What's the background of Pride and Prejudice?

In this novel Jane Austen focuses on the upper class in the early nineteenth century and carried out several issues of the upper class. What we focus on here is the relationship between the two issues of "entail" and "marriage and money".

     "There are not many in my rank of life who can afford to marry without 
        some attention to money." --- Colonel Fitzwilliam

"An Entail was a legal device used to prevent a landed property from being broken up, and/or from descending in a female line." ('Entail and Inheritance', Notes on Education, Marriage, Status of Women, etc. Pride & Prejudice Hypertext. http://www.pulpit.org/Samples/money_grab.htm) 
Conventionally, entail went to sons, and daughters could only depend on a wealth husband to ensure their life with fortune. At that time most women were not allowed to work and earn money by themselves. Even though there were few occupations for women, such as being a governess, women with such occupations were often not respected and couldn't have good working condition. It was almost impossible for the upper class ladies to "step out into the society" and earn their own living. Therefore, "marriage is pretty much the only way of ever getting out from under the parental roof..." ('Marriage and the Alternatives: The Status of Women', Notes on Education, Marriage, Status of Women, etc. Pride & Prejudice Hypertext), and "husband-hunting" became very important to single women. Another important concept in this period was the relationship between marriage and status. A successful marriage was a perfect match of social status, and had a lot to do with property, money, and inherited estate. Men were looking for beautiful women with good family connections; women were using every possible "skills" to get husbands with good fortune. Marriage became a game of hunting; or worse, "marriage is a market, and the young women were its merchandise." (Ginger Grab, Money & Marriage.http://www.pemberley.com/jameinfo/pptopicz.htm/#entail) 

  • How does such background influence the two proposals of Mr. Collins and Mr. Darcy to Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice? 

Mr. Collins' list of reasons for proposal is the best proof of regarding marriage as merely the business transaction. It perfectly shows the reality of marriage market. As for Darcy, although he proposes to Elizabeth out of love, yet like Mr. Collins, his economical and social consideration for Elizabeth makes him assume that it will be impossible to get severe rejection.

  • But does marriage only have to do with social status, property and appropriate class?
Such idea was exactly what Jane Austen criticized. Women shouldn't just be the merchandise in marriage market; their intelligence and good sense should bring them happiness in marriage. In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth is the representative of this idea. "The problem that Jane Austen sets up in this novel is how is Lizzy to maintain her integrity and find happiness in this savage environment, and on a thematic level, how is love possible in a ruthless, money and status-oriented society?" (Ginger Grab, Money & Marriage)  In spite of the mercenary and husband hunting in that society, Elizabeth insists to remain true to her feelings and her intelligence. However, she's too confident of herself and it makes her unaware of her false judgment. Her great prejudice blinds her and leads her fail to see the truth. This is the lesson that she's going to learn ultimately. 

What follow are the deeper discussions of the two proposals and Elizabeth's judgment.

The comparison of two proposals we have read
Elizabeth's judgments