Darren NgMr. SchultzWomen’s Literature P213 December 2017The Impact of Wealth and Social Status Over the course of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, multiple events occurred which impacted the behaviors of several characters in the story. However, some characters remain unchanged, despite the complex nature of the plot. During a time period distinguished by wealth and social class, Pride and Prejudice portrays the daily lives of families and individuals who become acquainted with each other through social events and gatherings. The influence of wealth and social status within Pride and Prejudice corrupts the behavior of certain characters, whereas others overcome this notion and become unfazed by it. The desire to attain wealth demonstrates the unruly behavior of Mrs. Bennet that she constantly displays throughout the novel. Mrs. Bennet gets stuck in a predicament when she finds out that Mr. Collins will acquire their estate when Mr. Bennet dies. Frustrated with this information, she exclaims, “I do think it is the hardest thing in the world, that your estate should be entailed away from your own children; and I am sure if I had been you, I should have tried long ago to do something or other about it” (Austen 52). With this in mind, Mrs. Bennet becomes fixed with the idea to marry off her daughters in order to acquire wealth. This displays her selfish nature, as she prioritizes her own concerns by taking advantage of her daughters. When Elizabeth refuses to accept the marriage proposal from Mr. Collins, Mrs. Bennet becomes incensed towards her, even threatening to disown her. She exclaims, “I should never speak to you again, and you will find me as good as my work. I have no pleasure in talking to undutiful children” (98). Mrs. Bennet believes that this was a wasted opportunity in recuperating from a potential loss of the estate. By berating her own child, it shows how Mrs. Bennet’s behavior continually demonstrates one that is egocentric. While attempting to match her daughters with other men, her behavior results in an embarrassment to the family. This shows her obliviousness when conversing with potential suitors for her daughters. She constantly acts without any awareness, as the yearning for wealth clouds her judgement. Ultimately, Mrs. Bennet is able to marry off her eldest daughters, Jane and Elizabeth, to men of great affluence, Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy. However, she does not care whether or not they have found happiness, only that she has finally accomplished her goal in her pursuit for wealth. Mrs. Bennet’s disorderly behavior in order to attain wealth has persisted throughout this entire novel, and the selfishness and ignorance of Mrs. Bennet’s character serve as a catalyst to her static development. Another character whose behavior has remained the same due to the influence of wealth, or the lack thereof, is Mr. Wickham. Wealth has always been something he has struggled with, ever since he decided to attend law school but ended up with no degree. He happens to be in great amounts of debt mainly due to gambling, as Colonel Forster mentioned that “more than a thousand pounds would be necessary to clear his expenses at Brighton” (252). He will try anything in order to acquire wealth, as his greed has corrupted him greatly. When he chats with Elizabeth, Mr. Wickham’s facade in portraying himself as a charismatic man, opposite of Mr. Darcy, proves that he is untrustworthy and deceitful. Since Mr. Wickham is poor, his main objective is to marry someone with money. Initially he tries to court Georgiana Darcy, Mr. Darcy’s then fifteen-year-old sister, but this attempt fails. Later, he attempts to woo Mary King, a young lady who inherits ten thousand pounds, but he is unsuccessful yet again. These efforts portray a man who tries to take advantage of others and will not stop until he gets what he wants. His desire to attain money leads to a development of cunning techniques, and this manipulation is what his reputation is based upon. Eventually, he ends up getting married to Lydia, the Bennet family’s youngest child, and Mr. Darcy ends up covering the costs due to Mr. Wickham’s near destitution. With their dire financial situation, they constantly move “in quest of a cheap situation, and always spending more than they ought” (331). This shows that Mr. Wickham is constantly trying to live a life suited only for those in the upper social class. The insatiable nature of his character prompts him to pursue the finer things in life, but he will always have difficulty in achieving this. His demeanor has always been one that has been motivated by greed and the pursuit of wealth. As a result, this perception produces a static character, one who will not cease to attain wealth and use any means necessary to accomplish this task. Someone who has changed drastically over the course of this novel is Mr. Darcy. During the first ball, Mr. Darcy is proud due to his extremely large wealth and high social status. When Mr. Bingley offers Mr. Darcy to dance with Elizabeth, he replies, “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me” (7). Mr. Darcy thinks that his wealth and social status are too good for anyone else, looking down upon all the other characters in this novel. He has no reason to befriend others because he prefers to assert his dominance in the form of wealth. This pride allows him to carry himself with confidence and establish his superiority. However, Mr. Darcy later ignores the modest wealth and social status of the Bennet family when he proposes to Elizabeth but is rejected. When Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy profess their love for each other at the end of the novel, Mr. Darcy mentions his upbringing, and he states, “I was given good principles, but left to follow them in pride and conceit” (315). This depicts the transformation that Mr. Darcy has undergone from the beginning of the novel. His love for Elizabeth has altered his entire demeanor, as he becomes aware of his own flaws and arrogance when she turns down his marriage proposal. He understands that the wealth and social status of others are insignificant if one really loves someone for who they are and recognizes that true beauty is not superficial. Furthermore, he even tries to impress Elizabeth by paying Mr. Wickham to marry off Lydia. Eventually, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy end up marrying each other, and this end result shows that Mr. Darcy’s character is one that is sensitive and caring. The willingness to marry into a dysfunctional family demonstrates Mr. Darcy’s acceptance to introduce new aspects into his life and accept old ones, as Mr. Wickham will be apart of his family again. Thus, Mr. Darcy indicates his dynamic development as a character by overcoming his prejudices targeting those of lower status and embracing their standards. The impact of wealth and social status has played an important role in the character development in Pride and Prejudice. The characters who only look to pursue wealth generally maintain a behavior of selfishness and greed. The desire to pursue wealth leads people to do uncharacteristic actions in order to make this acquisition, but other characters overcome this idea and have more control over their lives. Each character in Pride and Prejudice is unique in its development with different ties to the influence of wealth and social status. Works CitedAusten, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. TOR Books, 1988.