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Meanwhile, the Bingleys present a particular problem for navigating social class. Hurst behave and speak of others as if they have always belonged in the upper echelons of society, Austen makes a point to explain that the Bingleys acquired their wealth by trade rather than through the gentry's and aristocracy's methods of inheritance and making money off their tenants as landlords.
The fact that Bingley rents Netherfield Hall – it is, after all, "to let" – distinguishes him significantly from Darcy, whose estate belonged to his father's family, and who, through his mother, is the grandson and nephew of an Earl.
Elizabeth only accepts Darcy's proposal when she is certain she loves him and her feelings are reciprocated.
Two examples are George Wickham, who tried to elope with Georgiana Darcy, and Colonel Fitzwilliam. Bennet's death and his proposal to Elizabeth would have ensured her future security. Inheritance laws benefited males because most women did not have independent legal rights until the second half of the 19th century.
Marrying a woman of a rich family also ensured a linkage to a high family, as is visible in the desires of Bingley's sisters to have their brother married to Georgiana Darcy. Bennet is frequently seen encouraging her daughters to marry a wealthy man of high social class. Bingley arrives, she declares "I am thinking of his marrying one of them." Inheritance was by descent, but could be further restricted by entailment, which would restrict inheritance to male heirs only. As a consequence, women's financial security at that time depended on men.
His aunt, Lady Catherine, later characterises these differences in particularly harsh terms when she conveys what Elizabeth's marriage to Darcy will become: "Will the shades of Pemberley be thus polluted?
" Though Elizabeth responds to Lady Catherine's accusations that hers is a potentially contaminating economic and social position (Elizabeth even insists she and Darcy are "equals"), Lady Catherine refuses to accept Darcy's actual marriage to Elizabeth even as the novel closes.
Heartbroken, Jane goes to visit her Aunt and Uncle Gardiner at an unfashionable address in London. Elizabeth and her hosts are invited to Rosings Park, the imposing home of Lady Catherine de Bourgh, patroness of Mr. Elizabeth is surprised and delighted by the kindness to herself and her aunt and uncle. Darcy immediately and departs in haste, believing she will never see him again, since Lydia's disgrace has ruined the family's good name. It should be pointed out that the qualities of the title are not exclusively assigned to one or the other of the protagonists; both Elizabeth and Darcy display pride and prejudice." The whole of this unfortunate business," said Dr Lyster, "has been the result of PRIDE and PREJUDICE ...