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An analytical commentary on Pride and Prejudice (emphasis: Chapter VI, pp. 21-23)

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Introduction

IB English An analytical commentary on Pride and Prejudice (emphasis: Chapter VI, pp. 21-23) 'It is a truth universally acknowledged,' that an invaluable resource to the study of anthropology is the analysis of literature current to a period of interest. Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" is a novel that casts as vivid a portrait of English society at the turn of the eighteenth-century as Charles Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities" does of a revolutionary France; such authors serve to enrich an understanding of the human condition by presenting eloquently expressed personal insights into history. As such, in reading Pride and Prejudice it is important to recognize an underlying social commentary, which Austen guides not only through the manifest behaviour of her characters, but with subtle yet explicit narrative often of a sarcastic, satirical nature. The narrative body of this passage is essentially constituted by its opening and closing paragraphs; the former concerning itself largely with the introduction of new circumstances - proceeded by an ensuing dialogue between Charlotte and Elizabeth - and the latter primarily concerning itself with pointing out the irony of the preceding dialogue. The first paragraph of this passage is a clear illustration of Austen's critical perception of polite society. With a sardonic wit she describes the formalities of acquaintance in Victorian society, and the social obligations and intrusions presented throughout the novel. References to 'due form' and 'pleasing manners' only serve to highlight the contrived structure of the social interaction, but it is in the Bingley's assessment of the Bennet family and their worth, that is most telling. It is made quite clear that 'the younger sisters [were] not worth speaking to', that Mrs. Bennet was 'intolerable', and Austen goes on to cite a supercilious condescension that Jane perceives in the Bingley family. Importantly, emphasis is also put on the fact that despite the apparent abhorrence felt toward the younger sisters and 'the mother', the Bingley's still express a desire to acquaint themselves with 'them'. ...read more.

Middle

Bennet is "unwanted baggage" that comes inevitably with Jane (another "unfortunate" connection). She is too forward and self-righteous, asserting herself often with inappropriate fervour; like her daughter Elizabeth, Mrs. Bennet flaunts many of the social taboos with the same pigheaded stubbornness, but unlike Elizabeth she does so in an overt and headstrong manner, and to less effect. Her motives also differ from Elizabeth's: Mrs. Bennet married above her station, and behaves as she does because she sees everything else - social respectability included - as subordinate to the pursuit of a good marriage for her daughters. Interestingly enough, Mr. Bennet is largely removed from interactions during the main body of the text, and is most commonly relevant to conversation when references are made to his meager and lowly connections. In this sense, Mr. Bennet (the male patriarch of the Bennet family) is purely a symbol of status for much of the novel. In essence, neither the mother nor the daughters have any tangible socially accepted redeeming features. Hence, Mrs. Bennet is an 'intolerable' woman who must be - to some extent - tolerated, and the younger sisters are a rather loud annoyance 'not worth speaking to'. Mr. Bennet is evidently of such 'low connections' that his consistent absence is largely immaterial. Yet despite all of this, they are still forced to associate with them. It is one of the ironies of the text that the very system of obligation perpetuated by the wealthy proves to be universal, forcing their hand to associate with people they do not like. This is one of several steps taken by Austen to enervate and disempower the wealthy and aristocratic members of society. Throughout the novel she frequently represents them as incompetent1, hypocritical and arrogant2, casting a critical eye over society through the enfeeblement of aristocrats - here in lies the satire of Pride and Prejudice. Now that the mechanics of association have been dealt with, another aspect of this passage can now be drawn upon. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is interesting to note that Darcy's first impression of Elizabeth is just that - his first impression, and so his perception of Elizabeth is constantly evolving in her favour throughout the novel, in almost perfect synchronisation with the reformation of his originally tarnished character. Conversely, Elizabeth proves to be guilty of more severe prejudice maintaining against a mounting body of evidence to the contrary, that Darcy is 'the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world'. Her adherence to this first impression, and Darcy's 'abominable pride' is furiously debated in a highly articulate confrontation, culminating effectively in a mutually beneficial (or mutually degrading, depending on the manner in which the subject is viewed) stalemate. It is furiously, but not without candid humour, determined and acknowledged that Darcy's natural defect is a 'propensity to hate every body', and that Elizabeth's 'is willfully to misunderstand them.' It is in this way that Darcy's obstinacy and pride is reduced throughout the novel, and his arrogant believe in this passage that he should be confused and mortified as to the nature of his attraction to Elizabeth is dispelled. Darcy eventually transcends the boundaries set for him by polite society (as does Elizabeth), and in doing so both are of improved character - Elizabeth has dispelled some of her prejudices and Darcy's immense pride is tempered. It is, therefore, through the development of her central characters outside of the social norms that she criticises so savagely, that Jane Austen paints such a vivid portrait of eighteenth century England. Christopher Bolton HOW MANY TIMES HAVE I SAID SUPERCILLIOUS AND REGARDLESS??? AND AFFECTION AND INFATUATION 7 with the exception of a certain Wickham incident erm... who said baby? 3 --> see page 6 ref. Lizzy is not half as handsome as Jane CHECK/ERASE + REARRANGE ALL FOOTNOTING, CHECK FOR NUMBERS WITH "FIND" EMAIL COPY TO HOTMAIL. 1 The Bingley sisters are the most obvious manifestation of this; during chapter ten Miss Bingley reveals herself to be vacuous and foolish through her ill-received yet persistent coquetry 2 Darcy first proposes to Elizabeth stating that "[his] feelings will not be repressed" ...read more.

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