Study Guide

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Society & Class

By Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

Society & Class

"If they had uncles enough to fill all Cheapside," cried Bingley, "it would not make them one jot less agreeable. Have you no regard for them as warriors? Indeed, I have never seen ladies so steady-handed in combat." 

"But it must very materially lessen their chance of marrying men of any consideration in the world," replied Darcy. (8.17-18)

So Caroline is dissing Elizabeth (and Jane, too), and Mr. Bingley can't help but come to their defense. But they're warriors, he says. Isn't that great? Mr. Darcy then has to point out the truth: no matter how skilled the Bennet sisters are in combat, they're lower class. What guy's gonna want to marry them?

"Indeed, Mamma, you are mistaken," said Elizabeth, blushing for her mother. "You quite mistook Mr. Darcy. He only meant that there was not such a variety of people to be met with in the country as in the town, which you must acknowledge to be true. Just as Mr. Darcy would surely acknowledge that the scarcity of graveyards makes the country altogether more agreeable in times such as these." 

"Certainly, my dear; but as to not meeting with many people in this neighbourhood, I believe there are few neighbourhoods larger. I know we dine with four-and-twenty families. Well, three-and-twenty, I suppose—God rest poor Mrs. Long's soul." (9.21-22)

Sure, Mr. Darcy thinks the country is boring and gross, but even Elizabeth has to acknowledge her mother is acting obnoxious and unclassy here. She has to step in and save the conversation from totally going off the rails before Mr. Darcy decides her family is complete trash.

Despite their lack of fighting skill, she had to admit that their powers of conversation were considerable. "If only words were capable of beheading a zombie," she thought, "I would presently find myself in the company of the world's two greatest warriors." (11.1)

The Bingley sisters aren't trained to fight zombies, but they have other skills that Elizabeth is totally in awe of: they're refined and highly trained in the art of conversation. They will cut you with their words. Basically, they're the 19th-century version of mean girls.

Mr. Collins was eloquent in her praise, offering that he had never in his life witnessed such self-discipline in a person of rank. Lady Catherine was reckoned proud by many people he knew but he had never seen anything but a singular dedication to the art of killing zombies. She had always spoken to him as she would to any other gentleman; she made not the smallest objection to his watching her spar nor to his leaving the parish occasionally for a week or two, to visit his relations. (14.1)

This is Mr. Collins' description of Lady Catherine, so you know it's a little insane, even if there is obviously some truth in it. Lady Catherine is a grand, high-society lady who's a master zombie slayer to boot. Mr. Collins is a groveling and grateful subject who will gladly lick her shoes—if she'll let him.

"My dear Miss Elizabeth […] there must be a wide difference between the established forms of ceremony amongst the laity, and those which regulate the clergy. After all, you may wield God's sword, but I wield His wisdom. And it is wisdom, dear cousin, which will ultimately rid us of our present difficulties with the undead." 

"You will excuse me for saying so, but I have never seen a zombie's head taken off by words— nor do I ever expect to." (18.49-50)

Oh, Mr. Collins. Dude wants to go introduce himself to Mr. Darcy, but Elizabeth knows this is a bad idea. Mr. Collins tries to up his social status but telling her that he's the keeper of God's word (because he's a clergyman). But yeah, dude—good luck battling zombies with words. Elizabeth will stick with her musket.

Elizabeth's courage did not fail her, even though she had been regaled with stories of Lady Catherine's accomplishments from the time she had been old enough to hold her first dagger. The mere stateliness of money or rank she could witness without trepidation, but the presence of a woman who had slain ninety dreadfuls with nothing more than a rain-soaked envelope was an intimidating prospect indeed. (29.8)

Elizabeth is excited to meet Lady Catherine, but not because of her wealth or social status. She's impressed by the woman's skill alone. Elizabeth is all about the things people have earned, not the stuff they've inherited.

"I assume you were schooled in Japan?"

"No, your ladyship. In China." 

"China? Are those monks still selling their clumsy kung fu to the English? I take it you mean Shaolin?" 

"Yes, your ladyship; under Master Liu." 

"Well, I suppose you had no opportunity. Had your father more means, he should have taken you to Kyoto."

"My mother would have had no objection, but my father hates Japan." 

"Have your ninjas left you?"

"We never had any ninjas." 

"No ninjas! How was that possible? Five daughters brought up at home without any ninjas! I never heard of such a thing." (29.19-27)

Lady Catherine has definite feelings about the right way to fight zombies—her way. We're not exactly sure if it matters. If the zombies wind up dead in the end, does it matter if the person killing them trained in China or Japan? Well, for her ladyship, it's a matter of class. The finest trainers are in Japan. End of story.

He spoke well; but there were feelings besides those of the heart to be detailed; and he was not more eloquent on the subject of tenderness than of pride. His sense of her inferiority—of its being a degradation—of the family obstacles which had always opposed to inclination, were dwelt on with a warmth which seemed due to the consequence he was wounding, but was very unlikely to recommend his suit. 

In spite of her deeply rooted bloodlust, she could not be insensible to the compliment of such a man's affection, and though her intention of killing him did not vary for an instant, she was somewhat sorry for the pain he was to receive; till, roused to resentment by his subsequent language, she lost all compassion in anger. (34.5-6)

This is the marriage proposal every little kid dreams of, right? I love you…but your family is the worst. Elizabeth gets madder and madder as she hears Mr. Darcy talk. It's no wonder she attacks him when he finally finishes. It's not his smoothest moment.

[Pemberley] was a large, handsome stone building, made to resemble the grandest palaces of Kyoto, and backed by a ridge of high woody hills; and in front, a stream of some natural importance was swelled into a natural defense against frontal assault, but without any artificial appearance. Its banks were neither formal nor falsely adorned. Elizabeth was delighted. She had never seen a place for which nature had done more, or where the natural beauty of the Orient had been so little counteracted by English taste. They were all of them warm in their admiration; and at that moment she felt that to be mistress of Pemberley might be something! (43.3)

Okay, this might be Mr. Darcy's smoothest moment. When Elizabeth sees Pemberley, it's like she's seeing Mr. Darcy's true nature. Sure, it's a place that's obviously huge and grand, but it's also not all dolled up and fancy. It's naturally beautiful, and it's decorated with little hints of its owner's passion for Japan. It may be a mansion, but it's downright homey.

The death of your daughter would have been a blessing in comparison of this, just as the beheading and burning of my bride was a fate preferable to seeing her join the ranks of Lucifer's brigade. You are grievously to be pitied; in which opinion I am joined Lady Catherine and her daughter, to whom I have related the affair. They agree with me in apprehending that this dishonouring of one's daughter will be injurious to the fortunes of all the others; for "who," as Lady Catherine herself condescendingly says, "will connect themselves with such a family?" (48.9)

For a guy who married a zombie, Mr. Collins' tone is pretty smug here. He wants the Bennets to know that Lady Catherine is totally looking down on their family because of Lydia's little escapade. The Bennets are all tarnished socially, and there's nothing they can do about it.