Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, set in Nineteenth century England, is a novel about marriage. Austen’s feminine writing and weaved storyline creates a novel which can be interesting to read and which women especially enjoy. The novel has a strong theme of marriage as a mother (Mrs. Bennet) desperately trying to marry her daughters off. She didn’t care about the quality of the men her daughters were marrying, but was satisfied just as long as they found a man.
When her sixteen-year-old daughter Lydia marries Wickham, she is thrilled and proceeds to make plans for visiting her neighbors with her, despite the fact that they had lived togetherfor over a year without being married, and that Wickham was forced into marrying her. Mrs. Bennet’s strong desire to marry off her children and her unsatisfactory attempts at matchmaking show that in her society, marriage is held in high regard. It is a person’s personal worth and the transfer of family fortunes that occurs during a marriage in this time that is probably the most important factor, not how the couple gets along or likes each other.
Austen plays on this social behavior and seems to be making a statement. Therefore, I believe that Pride and Prejudice is a social satire. The language of Pride and Prejudice is astonishingly simple and the verbiage frugal, especially for the period in which it is written. There is no drastic action or heroic characters; however, Austen convincingly 1 develops character with it, and her characters, each with their own dialogue and languistical nuances, stand apart very well.
Another interesting note about her characters is that at the end of the novel, all of her characters are punished or rewarded according to their actions throughout the course of the book. This shows her moralistic side. This quote, a typical Mr. Bennet speech, occurs when the issue of Kitty going to Brighton is brought up: “This is a parade which does one good; it gives such an elegance to misfortune! Another day I will do the same; I will sit in my library, in my night-cap and powdering gown, and give as much trouble as I can – or, perhaps, I may defer it til Kitty runs away.
Contrasting this to someone like Mrs. Gardiner, as she is quoted here speaking to Elizabeth about Darcy’s estate, one can see a completely different tone and manner of speaking: “My love, should you not like to see a place of which you have heard so much? A place, too, with which so many of your acquaintance are connected. Wickham passed all his youth there, you know. ” It must also be noted that her male characters are not nearly as developed and refined as her female ones. Men never gathered alone to discuss, or have parties – this is reserved for the women.
Most of the men aren’t even taken seriously. But I must give credit to Austen, for as Mark Twain once said, “Write what you know about,” and Jane Austen probably wouldn’t have done so well with her men as she did with her women. This is the basic argument that she is a feminine author, appealing mostly to women. Most importantly, she uses language to make her society’s view a marriage look like a joke as evidenced in the language of Mrs. Bennet and of the Miss Bennets. Furthermore, marriage and matchmaking is downplayed in the novel’s playing with first impressions and their effects.
Had Darcy acted a bit more polite at the first dance and Elizabeth less critical of him, then the 2 two of them would probably been married by Chapter VI and what is now a 250+ page novel would have been a 50 page short story. But, contrary to what the romance novels of the past two hundred years seem to tell us, life is not always like that, and oftentimes our personal prejudices and imperfect selves get in the way of our best will, leaving only our libidious egos to judge.
Her treatment of characters helps us to see the shallowness of the peoples of her time. Mrs. Bennet, the matchmaker, makes us laugh at the very notion of marriage between some of the people in the novel. Kitty and Lydia, however, are caught up in their own frivolous worlds and in the end get what they are eventually seeking, anyway. Lady Catherine, an extremely proud woman, simply looks foolish. Sir William Lucas is the epitome of all that is arrogant and pompous.
These characters help to play a part in showing the one-sidedness of the people of this time and in portraying the lack of depth in their marriages, which are usually only for money or prestige. As a conclusion, romance is what a writer like Austen is really good at, and the people of her time would buy it (if it sold well in her time, then she’d be financially worry-free). That is why it is written in the form that it is. Pride and Prejudice is essentially a satire of social behavior, especially of marriage.
What Austen appears to be asking is ‘Can love really be found in society? ‘ According to her book, it is hardly likely. Even though Darcy and Elizabeth appear happy at the end, it is hard to imagine the Darcy from the first part of the book married to Elizabeth. This long, interwoven theme of marriage can appeal today as social classes and position are factors in people’s marriages – Austen seems to be saying that none of this is important, and one should marry someone that he/she really likes as a person, not as a means of prestige.