Posted: 30 October 2007 at 2:40am
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Pride and Prejudice is Jane Austen's second novel. A novel she wrote before she was twenty-one years old. It was originally titled First Impression because the appearances of each of the characters created the plot of the novel. However, because the novel is also concerned with the effects of the character's first impressions, that is their prejudice, Austen changed the title Pride and Prejudice.
Pride and Prejudice, similar to other Austen novels, is written in gentle or Horacian satire. The main object of Austen's satire in the novel is the mercenary and the ignorance of the people, a common criticism of the 18th century. Characters in the novel who best carry these qualities are:
Mrs. Bennet, a foolish woman who talks too much and is obsessed with getting her daughters married;
Lydia Bennet, the youngest of the Bennet daughters who is devoted to a life of dancing, fashions, gossips and flirting; and
Mr. Williams Collins, the silly and conceited baboon who is completely stupefied by Lady Catherine in every aspect of his life that he has forgotten his own morals and duty.
The tone of the novel is light, satirical, and vivid. Scenes such as Mr. Collins proposal to Elizabeth, and Lady Catherine's visits to Lizzy at Longbourn, provide comic relief to the reader while at the same time revealing certain traits of the characters. For example, Lydia's lack of common sense and responsibility is revealed when she takes pride in being the first Bennet girl to be married. Lydia does not take into consideration the circumstance of her marriage, the personality of her husband, or the prospects of their marriage for the future. Elizabeth Bennet's ability to laugh off her misfortune and to continue to be optimistic, considering her situation, also contributes to the tone of the novel.
The point of view in Pride and Prejudice is limited omniscient; the story is told through Elizabeth, but not in first person. As a result, the mood of the novel lacks dramatic emotions. The atmosphere is intellectual and cold; there are little descriptions of the setting. The main actions of the novel are the interactions between opinions, ideas, and attitudes, which weaves and advances the plot of the novel. The emotions in the novel are to be perceived beneath the surface of the story and are not to be expressed to the readers directly.
Austen's powers of subtle discrimination and shrewd perceptiveness is revealed in Pride and Prejudice; she is able to convey such a complex message using a simple, yet witty, style.
The main subject in the novel is stated in the first sentence of the novel: "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." In this statement, Austen has cleverly done three things: she has declared that the main subject of the novel will be courtship and marriage, she has established the humorous tone of the novel by taking a simple subject to elaborate and to speak intelligently of, and she has prepared the reader for a chase in the novel of either a husband in search of a wife, or a women in pursuit of a husband.
The first line also defines Austen's book as a piece of literature that connects itself to the 18th century period. Pride and Prejudice is 18th century because of the emphasis on man in his social environment rather than in his individual conditions. The use of satire and wit, a common form of 18th century literature, also contributes to label the book as 18th century. However, because Austen had allowed personal feelings of the characters to be expressed in her work, she can also be classified as Romantic. In the figure of Elizabeth, Austen shows passion attempting to find a valid mode of existence in society. Passion and reason also comes together in the novel to show that they are complementary of marriage.
when i read the book as a school girl i thought it was pretty boring...but reading it again years later, i understood the literary nuances!!!
Edited by jasunap - 30 October 2007 at 2:41am