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Austen wrote that Pride and Prejudice is too light, and bright, and sparkling; it wants shade. How far and In what ways do you agree with Austens view of her own novel?

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Introduction

Austen wrote that Pride and Prejudice 'is too light, and bright, and sparkling; it wants shade'. How far and In what ways do you agree with Austen's view of her own novel? Austen believed that Pride and Prejudice was 'too light, and bright' and said it needed to be 'stretched' out with 'long paragraphs of sense'. Indeed others have taken the view that Pride and Prejudice is nothing more than a comedy and a pretty love story. For example in his 2005 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, Joe Wright focuses hugely on the love and the humour arguably removing any 'shade'. It can be considered that some characters have no function other than to be caricatures. They are there to poke fun at society and provide humour. For example Mary, whose every action is exaggerated and shown to be lacking. 'Mary wished to say something very sensible, but knew not how' here the 'very' makes her desire seem childish by accentuating it and combined with her inability 'knew not how' completely undermines her intelligence. Both the narrator and the characters mock Mary suggesting there is no real substance to her, 'what say you Mary? For you are a young lady of deep reflection I know.' ...read more.

Middle

The subject is removed from Mrs Bennet's comic level of obsession by the omniscient narrator's statement of, ' without ever thinking highly of either men or matrimony marriage had always been her object'. The lexis is more sophisticated than that associated with Mrs Bennet and the slow pace mimics contemplation suggesting Charlotte's deep consideration of both the pros and cons of marriage. The lines 'happiness in marriage is purely a matter of chance' and 'it is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life' seem to possess no humour or irony. Indeed they reveal the sheer horror of the situation Charlotte is facing and undoubtedly add shade to the novel. Whilst other serious issues are accompanied with 'sparkling' humour and irony, the shady subtext is immiscible. Perhaps on face value Austen's Pride and Prejudice is 'light' and 'bright', however, in the subtext is a dark portrayal of a society with many flaws. The opening line, 'it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man, in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife' is truly comic in its irony that of course the want is purely reversed. ...read more.

Conclusion

This suggests a lack of care in the end as if Austen is only interested in the growth and not the conclusion. The end acts as a summary and consequently. The lack of dialogue removes the reader from the narration as they lose access, It also seems very perfect and lacking of flaws, ' Elizabeth and Jane and all possible happiness were within 20 miles of one another.' However, this excess of 'light, and bright, and sparkling(ness)' might reference to the fact that a marriage did not just affect the couple but everyone. Hence Darcy's original hesitation over marrying Elizabeth and getting a 'charming mother in law' and hence Charlotte's family's relief when she marries Collins. The happy tone mimics the happiness and relief in society though the hyperbole, 'all possible happiness' might point to the falseness and underlying issues still in need of fixing. However, it seems apparent that Pride and Prejudice is brimming with shade. Admittedly this shade is underlying the 'light, and bright' humour but in Austen's time it would have been improper to directly and openly attack society. Humour is rarely used without an accompanying moral statement or judgement, and some serious issues are dealt with to such a high degree that it appears impossible to argue, as Austen does, that Pride and Prejudice is too 'light, and bright, and sparkling'. ...read more.

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