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Review of Jane Austens "Pride and Prejudice".

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Introduction

Jane Austen?s Pride and Prejudice is often considered one of the greatest novels of all time; the story of proud William Darcy and the prejudices of Elizabeth Bennet. From Lizzie?s perspective their spirited courtship plays out on the page; in this witty comedy of manners, upbringing, morality, education, and marriage in early 19th century society. Most of you would already know this story; you?ve probably seen an adaptation or two in your time. For me, I was never interested in reading this book, I knew what it was about but I never knew what to expect. This is the novel that just will not die; 200 years later since this was published the book still sits very often in the top ten in a lot of bookstores and other literary lists. It?s been adapted multiple times as well as been retold many times. The novel has also inspired a range of other books including books by Georgette Heyer, Agatha Christie and Helen Fielding. First of all I want to look at Jane Austen?s attempt to play with the traditional quest format to offer us this rather clever novel. ...read more.

Middle

So we have this impending doom (according to Mrs Bennet) with only one hope of saving the family, marriage. When Lizzie Bennet rejects Mr Collins and eventually marries Darcy, Austen tries to tell us that character matters more than rank when it comes to romance, but then there is still a whole lot to do with rank and class that remains within the novel. At the start of the novel Lizzie and Darcy hate each other but by the end they are the perfect couple. So what is Austen trying to tell us with this change in momentum? To do this let?s look at the other relationships; First off there is some evidence that Mr and Mrs Bennet got married at a very young age, lust had brought the two together and there might have been a pregnancy. Now that the lust has cooled they find they have nothing in common. Mr Collins and Charlotte are almost the opposite; there is no passion in their marriage, it was more of a business arrangement, no kids and unhappy in their marriage. Mr Bingley and Jane are just smitten with each other; there is no real evidence that there is anything more than just an infatuation. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is interesting to see that many people read this book at face value and just gloss over any attempt at irony in this book. This book is riddled with discursive and dramatic irony but to Jane Austen?s credit she was able to do it in such a subtle way that it can be easily overlooked or missed. For a cynical person like me, it was this irony that I respect the most. I love that you can read this book as a great romance or as an ironic look at love and marriage. While the irony plays out in the book, Jane Austen?s fundamental optimism makes sure no damage was done and the outcome is a happy one. I expected Pride and Prejudice to be a romance, exploring the courtship of Lizzie and Darcy, which it is, but I was so pleased that there was so much more in this novel to explore. I read this novel and then went back and reread this novel right away; this was mainly because I needed to for Uni but I found this deliciously cynical voice come through the second time that changed my opinion of this book. I?m not sure if Jane Austen?s novels are always so ironic but if they are, she has found herself a new fan. ...read more.

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