Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy- the epitome of a love at first sight. Many argue this is the embodiment of a romance novel, infamous and a must read for all. However, I will raise the question: is Pride and Prejudice truly a novel of romance, or the creation of a social realism of 19th century love?


No arguments can be said that the 2005 film adaptation of this well-beloved tale does not make each watcher's heart sore; but, something can be said of the indifference of the original words.


Beginning with the history of the 19th century, middle and upper-class womens’ education from an early age was shaped by their future matrimonial endevours. There was a keen focus on the ‘ornamental parts’ of studies, foreseen as a requirement for girls; these subjects included: French, Italian, music and drawing- what was believed as enough to get a husband. 


Following on to the 19th century literary community, new opportunities began to arise. With the introduction of new copyright laws, female writers from educated backgrounds were granted opportunities of publication. Nevertheless, there were still restrictions for our well-beloved writers. 


Women were required to meet the needs of the circulating libraries- member libraries where you were allowed to borrow popular books for a certain period- and demands from publishers were regarded as the topics of love or an idealised beauty. 


Back to the topic of Pride and Prejudice, romance was not regarded as relevant for a 19th century relationship. Marriages were business transactions; dowries and all! With regards to Mrs Bennet insisting on her daughters marrying well-counted men, this was all common for the time. Jane Austen did not create the beginning of her cherished characters Jane and Mr Bingley’s love solely off starry eyes, the family also needed the marriage to provide for the family’s future, the daughters’ futures. If the elder sister married adequately, this would allow the latter to flourish with their choices.


Focusing on Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy, their love took motion in a ball- the meeting place for many middle and upper class couples. Mr Darcy was desirable; with his mere £10,000 a year, all eyes were set on him for the marriage. If they did not acquire these yearly funds, would Mr and Mrs Bennet grant their daughter the marriage of this man?


The answer: most likely, no!


Austen created her novels on the basis of social realism, what she knew, what she saw. From a middle-class background, Austen was surrounded with the Bennet’s background of life. If Austen was writing a 21st century romance, we could say the tale would be most different. However, with Austen’s novel world renowned for its impeccable language development and character creations, would any reader really feel it necessary to change our loved story?