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Pride and prejudice - PLOT

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Romanticism

Pride and prejudice

I Bennett hanno cinque figlie: Jane (la ragazza piu` carina dei dintorni), Elizabeth (arguta, sensibile e vivace), Mary (studiosa ma pedante), Catherine e Julia (ancora ragazzine, che provano interesse soltanto negli ufficiali di passaggio). Il padrone di casa è un padre saggio ed equilibrato 626e47g , ironico e sagace; invece sua moglie è vanitosa e pettegola.

L'arrivo di Mr. Beagle, ricco scapolo dotato anche d'un certo fascino, movimenta l'ambiente che i Bennet frequentano. Col nuovo arrivato vivono la sorella Carolina, l'altra sorella sposata Louisa ed il marito di questa, Hurst; in loro compagnia si trova spesso Darcy, ricchissimo ed orgoglioso della sua posizione sociale.

Fra la gioia disinteressata della sorella Elizabeth e l'antipatica esultanza di sua madre, Jane conquista subito Beagle; senza accorgersene Elizabeth fa colpo sullo schizzinoso Darcy, che ostenta noia nei confronti di quella societa` di provincia; di Darcy e` invaghita Carolina Beagle, convinta, come la sorella, dell'inferiorita` dei Bennett.

La conoscenza tra i Bennett e Beagle ed i suoi amici avviene prima ad un ballo, e poi a casa dello stesso Beagle, quando, influenzata, Jane viene ospitata con Elizabeth per tutta la convalescenza.



Alla sua morte i possedimenti di Bennett passeranno nelle mani del nipote Collins, uomo di chiesa protetto da lady Catherine, che e` amica di Darcy e si dice progetti un matrimonio tra questi e sua figlia. Collins visita i Bennett per stabilire rapporti amichevoli con coloro che nutrono un naturale risentimento verso chi sara` padrone di cio` che ora e` loro, ed anche perche' e` in cerca di moglie. Le sue mire si fissano su Elizabeth, che pero` lo rifiuta, per nulla attratta dal suo esagerato formalismo e dal suo smaccato servilismo.

Durante una visita agli zii Philips, Elizabeth e le sorelle conoscono Wickham, un ufficiale amico di Denny, un loro conoscente, ed assistono ad una scena da cui si capisce che Wickham e Darcy sono in cattivi rapporti. Elizabeth e` conquistata dal fascino dell'ufficiale, che le spiega d'essere vittima del disumano Darcy: figlio del sovrintendente del padre di Darcy, Wickham sarebbe entrato nelle grazie del defunto signore, tanto da ottenere la promessa d'una discreta sussistenza per la sua carriera ecclesiastica, ma, per gelosia, Darcy non avrebbe mantenuto la promessa del padre, costringendolo ad abbracciare la carriera militare.

L'astio di Elizabeth nei confronti di Darcy aumenta ancora nonostante questi manifesti, al successivo ballo in casa Beagle, una netta preferenza per lei e nonostante l'amicizia e la piena fiducia che Beagle manifesta per Darcy.

Beagle va in citta` per affari, e la maliziosa sorella s'affretta ad assicurare Jane che non solo egli stara` via l'intero inverno, ma che si prospetta anche un'unione con la sorella di Darcy. Al malumore di Jane s'aggiunge quello di Elizabeth e dell'intera famiglia nell'apprendere che Charlotte Lucas, principale confidente di Elizabeth, e` fidanzata all'erede Collins: la madre vede in Elizabeth la causa di questo disastro che, alla morte del padre, le privera` della loro casa.

Si delineano i caratteri di Jane (innocente e fiduciosa, incapace di sospettare falsita` o malevolenza in chicchessia) e di Elizabeth (ben piu` sveglia ed osservatrice, oltre che affettuosa come la sorella).

Per un certo tempo Elizabeth va a visitare Collins e Charlotte, freschi sposi, e, oltre a conoscere l'impertinente lady Catherine e l'esile figlia di questa, rivede, in casa della zia Gardiner, la sorella Jane ed incontra di nuovo Darcy. Pur trovandosi in citta`, Jane non e` mai stata visitata dai Beagle, segno evidente che il prospettato matrimonio con la sorella di Darcy e` prossimo a realizzarsi.

Pur mantenendo la sua orgogliosa riservatezza, Darcy frequenta spesso Elizabeth, la cui antipatia nei suoi confronti e` acuita dalla rivelazione fattale da Fitzwilliam, amico dei Darcy e dei Beagle ed anch'egli assidua compagnia di Elizabeth, che Darcy e` il principale responsabile della rottura tra Beagle e Jane; con sua grande sorpresa Darcy le confessa, pero`, d'amarla, ma in un modo cosi` odioso e manifestando tanta superbia che non solo Elizabeth lo rifiuta sdegnosamente, ma gli rinfaccia anche il suo comportamento malvagio nei confronti di Jane e la sua crudelta` in quelli di Wickham.

Darcy le scrive una lettera in cui tenta di discolparsi da entrambe le accuse: ha consigliato Beagle di dimenticare Jane perche' convinto che Jane non ne fosse seriamente innamorata ed anche per lo scandaloso comportamento della loro madre e delle tre sorelle, e, in seguito alla rinuncia a seguire la carriera ecclesiastica, Wickham ha sperperato l'intera somma datagli, e ha addirittura tentato di sedurre Georgiana Darcy per impossessarsi delle sue sostanze e per vendicarsi.

