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Essay: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

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  • Subject area(s): Literature essays
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  • Published: January 13, 2020*
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  • Tags: Jane Austen essays
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
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Historical information about the period of publication:

Jane Austen’s novels counteract the time of publication. Although she writes her novel through a peaceful English countryside; in England, it was a time of fighting. Napoleon uses his power to conquer Italy, Austria, and also make peace with France. Women of this time period play a strict role in life.

Plot Summary:

Within the novel, Mrs. Bennet is a mother of five daughters that are not married and since none of them have any money to their name, they are forced to find fortune or else they will be kicked out of their estate when Mr. Bennet passes. When Mr. Bingley and his friend move into their neighborhood, the Bennet’s realize that their luck in money would change. When Mr. Bingley and the Bennet’s meet for the first time, he becomes infatuated with Jane Bennet. Although he falls in love with her greatly, his sisters are disapproving of the whole encounter along with Mr. Darcy who does not wish to have Mr. Bingley to marry first. Due to this, Mr. Darcy exclaims, rather loudly, his disapproval of the whole encounter.

Despite the romantic feeling between the two is clear to both Jane Bennet and Charles Bingley, the two do not let their feelings become known to the other. Due to this, the two just remain close. In addition to the mutual feelings between the two, Mr. Darcy realizes that he is in love with Elizabeth Bennet. In response to his realization, he tries to receive Elizabeth’s attention once more. Despite his attempts, Elizabeth does not return his feelings. When Mr. Collins, Mr. Bennet’s closest male relative, arrives to the Bennet’s estate to inherit the estate after Mr. Bennet’s passing, Mr. Collin’s chooses to marry one of Mr. Bennet’s daughters, in particular, Elizabeth. Although he asks for her hand in marriage, she denies his offer and he chooses to leave.

The two youngest Bennet sisters choose to find love with the men of the militia. As the two sisters threw themselves onto any man who would take them, Mr. Wickham befriends Elizabeth who tells her his story of Mr. Darcy. Following up, the Bennet’s attend a ball in which Mr. Darcy asks Elizabeth for a dance into which she agrees to. Although the two dance, the relation between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth are not clear. To add into the confusion, Mrs. Bennet announces that she expects Jane and Charles to marry. This is where the story of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy begin.
Biographical information about the author:
Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775 in Hampshire, England. She was the seventh child born in her family and she only formed close relations with her sister and her brother, Henry. She grew up with access to literature and her family encouraged creativity throughout her life. She briefly brushed past love in 1795 when she fell in love with the nephew of a neighbor. Although she fell in love with him, none of them were interested in marriage so the parents separated the two; never letting the other see their other half. After she published her books, they were very popular with the public and for the most part received favorable criticism. Despite working hard on publishing two more novels, Jane Austen grew ill in between her writing and four years after publishing Pride and Prejudice, she died on July 18.

Characteristics about the genre/period:
Pride and Prejudice is a novel of manners which focuses on the idea of satirizing a particular time period and the behaviors from within. In particular, within the novel applies the satire to Elizabeth who refuses the idea of marriage and admits that she will die old instead of marrying. In addition to the satirizing manner of the novel, there is historical fiction as the setting of the novel is in the past where certain behaviors are accepted where modern day society rejects it. Finally, the romantic genre is also added to the list of genres as a small topic as throughout the novel, the idea of marriage is brought up, not through love and passion, but through money.
Describe the author’s style:
The author’s style is a combination of various literary devices. She uses parody, irony, and indirect speech in hopes to contradict the views of the real and imaginary world of this time period.
Give an example that best illustrates the author’s style:
“As soon as they were gone, Elizabeth walked out to recover her spirits; or in other words, to dwell without interruption on those subjects that must deaden them more.” (Chapter 54). This quote from the novel reveals Elizabeth’s confusion at her own emotions. She tries to leave in hopes to clear up her confusion. Jane Austen writes this is order to reveal Elizabeth’s split between her true emotions and the emotions she has to show.
List four memorable quotes and the significance of each:
“‘Pride.’ observed Mary, who piqued herself upon the solidity of her reflections, ‘if a very common failing, I believe. By all that I have ever read, I am convinced that it is very common indeed; that human nature is particularly prone to it…Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.’” (Chapter 5)
This quote is important because it describes a definite difference between pride and vanity. This is important because it is a lesson and idea that both Elizabeth and Darcy must learn.
“But no sooner had he made it clear to himself and his friends that she hardly had a good feature in her face, then he began to find it was rendered uncommonly intelligent by the beautiful expression of her dark eyes…he was forced to acknowledge her figure to be light and pleasing; and in spite of his asserting that her manners were not those of the fashionable world, he was caught by their easy playfulness.” (Chapter 6)
This quote is important because it reveals the first moment that Mr. Darcy actually falls in love with Elizabeth Bennet. In the quote, he explains what he likes about her one by one. He explains that he loves her intelligent, her looks, and her wonderful personality. He loves her for being her, which comes rare to modern day society.
“‘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.’” (Chapter 13)
This quote is important because it reveals the true nature of Mrs. Bennet. When she hears his name, she agrees to everything he says because she is more concerned about money than her daughter’s happiness. Mrs. Bennet is more concerned in saving her estate and reputation instead of her daughter’s love and happiness.
“His pride never deserts him; but with the rich he is liberal-minded, just, sincere, rational, honourable, and perhaps agreeable – allowing something for fortune and figure.” (Chapter 16)
This quote is important because it contrasts the word ‘liberal’ with the qualities just, sincere, and rational. It is to reveal that not everything is as it seems; that although it appears that it may seem that things are one way, it means another.

