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How effective are the opening chapters of Pride and Prejudice

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Introduction

'How effective are the opening chapters of 'Pride and Prejudice' in introducing the reader to the main characters and themes of the novel?' Jane Austen's romantic novel 'Pride and Prejudice' explores the society of the early 1800's; a society heavily influenced by marriage, manners and social etiquette. Jane Austen writes about these social influences as the main themes of the novel, which are very effectively introduced in the first few chapters. Being part of this society herself, Jane Austen experienced life as a woman whose purpose in life should have been to marry. However, she died a spinster after rejecting the proposal from a man whom she did not love. She writes about her ideal of the ideal marriage; a marriage where the couple must have mutual respect and understanding of each other. In 'Pride and Prejudice', the main character, Elizabeth Bennet, demonstrates this opinion of marriage. She does not want to marry for money or social background, but for love. He father, Mr Bennet understands this. He says to her when he is questioning her about marrying Mr Darcy: 'I know you could be neither happy nor respectable, unless you truly esteemed your husband'. Lizzy's character, along with her family and Mr Darcy are the main characters that are very effectively introduced in the first three chapters. The title 'Pride and Prejudice' is instantly effective because it introduces us to the main theme of the novel. ...read more.

Middle

'It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.' This statement is satirising society, suggesting that the purpose of a woman's life should be to marry. Not marry because of love, but of social status and future prospects. A woman needed a good marriage to save herself from becoming an 'old maid'. The first three chapters are particularly effective in introducing the theme of marriage because once it has been suggested that every young woman should seek to be married, Jane Austen later in the novel presents us with several examples of marriage. One of these examples is Charlotte Lucas and her marriage to Mr Collins. After being rejected by Elizabeth, Mr Collins proposes to Charlotte, who accepts merely because she is 'not a romantic... [she asks] only a comfortable home'. This is an example of marrying for security. Charlotte is intelligent enough to know that whereas she might not be happy with Mr Collins, he will provide stability and status. Other examples of the wrong kind of marriage include the wedlock of Lydia and Mr Wickham and Mr and Mrs Bennet. Lydia's wedding is completed in haste, so that she does not put her family into social jeopardy. However, their relationship soon sinks into indifference by the end of the novel. ...read more.

Conclusion

Elizabeth is forced to bite her tongue. She cannot express her anger because good manners have been bred into her since birth so that despite being insulted, she wouldn't turn around to confront Lady Catherine in return. She merely replies 'you can now have nothing further to say...you have insulted me in every possible method. I must beg to return to the house.' Here is a key example of how society manners can be extremely unfair to those of a lesser wealth. In conclusion, the first three chapters of 'Pride and Prejudice' effectively introduce the main themes and characters of the novel very well because they give the reader understanding of the social etiquette of the 1800's and give the reader first impressions of the main characters, which then change as we get to know them. I think that the most effective introductions are of Mr Darcy and Elizabeth. The first impressions that we get are of Mr Darcy's pride against dancing with anyone of a lesser class than him, and Elizabeth's prejudice towards upper class snobs. We see them change their opinions of each other and the struggles of social difference that they must overcome to be together. It is this that makes 'Pride and Prejudice' such a memorable love story that still captures new audiences in the film adaptations today. The novel is still relevant the modern world. It can teach us about judging people before we get to know them and gives us an understanding about the culture from which we came. ?? ?? ?? ?? Page 1 ...read more.

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