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Satire in Pride and Prejudice

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Introduction

One of the main purposes Jane Austen had of introducing satire in the novel, Pride and Prejudice, was to present to the reader the ignorance and arrogant attitudes of certain characters, and the effect it had on marriage and society. Austen used her characters to portray both the negative and positive elements of society during that time period. The characters best described by these qualities are Mrs. Bennet (the mother of the Bennet household), Lydia Bennet (one of her daughters), and Mr. William Collins. Mrs. Bennet is a foolish, noisy woman whose only true goal in life is to see her daughters married off. At numerous points in the novel, it becomes noticeable that there is not much activity occurring within Mrs. Bennet, meaning that she is somewhat lost in space. From the novel, we learn that this is a characteristic passed on to one of her daughters, Lydia. It becomes quite obvious that her mother favors Lydia, while Elizabeth seems to end up with the negativity of Mrs. Bennet. This can be clearly seen when Mr. Bingley, a wealthy young gentleman new to the village of Longbourn, is introduced. Mr. and Mrs. Bennet are discussing Bingley's arrival and it is mentioned that this could be an opportunity for one of the girls to obtain a wealthy spouse. ...read more.

Middle

There are two main reasons why the Bennet's marriage lasted. First, divorce was not allowed in the society they were living in. Second, Mr. Bennet, instead of speaking with his wife about the things that got on his nerves, he figured out a way to tune her out. He also used mockery and sarcasm, which, for the most part, she didn't catch on to. This can be seen early in the novel, when Kitty was coughing, and Mrs. Bennet snapped at her - "Don't keep coughing so, Kitty, for heavens sake! Have a little compassion on my nerves. You tear them to pieces!" (pg. 3). Now, instead of speaking to his wife in a civilized manner, he says, "Kitty has no discretion in her coughs, she times them ill." (pg. 4). This mix between Mrs. Bennet's uncertain temper and Mr. Bennet's sarcastic humor just begins to portray the downhill relationship they have going. Even worse, when Mrs. Bennet became too much for him to handle, he isolated himself in his library - away from his family. Mr. Bennet's self realization at the end of the novel in which he discovers that his lack of attention toward the way they are was too late to save the family. ...read more.

Conclusion

For example, a gathering between Mr. Collins, his wife and Elizabeth, "When Mr. Collins said anything of which his wife might reasonably be ashamed, which certainly was not seldom, Elizabeth would involuntarily turn her eye on Charlotte. Once or twice she could discern a faint blush; but in general Charlotte wisely did not hear." (pg.116). Out of the 7 different marriages presented in the novel, there were only two truly successful ones, Elizabeth and Darcy, and Jane and Bingley. Both of these marriages revealed the key elements that should make up a marriage - love, honor, trust and so on. Taking Elizabeth and Darcy as an example, they were truly the only couple that started off distant and gradually worked their way up. They found their faults and corrected them. They began to understand one another. Because of all this, their mutual understanding is the foundation of their relationship and will lead to a long-lasting marriage, something that cannot be said for the rest of the couples in this novel. This marriage reveals the importance of really getting to know one another - getting to know his or her flaws ahead of time, so that it is possible to work them out, which would have done a lot for the couples in this novel. ...read more.

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