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Other novels of the time, such as "The Swiss Family Robinson" and "The Dairyman's Daughter," were moralistic Christian tales, and novels of fear and terror were also becoming popular, such as "Tales of the Dead" and tales of Dracula-like beings. Thus, Austen was bucking tradition with her novel, combining wit, romance, and satire against the very society that was reading it. Her novel was exceedingly popular at the time, leading the reader to think that at least some contemporary readers saw the reality of her criticism in its pages, and appreciated it. That could be at least part of the reason the book has retained its popularity for so long.
There is another important element of the novel that continues to send a moral message to the reader, and that is the element of pride, also present in the title. Another literary critic notes, "Elizabeth's pride not only inclines her to a prejudice against Darcy, it engenders an arrogant certainty that her reading of events is the only possible one" (Bonaparte). Indeed, Elizabeth is contemptuous of Darcy's seemingly arrogant and prideful nature, and yet, she cannot contemplate that he might be any different from her own assessment of him and his flaws. It takes her nearly half the book to admit she may be wrong, illustrating to the reader that her own pride is just a serious flaw as the prejudice and misunderstandings that crowd the novel.
Two critics call the "rise of the novel" in the early 19th century as a rise based on changes in ideas and society. They write, "The rise of the novel, then, represents an expression not only of new ideologies of gender and marriage but also of universal desire explained by evolutionary psychology; nowhere can this be seen more clearly than in the most canonical of domestic novels, Jane Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice'" (Stasio, and Duncan). Thus, they include this novel in the literary canon of the time, but it still continues to be canonical in nature. Thus, Elizabeth represents a new breed of heroine in the romantic novel, as well. She refuses marriage several times (nearly unthinkable at the time), and is not afraid of her lower social position or the possibility that she may remain unmarried, a "spinster" in a society geared toward marriage and the upper classes of society. Another critic notes that this "new," novel heroine is also unconcerned with the architectural and design details that seemed to permeate other novels of the time. She writes, "Until Elizabeth reaches Pemberley, architectural issues seem only to be the preoccupation of comic and shallow characters who, presumably, do not have the resources of mind that would render such details less important" (Thornton). This is another deviation from the "female" novels of the time, but it is another witty criticism by the author, as well. By creating a heroine who is atypical, with atypical outlooks on society, she has created a canonical novel that stands the test of time and still seems relevant in many ways today. True, the language reflects the time it was written, but the content and characters are far ahead of their time, and this makes this novel a true part of the canon of western culture and novels that truly influence thought and the entire genre.
In conclusion, "Pride and Prejudice" is a witty romantic novel that contains social commentary as well, and it remains a viable member of the literary canon of western culture. It has witty characters, memorable messages, new ideas, and a tone that sets it apart from other novels of the time, which certainly makes it an important and valuable member of the literary family. Its continued popularity helps indicate just how important this work has become, and how it has influenced the literary landscape for nearly 200 years.
Armstrong, Isobel. "Introduction." Pride and Prejudice. Ed. James Kinsley. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980. vii-xxvi.
Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. Ed. James Kinsley. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980.
Bonaparte, Felicia. "Conjecturing Possibilities: Reading and Misreading Texts in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice." Studies in the Novel 37.2 (2005): 141+.
Gilman, Priscilla. "Disarming Reproof': Pride and Prejudice and the Power of Criticism." Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal (2000): 218+.
Stasio, Michael J., and Kathryn Duncan. "An Evolutionary Approach to Jane Austen: Prehistoric Preferences in Pride and Prejudice." Studies in the Novel 39.2 (2007): 133+.
Thornton, Anne. "A Mind of Her…[continue]
Chapter 50 shows this in the gossip and the interest people partake in of the relationship of Mr. Wickham and Lydia. "How Wickham and Lydia were to be supported in tolerable independence, she could not imagine. But how little of permanent happiness could belong to a couple who were only brought together because their passions were stronger than their virtue, she could easily conjecture." (Austen, 596) Good marriages, at least
A discussion between friends casts a light on the issue of pride, which appears to be Darcy's main enemy in his relationship with the society outside his most intimate acquaintances. Miss Lucas, one of the friends of the Bennet girls finds an excuse for Darcy's overflow of pride through his social status, fortune and image. Elisabeth agrees with her, but she also admits that her pride is even bigger than
The fact that marriage is the only real option open to women and that to be unmarried is to a certain extent to be a social misfit, is central to the social critique and the understanding of gender stereotypes that Austen expertly reveals to the reader. The above view is emphasized in a number of studies of this Novel. For example, while the contemporary reader "... may think that Pride
Jane From reading this book, it is apparent that Jane is misunderstand too because she supports Elizabeth in her decision even though she is the older sister, which gives her the role to correct her by society's standards. When Elizabeth herself becomes engaged to Darcy, Jane is the first person she tells. "My sole dependence was on you; I am sure nobody else will believe me if you do not." Jane
Freedom of the Mind Is Freedom From Prejudice: Personal Renewal From Jane Austen's Classic, Pride And Prejudice For years, reading has been both a necessity and luxury for me. Reading, as a necessity, is an imperative for students like me who need to be constantly needed to be updated and knowledgeable about their chosen fields of expertise. Similarly, in times of leisure, reading provides me with new insights and discoveries about
Pride and Prejudice Additional Pages Casal, Elvira. "Laughing at Mr. Darcy: Wit and Sexuality in Pride and Prejudice." Persuasions On-Line 22.1 (2001): n. pag. Web. Casal discusses comedy, laughter and wit as Austen's basic thematic concerns within Pride and Prejudice. She begins her analysis with a discussion of the conversation between Miss Bingley and Elizabeth Bennett, which concludes with Elizabeth's expostulation "Mr. Darcy is not to be laughed at!" Casal notes that
Darcy. All of these problems are worked out by the conclusion of the novel, but not before Lydia has run off with Mr. Wickham and eloped. This is considered a great disgrace and a shame for the Bennet's because it is found out that Mr. Wickham is not a very wholesome character and in fact has quite a few skeletons in his closet. But Lydia does not seem to
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