'Pride and...

What is the context (historical, cultural, social, political) of Jane Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice'?

Am in the middle of writing a commentary on a piece of coursework of which 'Pride and Prejudice' is the base text, so any help would be gratefully received, thanks!

Expert Answers
M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hope this helps:

Historical and political context: The setting takes place around the late 1700's and early 1800's during the Regency period. Regency means that England was not ruled by a King or Queen, but by a Prince Regent, in this case it was the son of the (mad) King George III, Prince George Regent who would eventually become King George IV.

In France, the Napoleonic Wars were going on, and Marie Antoinette, and the entire French aristocracy had been beheaded or exiled, causing much commotion in England while solidifying the snob-factor of the English upper classes. In other words, it was as if what happened in France made the English rejoice so much (they have long hated each other) and made the English go all out. Plus, the Prince Regen avidly supported social separation as he himself was a first class spendrift.

Cultural and Social context: During Prince George's regency there was not much order as he was a very unsympathetic lusty and ridiculously unintelligent man. Class division basically took a personality of its own and it was more divided than every. Gender was clear issue and women were still treated as second class citizen despite of rank. Social mobility was completely obstaculized by prejudice of rank, birth, and status. Women would never attempt to gain ownership of anything except through marriage. When married, women become a PART of the household whose function is to moderate all the other parts.

The job of females, then, is to produce children but even during this Regency male heirs, whether rich or not, were given first priority. This is why the character if Mr. Collins is the heir to the Bennets estate.

Hope this helps a bit!