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

Compare the ways in which Austen and Waugh present relationships between the sexes within a satirical context in 'Pride and Prejudice' and 'A Handful of Dust.'

Extracts from this document...


Compare the ways in which Austen and Waugh present relationships between the sexes within a satirical context in 'Pride and Prejudice' and 'A Handful of Dust.' Relationships between the sexes in 'Pride and Prejudice' by Jane Austen and 'A Handful of Dust' by Evelyn Waugh are often portrayed within a satirical context. Each author uses different methods of effectively displaying the variety of interactions between opposite sexes. The two novels may seem unusual pieces to compare as they were written more than one hundred and thirty years apart, causing the authors to write from noticeably different biographical perspectives and contrasting historical contexts, yet when I analysed the novels closely I became aware that they were surprisingly similar compositions in terms of theme and approach, therefore allowing me to compare the themes and techniques of the two authors. Firstly, both authors focus their novels upon sexual relationships in contemporary society, equally within and outside marriage. Each novelist writes about the society he/she lives in and what they believe society's attitude would be to these relationships. The approach of both is satirical, that is, they employ a comic mode to explain a serious moral. Both authors in their opening chapters display this comic approach. Firstly, Austen's opening sentence is seen to be epigrammatic as her sarcastic, witty authorial view comes into play: 'It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.' This is ironic as it is the women of society who hunt men who have money. The satirical tone is therefore established from the beginning of the novel and these opening lines raise the interconnection of money and marriage, a major theme of the novel. Moreover, Evelyn Waugh like Austen uses an incisive, ironic tone: 'What with Brenda's pretty ways and Tony's good sense, it was not surprising that their friends pointed to them as a pair who were pre-eminently successful in solving the problem of getting along well together.' ...read more.


Everyone has known for some time.' making us believe that on an emotional level his callous nature will not bode well in his relationship with Brenda. Therefore, once again, we are forced back on our own judgement as with the match of Charlotte and Mr Collins in 'Pride and Prejudice.' Ultimately the ambivalence has to be conceded: the ironic nature of both authors throughout their novels leads to double meanings and the balancing of conflicting interpretations. Therefore here, we have to weigh expediency with principle, romance with realism, to decide whether we term these relationships successful or otherwise. The eighteenth century law of primogeniture led to another aspect of the prudential marriage, which Austen explores in 'Pride and Prejudice.' Marriages were sometimes arranged so as to keep money within the family. Certainly the ownership and transmission of wealth via marriage is a pre-occupation of Lady Catherine de Bourgh as she is determined that her daughter Anne, will marry Mr Darcy, a match so far removed from romantic notions and personal predilection that Austen's satire is virulent: 'From their infancy they have been intended for each other. It was the favourite wish of his mother as well as of hers.' This importance of money is seen in Elizabeth's relations with Wickham and Colonel Fitzwilliam. Mrs Gardiner warns her not to become too involved with Wickham: ' Do not involve yourself...in an affection which the want of fortune would make so very imprudent.' We can therefore see that the cash nexus features closely with marriage in another sense. Young men, often young sons, have a tendency to try and raise their failing fortunes via a prudential, advantageous match, something Elizabeth experiences regularly in the novel. Females needed the status of marriage to survive in the patriarchal society of the eighteenth century. Marriage promised security and a transmission of wealth allowing ladies to achieve a desired status. ...read more.


I therefore believe it is important for her to show us the necessary characteristics for a successful marriage. Secondly, there is the view that the end of 'Pride and Prejudice' may just be as intelligent marriage of resolution. As the critic Karen Newman says: 'Marriage is the reaching of self-knowledge, the overcoming of egoism, the mark of psychic development.' Two individuals have resolved their differences and decided to get married therefore not making any particular statement, but, realising they have found a perfect match, act upon this. I believe Jane Austen's reasoning goes further though. She shows through Darcy and Elizabeth a blissfully jubilant marriage, not of convenience but of desire. They will have money, but neither married because of it. Both characters have received a reward, a marriage of love, for the self-truths they have faced and overcome. I suspect Jane Austen wants to embody in the novel all the qualities of a good marriage. As the critic Stuart Tave expressed it: '...in this marriage two properly humbled people have learned to bear mortification and rise above it through love.' In conclusion, both novels have deep, informative messages, which gives their composition extreme relevance. As the novels were written in different times, there are obvious social changes, which are recognisable throughout, causing characters to have noticeably different opinions, particularly to sexual relations exterior to marriage and divorce. In their different structures the novels also stand apart. Both authors regularly employ a satirical mode to explain how unconventional couples, failed marriages, and society's immense satisfaction in the misfortune of unsuccessful companionships can often be seen as comic. In 'Pride and Prejudice' though there is a beneficial element showing the serious qualities needed for a sincere marriage, something entirely lacking in 'A Handful of Dust.' Through the closing union of Elizabeth and Darcy, a marriage containing social imperatives following its law and duty to family and the expression of individuality through romantic love, the novel is saved from the cynical, gloomy vision, which is apparent to us in 'A Handful of Dust.' ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Jane Austen section.

Found what you're looking for?

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

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 GCSE Jane Austen essays

  1. An exploration of Men and Women's relationships in Jane Austen's 'Pride and 'Prejudice

    This can be shown when Austen reveals, "Her father captivated by youth and beauty and that appearance of good humour which youth and beauty generally give had married a women whose weak understanding and illiberal mind had very early in the marriage put an end to all real affection to her."

  2. How does Jane Austen Present the role of Women in Pride and Prejudice?

    of money you earned every year, you will also need to have a good family background. The richest man in Netherfield was the respected Darcy. He earns �10 000 each year and he was with his aunt 'Lady Catherine de bourgh' who was an aristocrat.

  1. How does Jane Austen reflect the social and historical context of her time in ...

    Perhaps the strongest believer in the importance of social status in the novel is Lady Catherine de Bourgh. She seems to cherish the values and behaviour of the previous century and symbolises the old aristocracy, as Collins himself states, "She likes having the distinction of rank preserved."

  2. How far does the theme of prejudice dominate the novels "Pride and Prejudice" by ...

    Elizabeth vanity clouds her judgement, making her prone to think ill of Darcy and to think well of Wickham. Prejudice is another theme, one cannot equate Darcy with pride and Elizabeth with prejudice. Darcy's pride of place is founded on social prejudice; he must overcome his prejudice in order to see that Elizabeth would be a good wife to him.

  1. Portrayal of Marriage in Pride and Prejudice.

    Mr Darcy told the Gardiners he was doing this because he felt responsible, because of his 'mistaken pride' he had not let anybody know about Wickham's real character. Elizabeth feels very grateful. She now acknowledges that she loves him and is very proud of the way e has acted.

  2. In Pride and Prejudice, what views does Jane Austen convey to us regarding Pride, ...

    Jane Austen shows through Elizabeth that a happy relationship cannot work if Elizabeth's prejudice is not overcome. Elizabeth gives what Mr Wickham told her as one reason not to marry him among man others Elizabeth also blamed him for her sister not being married to Mr Bingly.

  1. Discuss Jane Austen's treatment of the theme of marriage in Pride and Prejudice.

    In chapter 35, Darcy gives Elizabeth a letter, I think the fact that he didn't tell her face to face shows that he is not very accomplished at talking openly with people he has not known for a long period of time.

  2. Examine the way in which both Austen and Shakespeare present a spirited female lead.

    This also allows Shakespeare to add another dimension to Beatrice's character, in helping to explain the reason that it is particularly "Signor Benedick" who experiences the sharp side of Beatrice's tongue and why it is important that Benedick thinks that he is "loved of all ladies, only you excepted."

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