Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice Wealth Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Mr. Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien, and the report which was in general circulation within five minutes after his entrance, of his having ten thousand a year. The gentlemen pronounced him to be a fine figure of a man, the ladies declared he was much handsomer than Mr. Bingley, and he was looked at with great admiration for about half the evening, till his manners gave a disgust which turned the tide of his popularity; for he was discovered to be proud; to be above his company, and above being pleased; and not all his large estate in Derbyshire could then save him from having a most forbidding, disagreeable countenance, and being unworthy to be compared with his friend. (3.5)
Well, this is encouraging: money might matter a lot, but, at least in Meryton, it doesn't matter enough to make people overlook Darcy's major personality defects.
Within a short walk of Longbourn lived a family with whom the Bennets were particularly intimate. Sir William Lucas had been formerly in trade in Meryton, where he had made a tolerable fortune, and risen to the honour of knighthood by an address to the king during his mayoralty. The distinction had perhaps been felt too strongly. It had given him a disgust to his business, and to his residence in a small market town; and, in quitting them both, he had removed with his family to a house about a mile from Meryton, denominated from that period Lucas Lodge, where he could think with pleasure of his own importance, and, unshackled by business, occupy himself solely in being civil to all the world. (5.1)
Here's one example of a man who made money in business: Sir William Lucas. Apparently, his social rise went something like this: acquired fortune, became mayor, addressed the king, received a knighthood, then decided he was too good to keep making money. And this, Shmoopers, is one of the contradictions that's maybe most confusing to us 21st century readers: everyone wants money, but actually going out and making it means that you'll be a social pariah. (All the cool kids get their money from renting out land on their estates, you see.)
"Oh! my dear," cried his wife, "I cannot bear to hear that mentioned. Pray do not talk of that odious man. 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." (13.8-9)
Mrs. Bennet flips when she hears Mr. Collins's name, and we can't exactly blame her, but this passage also shows that she's kind of an idiot about money: it's not Mr. Bennet's fault that there's an entail on their house, and he can't just go "fix" it. It's the law. The point of the law is to keep the money and estate in the family, instead of seeing it split up among daughters or go to someone else's family when a daughter marries—which is really bad news if you just keep popping out girls.