To understand the movie, it helps to know a few things.
This was in the 1920s and the Social Democrats and the
Communists were still in the process of subverting the
iron-grip of the State-Church (Swedish-Lutheran).
The message from the pulpits was: Work hard and obey
your masters. They are wiser than you; that is why God
set things up as He did. You will get your reward for all
eternity in Heaven after you die.
Needless to point out, this was a happy tune to the
owner (capitalist) class and also to the large land-owner
class. The greatest part of the population lived in a
serf or tenant-farmer society still. Class mobility was
a new idea.
The labor unions had not yet established many
work-related reforms, but there were working
on these things.
There was no free medical care, although there was
universal education for those whose parents could spare
them the time to be in school.
Women were paid only a small amount for jobs
for which men were paid much more.
Astrid's family were partly employed through the Church
and the land and the house they lived on was owned by the
Church. This put them even more under the thumb of
holy tyranny, compared to only having to keep up
appearances for the neighbors (which was still extreme
at that time).
So, these are some of the factors which caused the story
to go as it did.