Name the major and minor characters in the work, his/her role in the story, his/her significance (changes, observer, stagnant), and two adjectives that describe the character:
Elizabeth Bennet – sister to Jane who tries hard not to fall in love, but ends up falling in love with Mr. Darcy; intelligent and good-natured
Fitzwilliam Darcy – closest friend to Mr. Bingley and secretly falls in love with Elizabeth; intelligent and reserved
Jane Bennet – eldest sister of the Bennet family who is closest friend of Elizabeth and Mr. Bingley’s main love interest; beautiful and gentle
Charles Bingley – Mr. Darcy’s closest friend and Jane’s main love interest; easygoing and peaceful
Mr. Bennet – the Bennet sisters father who cares more about his daughter’s future than what his wife says; sarcastic and loving
Mrs. Bennet – the Bennet sisters mother who cares more about marrying money rather than for love; silly and boisterous
Mr. Wickham – Elizabeth’s possible love interest who ends up becoming the main antagonist; deceptive and untrustworthy
Lydia Bennet – one of the youngest of the Bennet sisters who is quite foolish in her actions; foolish and immature
Catherine Bennet – one of the youngest of the Bennet sisters who is as foolish as her sister; foolish and immature
Mr. Collins – a clergyman who inherits everything and tries to ask the hand of the two eldest Bennet sisters and finally Charlotte; snobbish and self-inflated
Miss Bingley – Charles’s sister who separates her brother and Jane due to her love for Mr. Darcy and also her family; beautiful and conceited
Charlotte Lucas – Elizabeth’s best friend who accepts Mr. Collins’s proposal; sensible and pragmatic
Mr and Mrs. Gardiner – Elizabeth’s aunt and uncle who acts as Elizabeth’s foster parents and escorts her to the Lake District; loving and nurturing
Lady Catherine – Mr. Collins patroness and the aunt of Darcy who makes it clear that Elizabeth is not allowed to marry Mr. Darcy due to her social status; rich and snobby
Georgiana Darcy – the youngest sister of Mr. Darcy who reveals the softer sides of Darcy’s character; talented and shy
Give the setting:
Netherfield Park, Rosings Park, and Pemberley
Name the major symbols and explain each:
Pemberley: although Pemberley is Darcy’s estate, it is symbolic because it is the place where Elizabeth begins to understand her feelings for Mr. Darcy. His estate is the symbol of elegance and also the real Mr. Darcy. When Elizabeth visits his estate for the first time, she is enchanted by everything she sees and begins to fall in love with Mr. Darcy, much to her earlier resentment to him.
The Bridge: when she visits Pemberley, she encounters a bridge in which Mr. Darcy is standing on the other side. This is very important because it reveals the two of them realizing that they had an obstacle they must cross in order to be with the other.
What is the significance of the opening scene?
The importance of the opening scene is to reveal that Mr. Bingley had just moved into the neighborhood and due to his move, the Bennet’s become interested due to his vast amounts of money. It introduces the contrasting behavior of the majority of the Bennet family to the eldest daughters Jane and Elizabeth. It is within the beginning of the novel that we see Mr. Bennet acting as a father to stop his wife from acting so foolishly.
What is the significance of the ending/closing scene?
The importance of the closing scene is to end the novel with a fairy-tale ending. Despite the various problems that arise throughout the novel that separate Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy; the two end up happily together. Jane Bennet and Charles Bingley are together and move to escape her mother. The closing scene is used to explain that despite the hardships the people from within the novel face, there is always a happy ending; despite life not always being this fair.
Name the possible themes and explain each:
Love – throughout the novel, a recurring theme is the idea of love. Although a majority of the characters view the idea of love to be a joke and that marriage and love is really just money and greed. Due to this view of love, the characters work hard to find their true love. Due to this, Jane Austen views that love is found by overcoming great battles.
Reputation – throughout the novel, another recurring theme is reputation. Within the novel, the reputation of woman are exemplified by their actions. Depending on how a woman acted, a woman would have a good reputation or a bad one. If in the case a woman had a good reputation, she would be favored more compared to a woman of a poor reputation.

Works Cited
Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. New York: Modern Library, 1995. Print.

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