Setting

Pride and Prejudice

by

Jane Austen

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Pride and Prejudice: Setting 1 key example

Definition of Setting
Setting is where and when a story or scene takes place. The where can be a real place like the city of New York, or it can be an imagined... read full definition
Setting is where and when a story or scene takes place. The where can be a real place like the city of New York, or... read full definition
Setting is where and when a story or scene takes place. The where can be a real place like the... read full definition
Setting
Explanation and Analysis:

Pride and Prejudice primarily takes place in small-town Hertfordshire, England, though the characters travel to other parts of England as well (including London and the fictional towns of Hunsford and Lambton). The book is set during the Napoleonic Wars—the period between 1797 and 1815, when England was at war with France—during which it was common to see troops of soldiers stationed throughout the country. Though Austen does not focus on the political context in Pride and Prejudice, she includes several characters who serve as soldiers, including Wickham.

During this time period in England, laws prevented women from being landowners. This context is important and explains why Mrs. Bennet is so fixated on finding husbands for her daughters; after Mr. Bennet dies, their estate will pass to Collins (as his male nephew), leaving the Bennet sisters destitute unless they find husbands who can provide for them.

Though the novel includes characters of various socioeconomic classes (including the servants who work for the Bennets), Pride and Prejudice mostly focuses on the relationship between upper middle class “landed gentry” (like the Bennets) and wealthy landowning aristocrats (like Darcy and Bingley). Both classes include families who own land and employ servants, but the difference in access to wealth is significant. Whereas aristocratic families like the Darcys have generational wealth, families like the Bennets have earned it relatively recently and, therefore, are more worried about losing it. The differences in class are best displayed in the differences between the various characters’ homes—whereas Darcy and Bingley reside in massive mansions like Pemberley and Netherfield (respectively), the Bennet family and the Collins family live in relatively modest homes.