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‘In what ways is “Pride and Prejudice” a Cinderella story?’

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Introduction

23rd September 2000 Rosanna Moss, 11H G1 'In what ways is "Pride and Prejudice" a Cinderella story?' Cinderella stories, of one type or another, have remained enduringly popular for hundreds of years. There are Cinderella tales originating from every culture and every time period up to the present day. They reflect the 'rags to riches' fantasies of storytellers from all around the world. But what constitutes a Cinderella story? Even though they exist in a vast variety of forms, most have a very similar basic plot. Firstly, there is always a heroine, whose fortunes are to be the focal point of the tale. She is naturally innocent, kind, gentle and beautiful, and always has hardships to bear. For example, in the French version, upon which the Disney animated film is based, Cinderella lives with her weak-willed father and her 'evil' stepmother and stepsisters who treat her appallingly; she is forced to act as a servant to them and is dressed in rags. Very often in these stories, there are a number of magical animals that help Cinderella in some way, and along with Cinderella's Fairy Godmother, enable her to go to the ball, which invariably she has been prevented from attending by her cruel family. At the ball, Cinderella and Prince Charming meet and fall in love instantly, but Cinderella forgets her Godmother's deadline, and has to rush off suddenly, unintentionally leaving behind only one clue as to her true identity for the love-struck hero. After one final setback, usually resulting from Cinderella's interfering and vain stepsiblings, the Prince and his love are re-united and go back to the Palace to be married immediately. Cinderella forgives her family, and they join the happy couple at court and all live 'happily ever after.' ...read more.

Middle

They are both rich men with large estates and good breeding who marry 'below themselves.' Mr Darcy is a proud and arrogant man, who we find out later in the book, actually has a compassionate and generous personality. At first, Mr Darcy does not feel it is appropriate for him to marry into a lower class, but he cannot contain his love for Elizabeth, and this love eventually conquers his pride as I have detailed above. This is unlike Prince Charming because in "Cinderella", the Prince does not mind when he finds out that his unidentified 'Princess' is really a poor servant girl - Cinderella's status doesn't matter to him at all. Mr Bingley, on the other hand, is like Prince Charming in that he doesn't care about Jane's background, and loves her anyway. Mr Bingley's character is summed up by this quote; "'He is just what a young man ought to be,' said she, 'sensible, good-humoured, lively; and I never saw such happy manners! - so much ease, with such perfect good breeding!' 'He is also handsome,' replied Elizabeth, 'which is what a young man ought likewise to be, if he possibly can. His character is thereby complete.'" (Chapter 4.) For Mr Bingley and Mr Darcy, as with Prince Charming, it is love at first sight with Jane and Elizabeth at the Meryton ball, even if Mr Darcy dare not admit his feelings for some time. When Mr Darcy does propose to Elizabeth, she turns him down, but he remains persistent in trying to assure Lizzy of his good nature, and in the same way as the Prince tracks down Cinderella, Mr Darcy proposes for a second time and Lizzy accepts. ...read more.

Conclusion

This shows us that Austen's novel is not a fable but that the events in the book could have actually occurred in early 19th century society. From examining the text of "Pride and Prejudice" and several "Cinderella" tales, I have found many similarities, and some differences between the two narratives. I conclude that although Jane Austen did not intentionally design her novel to be like a fairy tale, there is a definite resemblance to "Cinderella". The plot and subplots of the novel are clearly more complex than in "Cinderella", but most of the individuals have counterparts in the other story. As I said at the beginning of this essay, the main heroine, whether you consider her to be Elizabeth or Jane, 'gets her guy'. In both stories, the wedded couple and their families are more happy and secure than at the start of the tale - they all 'live happily ever after', with Lizzy moving to Pemberley, just as Cinderella moves to the palace. Some people may regard the ending of "Pride and Prejudice" as the most unrealistic and 'fairy story' part of the book. In reality life was very hard, even for the rich, at this time. For example, Elizabeth, like many young women at that time, may have died in childbirth a year later, or perhaps Mr Bingley may have been badly injured a month after the novel finishes in a hunting accident. In my view, "Pride and Prejudice" is simply a daydream; a world into which the reader can escape to avoid the unpleasantries which no doubt occurred in the Georgian period, but which Jane Austen chose to ignore. By doing this, Austen created one of the best-loved and most interesting "Cinderella" stories to date. ...read more.

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