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In what ways and to what ends does the romance genre draw on the conventions and expectations of the fairy tale? Discuss with reference to Pride and Prejudice.

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Introduction

In what ways and to what ends does the romance genre draw on the conventions and expectations of the fairy tale? Discuss with reference to Pride and Prejudice. Up until more recent times women have occupied a suppressed place in the hierarchical structure of society. As a reaction to the values of and their position in a capitalist society which is intrinsically individualistic, Romantic writing has grown to become mainly dominated by female writers. These writers have purged to find an escape from their position in a world obsessed by material wealth and social status. The protagonist in Romantic writing and fairy tales is usually involved in a quest. The goal he or she aims for is usually opposed by other forces. The overcoming of his own pride is an obstacle for Mr. Darcy to overcome in Pride and prejudice. The opposing forces can often be enemies of the romantic ideals. One example of this in Pride and prejudice is the unsuccessful endeavours of Miss. Bingley to attract Mr. Darcy because it opposes the romantic ideal of a kind of love which is impervious to wealth and status. The opening words of the novel express the attitude that 'It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.'1 It is presumed that, in the name of his, and his families, own material interest he must find a wife. ...read more.

Middle

Edward Lewis could be compared to 'Prince Charming' in Cinderella. These characters have a set role in the plot and have a definite quality that enables them to be easily characterised, for example, if the character is evil, he or she is purely evil and is a 'villain'. This kind of set role enables a definite opposition of forces, such as good against evil. The diversion from our perception of reality provided by the romantic genre and fairy tales can bring about excess of pleasure in the participator because of its ability to draw on the reader's imagination and bring them closer to a more perfect reality. The sense of illusion created by Romance offers solutions to problems which cannot be solved in reality, the idea of having something that shows us how things could be rather than how things are can be a cathartic and helpful experience. It may be good to have a goal to aim for even if it is impossible to reach because it can bring us closer to those ideals. Characters in Romantic writing and Fairy tales usually, through the course of the narrative, usually undergo some sort of transformation. The villains and hindrances are the catalysts for these transformations. In chapter three in pride and prejudice Mr. Darcy is heard by Elizabeth to say about her: "She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humour ...read more.

Conclusion

She also mentions 'His sense of her inferiority - of its being a degradation - of the family obstacles which judgement had always opposed to inclination'10 The "family obstacles" he talks of are due to her social inferiority. It is the fact that her family does not have the grand reputation to match his and if they were to be wedded it would reflect badly on his family. Later, in chapter fifty-six, Lady Catherine de Bourgh calls Elizabeth "a woman of inferior birth, of no importance in the world, and wholly unallied to the family."11 She goes on to say that her "alliance will be a disgrace"12 and that Mr. Darcy should be wedded to her own progeny because "Their fortune on both sides is splendid."13 The conversation between Elizabeth and the irascible Lady Catherine is one of the greatest oppositions of the ideal of Romantic love in Pride and Prejudice. It is the fact that Lady Catherine is trying to prevent a marriage of unconventional love which is so opposed to mercenary interest. She is trying to put a stop to their special emotional bond which defies the voice of authority, reason and ultimately the values of a capitalist society. Their defiance has no political or necessarily intelligent reason but is due to something conceived as 'true love'. This concept is the driving force of the romantic 'quest' in the novel and is what potentially offers us the 'escape' or catharsis that both Romantic writing and the fairy tale can be an effective medium for. ...read more.

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