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How effectively does the opening chapter of 'Pride and Prejudice' introduce the reader to the central characters and concerns of the novel?

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Introduction

How effectively does the opening chapter of 'Pride and Prejudice' introduce the reader to the central characters and concerns of the novel? The opening sentence of 'Pride and Prejudice' tells is the main theme of the entire novel, marriage. 'It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.' The novel is based upon the theme of marriage, finding a potential husband who has 'sufficient funds'. Jane, Elizabeth, Lydia, Kitty and Mary all wish to find themselves husbands so that they can be married off to a man who has a large annual wage and also a large inheritance. In the days of when 'Pride and Prejudice' was set (in the 1800s), inheritance and yearly wage were very important factors which women looked for in a man as they longed for financial security for when they were older. The girls in the novel, had to marry because if they didn't have any brothers, their fortune and estate could be lost to a male blood relative, leaving them homeless and penniless. Therefore marriage was a very important factor in their lives and also in this novel. Jane Austen wanted her book to portray normal life, with normal people, so it was essential that she included marriage in her novel. ...read more.

Middle

- Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr Collins, and I will never see you again if you do.' Mrs Bennet was distraught that her daughter turned down the proposal of Mr Collins. If Elizabeth did not marry him, then they would lose their house when Mr Bennet dies. I feel that Mr Bennet supported Lizzy in her decision because she is secretly his favourite daughter. We are told this in the first chapter. 'But Lizzy has more of a quickness than her sisters.' Mrs Bennet's conversation (when talking about marriage) uses exclamation marks proving that really, she does get very excited and flustered over the idea of weddings and marrying off her daughters. Mr Bennet does not say much about the matter though. He simply explains that he will visit Mr Bingley when he wishes. He has a very laid back attitude and personality and seems very relaxed. Mr and Mrs Bennet's relationship is slightly strange. Although they are married, they do not seem to get on very well. They have completely different personalities and I feel that Mrs Bennet does not understand her husband. She seems to care about the physical features like how rich a person is and whether or not he would have a large enough fortune to cater for her daughter, while Mr Bennet seems to wish his daughters to find a man who they love and can spend their lives together happily. ...read more.

Conclusion

This explains to us that the main aim of a man with a large fortune is to marry. This is what the book is about, so I feel that it perfectly describes the main themes of the novel. The first chapter also introduces us to some of the main characters in the book, although we do not speak to them, we hear of the Bennet sisters, who are the main focus in the book. Finally, I feel that the first chapter of the novel, gives us an insight of the life of a woman living in the times of Jane Austen. We understand that all men are in want of a wife, that as soon as a man enters the neighbourhood, the mothers and young girls are all looking to visit him so that they can see if he would be a suitable husband. They can see how much money he has, which seems to be a very important factor. We also find out that if you wish to be taken seriously you must have a man to visit the 'future husband' so that the women of the family can simply visit him. Everything is very formal in these days, and I feel that the first chapter helps the reader to understand the time of when the novel is set. Overall I feel that the opening chapter of 'Pride and Prejudice' by Jane Austen, effectively introduces the reader to the central characters and concerns of the novel. ...read more.

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