• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How far do you agree that Jane Austens novel Pride and Prejudice is no more than an entertaining study of the surface of polite society and its trivial doings?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

How far do you agree that Jane Austen's novel 'Pride and Prejudice' is 'no more than an entertaining study of the surface of polite society and its trivial doings'? In 'Pride and Prejudice there certainly is a great deal of comedy, and will appeal to many readers for what Claire Tomalin calls 'its good-humoured comedy, its sunny heroine, its dream denouement'. The two main characters appear to be part of what Vivien Jones calls a typical 'rags-to-riches love story', maintaining happiness after a series of vicissitudes, which might incline readers to think it rather superficial. The critic talks about the surface trivia of Austen's society, which seems to comprise only of balls, scarlet coats and Muslin gowns, but she probes beneath the surface of her society, and concerns herself with the real confinement of the lives of women in her period. Jane Austen explores how women were victims of a patriarchal society, by presenting the unfairness of the entail. She presents Mr. Collins as a fool, by bluntly stating through the critical objective narrative that he 'was not a sensible man'. By this we see that it is ridiculous that such an imbecile should be able to turn out the two rational sisters Jane and Elizabeth ...read more.

Middle

fame had fallen short of the truth'. Austen tells us 'this gallantry was not much to the taste of some of his readers', highlighting his obsequiency with the objective narrative. However, his proposal to Elizabeth reveals something much crueler and darker beneath this facade. He knows of the importance of money 'in a narrow, desperate, feminine world of financial constraint' (Robert Polhemous), he and plays on this by explaining that he would not ask for any money from Mr Bennet, reminding her 'I am well aware that it could not be complied with'. In the same way Charlotte finds herself in a position of little choice, and because of her little fortune she finds herself forced to marry the fool, as 'it was the only honourable provision for well-educated young women of small fortune'. Jane Austen points out the cruelty of this situation with a scathing tone of criticism of her society, using abstract evaluative language to emphasise her point that 'however uncertain of giving happiness, [marriage] must be their pleasantest preservative from want'. Once more Collins ceases an opportunity to exploit financial dependency, and Robert Polhemus states that 'Charlotte's cast must concern anyone who thinks seriously about the history of women', summarising her situation as 'a kind of socially respectable prostitution'. ...read more.

Conclusion

Collins, whom believed she did 'secretly mean to accept', Mr Darcy, who we are told 'had no doubt of a favourable answer'. Elizabeth insists in both cases this because of a lack of 'desire', proving her search for a husband also one for rational happiness, an idea which Austen presents as the only way for Claire Tomalin's 'dream denouement'. To gain happiness he also demonstrated a eveloement throughout the novel, as he was educated from pride and prejudice to his own rational happiness. This is demonstrated as he goes from seeing her family connections as a 'degradation' to allowing Mr Gardiner, the Uncle in trade, to become 'always on the most intimate terms' come the end of the novel. So, through development of morals and search that delves below surface trivialities our protagonists are allowed their happy ending, which is much in contrast to those characters with little choice of few morals. We see that through the use of her comic characters Austen actually demonstrates a much more sinister side to her society, and the constraint felt by women of the time is evidence that she is reporting on much more than just a 'polite society'. 28th January '11 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Jane Austen section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

3 star(s)

The essay has a very promising beginning, and if it had maintained a sharp focus on 'the confinement of the lives of women' it could have been persuasive. However, the argument begins to ramble, and is overdependent on quotations from critics to the exclusion of textual quotation and engagement with the text. Errors of spelling, grammar and expression undermine the overall effect.
***

Marked by teacher Val Shore 17/06/2012

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Jane Austen essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Plot-Construction of Pride and Prejudice

    4 star(s)

    Nature too, is rarely described and her characters are usually presented indoors with an occasional expedition or picnic thrown in. According to Andrew H. Wright, the novels of Jane Austen can be considered on three levels of meaning: first, the purely local-illustrative of country life among the upper middle-classes at the end of eighteenth century in Southern England.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Is it possible to see Elizabeth Bennet as a feminist heroine?

    3 star(s)

    chances of happiness with him is as fair, as most people can boast on entering the marriage state'. Austen paints a bleak picture of this marriage for the reader, deeming it 'impossible' for Charlotte 'to be tolerably happy', and her position reveals the difficulties facing young women, and the pressure on them to marry.

  1. Marked by a teacher

    How does Jane Austen present Mr Collins in Pride and Prejudice

    3 star(s)

    Mr Bennet comments on the letter that his cousin seems to be a 'peace making gentleman' and a most 'conscientious and polite young man'. He states that Mr Collins may prove to be 'a valuable acquaintance especially if Lady Catherine should be so indulgent as to let him come to us again'.

  2. 'Blackout' is a short story by Roger Mais. It is set in Jamaica and ...

    During this short story there is always this feeling of menace and some kind of threat which is created by the blackout and the odd conversation between the two. This feeling is created especially at the beggining, introduction of the story when the blackout and the loneliness were being described by Mais.

  1. Compare and Contrast how Jane Austen Represents Social Class In Emma and Pride and ...

    would soon produce something- Offices for the sale-not quite of human flesh-but of human intellect' (35,279) This difference in situation between Elizabeth and Emma results in the reader getting a view of regency life from two very different vantage points.

  2. How does Jane Austen present the themes of love and marriage in the novel ...

    By asking Harriet questions about the Robert Martin, she criticises and tells Harriet clear that he is not a suitable match for her. Emma tells Harriet to compare him to better men such as Mr Weston or Mr Elton. She decides Mr Elton would suit Harriet, as he is from a higher social class than Robert Martin.

  1. Compare and contrast the short stories "Mr. Loveday's Little outing" by Evelyn Waugh, and ...

    They are going to visit Lord Moping, Angela's father in the County Asylum and again, through the latter's wife's manner of speech we can see that she does not approve of her husband being in an Asylum.

  2. Compare and contrast Hester Prynne (The scarlet letter) and Elizabeth Proctor (The Crucible).

    Her husband had been absent so long that she thought he didn't love her anymore, which drove her to fall in love with Dimmesdale and commit adultery. Elizabeth Proctor believed in the Puritan way and was considered one of the most prominent religious persons in Salem.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work