Pride and Prejudice
Author: Jane Austen
Jane Austen began her second novel, Pride and Prejudice, before she was twenty-one. It was originally titled First Impression because the appearances 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 found the title Pride and Prejudice more appropriate.
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 which best carries 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 daughter who is devoted to a life of dancing, fashions, gossips and flirting; and
Mr. Williams Collins, the silly and conceited baboon who is completely stupify 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 visits to Lizzy at Longbourn, provides 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.