An Outline of How Characters in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice Bring out Aspects of Their Society

Thesis: In Pride and Prejudice, Wickham's violation of trust, Miss Bingley's manipulation, and Lady Catherine's arrogance enhance the meaning of the work by bringing out aspects of the contemporary society such as power, greed, and class conflict.

  1. George Wickham

    1. Violation of trust

      1. Wickham lies about his relationship to Darcy.
      2. He deliberately deceives Elizabeth to give her a false sense of confidence in him.
      3. He builds up large gambling debts that are later paid off with other people’s money.
      4. He runs off with Lydia with no intention of marrying her.

        1. This brings disgrace upon the Bennet family.
        2. He later relents and marries Lydia, but then only because of Darcy’s money.

    2. Status in society

      1. Wickham gives off false impressions in order to gain respect/status in society.
      2. He portrays Darcy unfairly in order to further increase dislike for him.
      3. He tries to marry into a higher class.

        1. He first elopes with Georgiana Darcy to gain her wealth and status.
        2. He is later interested in Miss King because of her wealth and status.

      4. He pretends to have been cheated out of inheritance/proper status by Darcy.

    3. Enhancing the meaning of the work

      1. violation of trust

        1. Through an intentional misrepresentation of himself, Wickham shows society’s willingness to be impressed by appearances.
        2. As Wickham’s actions are condemned by the rest of society, one can see what values and morals were supposed to be upheld.

      2. status in society

        1. His continual want for wealth and status brings out class conflict issues.
        2. His character also brings out the importance of having money in the contemporary society.

  2. Miss Bingley

    1. Manipulation

      1. She pretends to be Jane’s friend while destroying her relationship with Bingley.

        1. Miss Bingley helps to convince Bingley to stay in London.
        2. She does not tell Bingley that Jane is in London.
        3. She also convinces Jane that Bingley will marry Georgiana Darcy.

      2. For her own motives, she tries to poison Darcy’s mind against Elizabeth.
      3. Miss Bingley tries to embarrass Elizabeth and disgrace her in front of Darcy.

    2. Control

      1. She tries to attract Darcy’s attention away from Elizabeth.
      2. She plays a large part in keeping Bingley away from Netherfield and Jane.

    3. Enhancing the meaning of the work

      1. Miss Bingley’s manipulation conveys the coquettish and petty attitudes evident in the society of that period.
      2. Her use of control develops the class conflict in Elizabeth and Darcy’s and Jane and Bingley’s relationships.

  3. Lady Catherine de Bourgh

    1. Involvement in affairs of others

      1. She dictates specific ways of behavior to the Collinses.
      2. She condescends to confer “favors” upon the Collinses.
      3. She gets involved in Elizabeth and Darcy’s relationship.

    2. Self-importance

      1. Lady Catherine thinks she can prevent Elizabeth and Darcy from marrying.
      2. She also assumes that Darcy and her daughter will wed because of their status.
      3. She assumes that her way is the only way in all matters.

    3. Enhancing the meaning of the work

      1. Her officiousness brings out the side of society that delighted in gossip.
      2. Lady Catherine’s conceit conveys the pride and arrogance of the wealthier classes.