Book Review: “Pride And Prejudice”
Pride and Prejudice was originally sold for copyright in 1812 for £110 after Austen had initially asked for £150. Austen had written this story during the period known as the Georgian period because King George III ruled England at the time. This story, much like much of Austen’s other works, falls into the genre of “comedy of manners”.
The main conflict of this story is Character vs. Character. This is shown throughout the story from Elizabeth Bennet’s very clear opinion of Mr. Darcy. It is also shown through the treatment of the Bennet family, Jane most of all, from the Bingley sisters. Another primary conflict present throughout this story is that of Character vs. Society. This conflict is primarily shown through stereotypical social beliefs for the time of this book being written. The main one being that with the Bennet’s consisting only of female heirs, once Mr. Bennet passes the estate will go to Mr. Collins in order to keep the property in the family. In turn, this will leave the Bennet daughters with very little, putting a tremendous amount of stress on Jane Bennet, the eldest daughter, to marry wealthy.
Elizabeth Bennet is the protagonist of Pride and Prejudice. This story is told mainly from her perspective and the reader is given most details as she obtains them herself. Elizabeth wants to marry the one she truly loves and respects, not just someone her mother wants to bid her off to. Her desire is blinded by her tendency to judge one’s character far too quickly and allows other opinions to impact her own. An example of this is her decision of what kind of person Mr. Darcy is, and refuses to find any good in him. At the end of the novel, Elizabeth realizes that people can be both more than a first impression and more than other opinions. Due to this change of character, Elizabeth can see who Darcy truly is and she ends up married to him in the end.
The antagonists in this story are Mrs. Bennet along with Lady de Burgh. Mrs. Bennet, Elizabeth’s mother, is an antagonist because throughout the story, she is constantly trying to force her daughters into a marriage with anyone well known and of high standing that shows interest. Lady de Burgh is an antagonist because she attempts to prevent Elizabeth from marrying someone that she truly loves. They have different intensions, but both antagonists find Elizabeth’s actions despicable. Both are furious with Elizabeth’s intensions to follow her heart, and attempt to control her, but ultimately accept her marriage and allow her to make her own decisions in life.
One complication in this story is gender roles in society. Gender roles are very prominent in Pride and Prejudice. During the time this story was written, men and women were set very far apart from one another and they had different opinions during this time. Marriage was something women were urged into since those in higher class were unable to work and provide an income for themselves. Another complication in this story is class and social ranking. The Bennet family is considered middle class and, while they associate with the Bingleys and Darcys, it is still made clear where they stand. Therefore Mrs. Bennet is keen on marrying her daughters off to someone with a high standing. Austen criticizes this with the involvement of the Darcy-Elizabeth and Bingley-Jane marriages. A finale complication in this story is marriage. During this time, marriage was the only option for who held respect. They were unable to work for themselves and unable to collect an income on their own. Due to this, marriage was the only option for most women, and it would be the most important as well. Many female characters in this story let the idea of it consume and control them in what they would do.
Pride and Prejudice is told in a narration style that is omniscient; we’re told the story through Elizabeth’s eye’s but not in first person, more so third. The narrator of this story has access to other characters, and sometimes makes their perspective known to the reader. As the narrator tells the story, they include many of Elizabeth’s own thoughts or feelings. From this, the reader can sense the tone the author carried while writing this. The tone that Austen portrayed when she wrote was one of sarcasm and degrades those in higher class society. Austen also wrote to express her views on social classes, gender roles, and people in high society. While reading, the mood one has is that of realism and a practical understanding.
The climax to this story begins when Darcy proposes to Elizabeth. The proposal is important to the story because it represents how they feel about one another based on many of the misconceptions they had. To follow this, this is also when Elizabeth discovers the truth of Wickham and his elopement to her youngest sister, Lydia. This proposal allows for prior misconceptions to be clarified.
The resolution of Pride and Prejudice comes from the main characters final happiness and the realization that romantic love can be found in marriage, along with the main characters achieving that point of love and happiness. The novel concludes with some of the Bennet sisters being married and others, besides Lydia, discovering prosperity and happiness as well.
Pride and Prejudice is set in England at some point during the late 1700s to the early 1800s. The exact dates are unknown. It can be assumed that Austen based the novel off the same time period she wrote during (1796-1813). Time period is prominent in Austen’s writings due to the topics being discussed and the impact they are intended to have on its readers.
One prominent theme in this story is love. In this story, there are many marriages and it is talked about much, but love is not the primary target for marriage. For the characters in this story, and people during the time this story was written, marriage was more of a transaction it was for the intention of love. For them, romantic love is a privilege that most don’t have the ability to obtain. This theme is important for the book and time it was written for because during this time, this wasn’t just a story, this was how most viewed marriage and Austen challenged this idea through her writing. Another theme in this story is wealth. Mrs. Bennett’s main goal throughout almost the entire book is to marry her daughters off to those who have enough money to supply for them. This goal is true for most others as well to avoid having nothing when their father is to pass away since they are unable to work for themselves and their home and money will be transferred to Mr. Collins.
The primary theme of Pride and Prejudice is, as stated, pride and prejudice. This novel shows an excess amount of pride and show how it can get in the way of one’s happiness. Many characters in this story have pride, primarily amongst the wealthy. In this novel, prejudice is a flaw in many characters. Unlike pride, prejudice is not automatically a bad thing according to the novel, if there is not an excess amount of it. Both pride and prejudice blind many of the characters and effect their primary decisions. For this story, both are important because they help to build character development and, in a sense, protects the character from what may happen. This relates to life because rather than being safe in her writing, Austen focuses on real topics as well as how people truly are and their mental structure.
I believe that this novel truly is successful because it is well rounded with a strong storyline to follow. This novel focuses on characters that are all well-crafted and are still recognizable and discussed over two-hundred years later. The purpose of this novel is to show how characteristics can cause one to be blinded by the truth and the impact others have on one’s opinion. Austen was successful in carrying this out because she shows not only during, but the development of characters as the begin to change and learn from how they once were. The audience this book would best be best for is young due to the topics discussed and what they would be able to learn from that and how they will grow from what they learn.
For as well-known as this story is, there is not much focus on this story from critics. The reviews that are written about Pride and Prejudice, focus more on Jane Austen as an author instead of mainly on the story. One review from Barbara Schultz with Common Sense Media discusses the positive impact it may have on its young reader’s and what they can learn from the story. Shultz also expresses her appreciation for Austen’s observations and clever dialogue which helps develop well rounded characters and a better story overall. She states that “Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy are two of the most romantic and memorable characters in the whole of English literature, and their story never fails to entertain”. Form reading this article, it helps the reader to gain a better understanding for what was intended to be learned from reading the story. From reading this review, one may also gain insight on what other readers have taken away from reading the story and could observe certain scenes in a different way that what was interpreted. Another review is from Susan Chira with the New York Times.
In her review she focuses on how she turned to reading for solace and picked up Pride and Prejudice along the way. In her review, she discusses how the story focuses on many current topics, as they were current during that time as well. From reading this review, the reader may gain a greater appreciation for this story and may be encouraged to read it again later. A reader may also understand that the first time reading this book, many things may be missed and will once again be encouraged to read it again to find smaller details. From reading these reviews, I as a reader, have a new view of this story and the impact it has. I also am inspired to read Pride and Prejudice to be able to enjoy it as a story and not just for an assignment.
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