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Pride and Prejudice

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Pride and Prejudice is a romantic novel by Jane Austen, first published in 1813. The story charts the emotional development of the protagonist, Elizabeth Bennet, who learns the error of making hasty judgments and comes to appreciate the difference between the superficial and the essential. The comedy of the writing lies in the depiction of manners, education, marriage, and money during the British Regency period.Many critics take the novel's title as a starting point when analysing the major themes of Pride and Prejudice; however, Robert Fox cautions against reading too much into the title because commercial factors may have played a role in its selection. "After the success of Sense and Sensibility, nothing would have seemed more natural than to bring out another novel of the same author using again the formula of antithesis and alliteration for the title. It should be pointed out that the qualities of the title are not exclusively assigned to one or the other of the protagonists; both Elizabeth and Darcy display pride and prejudice."[9] Although the phrase "pride and prejudice" had been used over the preceding two centuries by Joseph Hall, Jeremy Taylor, Joseph Addison and Samuel Johnson,[10] Austen probably took her title from a passage in Fanny Burney's Cecilia (1782), a popular novel she is known to have admired:[11]

The whole of this unfortunate business," said Dr Lyster, "has been the result of PRIDE and PREJUDICE... Yet this, however, remember: if to PRIDE and PREJUDICE you owe your miseries, so wonderfully is good and evil balanced, that to PRIDE and PREJUDICE you will also owe their termination... [11][12] (capitalisation as in the original.)

A major theme in much of Austen's work is the importance of environment and upbringing in developing young people's character and morality.[13] Social standing and wealth are not necessarily advantages in her world, and a further theme common to Austen's work is ineffectual parents. In Pride and Prejudice, the failure of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet as parents is blamed for Lydia's lack of moral judgment; Darcy, on the other hand, has been taught to be principled and scrupulously honourable, but he is also proud and overbearing.[13] Kitty, rescued from Lydia's bad influence and spending more time with her older sisters after they marry, is said to improve greatly in their superior society.[14] American novelist Anna Quindlen observed, in an introduction to an edition of Austen's novel in 1995:

Pride and Prejudice is also about that thing that all great novels consider, the search for self. And it is the first great novel that teaches us this search is as surely undertaken in the drawing room making small talk as in the pursuit of a great white whale or the public punishment of adultery.[15]

MarriageEdit
The opening line of the novel famously announces: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."[16] This sets marriage as a central subject -- and really, a central problem -- for the novel generally. Readers are poised to question whether or not these single men are, in fact, in want of a wife, or if such desires are dictated by the "neighbourhood" families and their daughters who require a "good fortune". Marriage is a complex social activity that takes political economy, and economy more generally, into account. In the case of Charlotte Lucas, for example, the seeming success of her marriage lies in the comfortable economy of their household, while the relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Bennet serves to illustrate bad marriages based on an initial attraction and surface over substance (economic and psychological). The Bennets' marriage is one such example that the youngest Bennet, Lydia, will come to re-enact with Wickham, and the results are far from felicitous. Though the central characters, Elizabeth and Darcy, begin the novel as hostile acquaintances and unlikely friends.

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Additional Info

  • Publication Date: June 30, 2018
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Print Length: 373 Pages
  • File Size: 733 KB

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