Class is a persistent subtext in the novel, and Austen is keen on linking money and marriage in the many relationships. Class in England is far more than wealth, and the markers of class suggest power and privilege. Indeed, Elizabeth's claim that she is of equal class to Darcy is a point she insists on in her argument with Lady Catherine. Her unwillingness to be intimidated by Darcy or Lady Catherine does speak to her sense of social value, despite her relative poverty. The perceived slight Darcy makes toward her both at the dance and in his proposal is wounding because it speaks to the limitations a perceived member outside the gentry would face as a marriage prospect. Even Mr. Collins cushions his proposal in terms of Elizabeth's assumed desire to make a match that allows her to maintain or improve her class.
A word on how readers of the day might parse out the different types of class is as follows:
Lady Catherine holds a title, as the daughter of an Earl. Darcy's mother would also then...
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