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How does Jane Austen present these proposals, and how does she persuade the reader to support Elizabeth's reactions?

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Introduction

How does Jane Austen present these proposals, and how does she persuade the reader to support Elizabeth's reactions? During the novel Pride and Prejudice, there are several proposals of marriage. Marriage itself is one of the main themes of the book. This is shown instantaneously by the famous opening sentence. We are told immediately how important marriage was in Jane Austen's era. However we also find out throughout the course of the book how marriage wasn't always about love. Charlotte Lucas claimed, "Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance". A very common view then, that Austen herself would have been very familiar with. Often marriages were more like business deals, simply a means of acquiring an establishment where habitually feelings weren't relevant. There was the mercenary marriage, brought about for financial reasons, the marriage based on passion and physical attraction, and lying somewhere in between, was the ideal. This was often how Elizabeth and Darcy's or Jane and Bingley's marriages were described. An interesting point about the proposals in Pride and Prejudice, is that we never actually see the successful ones, they are all done rather quickly, without us really being able to notice exactly what went on. The first proposal of the book is in Chapter 19. It is a very surprising proposal from Mr Collins to Elizabeth, the second oldest Bennet girl. Right from the beginning, Austen makes no falsifications to us about Mr Collins. ...read more.

Middle

Elizabeth has already been established as the main focus of the reader's compassion, against the droll disposition of Mr Collins, and this is an arduous and gruelling speech that she is made to sit through. He repeatedly makes things worse for himself throughout by adding that it was "almost" as soon as he had entered the house he began to like her, not immediately. He is also incessantly condescending to her and her family. His forte is certainly not flattery! From Mr Collins's proposal, a lot can be learnt about the characters of both him and Elizabeth. Elizabeth is polite, firm and assertive and by far the most strong-minded character featured. She knows what she wants from life and takes the correct steps in achieving her aims. Mr. Collins, however, is much less of a character. He is overtly arrogant, audacious and na�ve. He is selfish, pompous and arrogant. He lacks perception and is tactless. The reason that Austen perhaps wrote it in direct speech is that it is so implausible for the reader to believe. Later on in the book, comes the second proposal by Mr Darcy, possibly Elizabeth's least favourite character. He began his speech in an "agitated manner", and claimed to have struggled in "vain". From the beginning of this proposal we can see that his reasons for marriage are substantially different to those of Mr Collins. However, reminiscent of Mr Collins, the proposal of Darcy was not romantic, more resentful. ...read more.

Conclusion

Mr Darcy had also hurt her pride, as the people of Meryton and she had already marked him as "the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world", and this was an insult for him to propose to her, especially after he had ruined her sister's marriage. Elizabeth does not hesitate to judge Darcy on the deficient evidence that she has against him, and does not vacillate to accuse him and judge him on the most unpretentious terms. In fact this is a very good example of the title, "Pride and Prejudice", or the working title of the novel, "First Impressions". This title is helpful because it alerts us to the dangers of making crude judgment about people without knowing enough about them. Throughout the book this is done frequently, even by Elizabeth, something the first time reader doesn't often notice. In view of this we are able to start to identify how Jane Austen is able to convince the reader to endorse Elizabeth's decisions and utterly agree with her. We empathise and have compassion with Elizabeth all the way through the novel, as she is clearly Austen's favourite character, and the one through whom she speaks her thoughts. I think that these proposals, and in fact the whole novel itself are written with great skill by Austen, one of the reasons the novel is still so popular today, nearly 200 years later. It is a timeless piece of English Literature. Charlotte Elliott 10W ...read more.

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