Jane Austen’s best selling novel, Pride and Prejudice, was written between 1796 and 1797 and is set in the nineteenth century. To a reader, the title ‘Pride and Prejudice’ may give the impression that the novel is just about pride and prejudice, but in fact, the novel is about much more. It’s about matters of upbringing, marriage, moral rightness and love. Austen’s work mainly concentrates on the aspects of life relevant to that time period, for example; marriage, social class, this is portrayed through irony and the ironic views of the author.
The novel is narrated through free indirect discourse, this gives a reader a more in-depth explanation and better description of what is happening. ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man of possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife’, the first line in the novel is ironic because it means the opposite of what it actually says. It sets the novel in motion and briskly introduces the arrival of Mr. Bingley to Netherfield. Austen cleverly uses this linguistic technique throughout the novel which creates an interesting yet imaginative storyline.
In the nineteenth Century, women needed to be married as soon as possible because very few had their own income and it was expected that women were to be married young. Men had far more freedom than women, this was down to the fact that there were more jobs available to them and men were usually considered as the head of the house so they were free to do what they wanted, when they wanted. People of the nineteenth century had to be formally introduced to higher class visitors or citizens or else they could not go to dances or speak to them.
This was because the expectations and social status of the nineteenth century were high. The eldest girl in the family back then was known by ‘Miss’ followed by their sir name. For example, Jane is known as ‘Miss Bennet’ because she is the eldest, the other were known by Miss Elizabeth Bennet, Miss Lydia Bennet ECT. Also in the nineteenth century, the oldest daughter was generally expected to marry first, in Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Collins wanted to ask for Jane’s hand in marriage, but as she was expected to marry Mr. Bingley, he then moved on to Elizabeth.