Il gaio spirito di Eliza e` assai scosso dalla nuova immagine di Darcy, verso cui ha sicuramente peccato di pregiudizio, e dalla rivelazione della vera personalita` di Wickham; quando lascia i Collins per tornare a casa insieme a Jane, si confida con lei, ma evita di farle sapere come sono andate veramente le cose.

Quando torna l'estate, Lydia segue il reggimento con la moglie d'un colonnello, nonostante la veemente disapprovazione di Eliza, che sa quanto queste leggerezze di comportamento possano nuocere alla rispettabilita` della famiglia.

Eliza intraprende con gli zii Gardiner un viaggio nella zona in cui risiede Darcy, e finisce per incontrarlo. Nonostante un certo imbarazzo, Darcy si comporta molto affabilmente sia con lei sia con gli zii; fra lo stupore degli zii per l'alto rango di questi amici della nipote (e per le evidenti attenzioni mostrate per lei dal piu` eminente di questi), vengono a visitarla anche Georgiana Darcy e Cahrles Beagle, ma da casa giunge la notizia che Lydia e` fuggita con Wickham, invano inseguito da Bennett.

I due vengono ritrovati dallo zio Gardiner, che, pur di farli sposare, procura anche di pagare gli ingenti debiti di Wickham. Eliza scopre pero` che protagonista di tutto e` Darcy: ha scovato i due, convinto Wickham a sposare Lydia promettendogli di pagare i debiti ed ha fatto in modo che non si sapesse del suo intervento. Quando i due sposini vanno a salutare i Bennett si dimostrano tutt'altro che pentiti: Wickham ha ottenuto cio` che voleva, e Lydia e` troppo stupida per capire il disonore che getta sulle sorelle e le scarse prospettive d'un simile matrimonio, ma anche piena di se' per essere la prima ragazza sposata di casa Bennett.

Beagle e Darcy tornano ad unirsi alla societa` dei Bennett: Jane e Beagle rinnovano la vecchia simpatia; Darcy si ripresenta orgoglioso, taciturno ed indisponente; la signora Bennett fa di tutto per mettere in imbarazzo la figlia e dimostra tutta la sua simpatia per Beagle e la sua antipatia per Darcy; mentre la candida Jane cerca di nascondere a se' stessa ed alla sorella il rinascente amore per Beagle, Elizabeth confessa d'essere ormai pentita del suo passato comportamento, ed al rimpianto per aver perduto l'occasione di sposare un uomo cosi` ricco e meritevole s'accompagna, adesso che le cose sono chiarite, la speranza che Darcy voglia rinnovare la richiesta della sua mano; Eliza sente tutta la stima per chi tanto ha fatto per la sua famiglia, ed e` umiliata dal comportamento dei suoi, che peraltro non ne sanno nulla.

Beagle, che si fida ciecamente dei consigli di Darcy, una volta appreso da questo che il suo affetto per Jane e` ricambiato, non esita a chiederne la mano; sparsasi la notizia che Darcy sta per chiedere Eliza, lady Catherine in persona va a trovare Eliza per manifestarle la sua disapprovazione, ma, schietta e per nulla intimidita dalla superbia di chi non e` abituato ad essere contraddetto, Eliza risponde per le rime agli insulti della vecchia zia di Darcy, che sin dall'infanzia aveva sognato di fare quel matrimonio con sua figlia; Darcy rinnova infine la sua richiesta ad Eliza, dimostrandosi percio` incurante della scarsa considerazione e delle cattive maniere dei Bennett, della disapprovazione di lady Catherine e dello scandalo che una simile unione puo` sollevare. Vivamente toccata dalla nuova luce in cui Darcy le appare, da tutto cio` che egli ha fatto per la sua famiglia e da tanta fedelta`, Eliza lo accetta. Il romanzo termina con i due matrimoni ed una felice panoramica su tutti i personaggi.

Il tema fondamentale del romanzo e` il matrimonio visto dal punto di vista femminile: la storia si snoda principalmente attraverso i discorsi e le lettere, mentre sovente il commento della scrittrice e` inteso ad esplorare piu` la conseguenza degli avvenimenti sull'animo dei protagonisti (in particolare di Eliza). Gli ambienti in cui si svolge la storia sono pochi: casa Bennett, casa Beagle e qualche altra in minor misura, ma essenzialmente la prima; le occasioni sono rappresentate dai balli e dalle visite.

I personaggi sono divisi in gruppi ben definiti, non sono molti e sono tutti ben caratterizzati: la Austen non si sofferma sui vestiti o sulla fisionomia, in un personaggio introduce subito dichiaratamente i tratti del carattere. I gruppi principali sono quello dei poveri (comprendente le ragazze ed i loro parenti) e quello dei ricchi (comprendente i giovani che s'innamorano delle ragazze ed i loro parenti): questi due gruppi s'incontrano negli ambienti e nelle occasioni suddette.

I discorsi hanno tre funzioni: contribuiscono ad analizzare il carattere di chi parla (il candore di Jane, lo humour di papa` Bennett, l'invadenza e l'improprieta` di mamma Bennett), narrano cio` che sta succedendo (le due dichiarazioni d'amore finali) o sono narrazioni indirette di cio` che e` successo (soprattutto per cio` che riguarda i piccoli dettagli che non vale la pena di seguire direttamente).

Eliza prende man mano il sopravvento sugli altri personaggi, sino a diventare la protagonista del romanzo, ma non perche' attorno alle sue vicende ruotano quelle degli altri; Eliza capisce gli altri, quel che succede attorno a lei; la sua maturazione e` impercettibile ma fondamentale: il suo pregiudizio le aliena l'orgoglio di Darcy, ma alla fine i fatti la fanno ricredere.

I personaggi sono tutti fissasti nel loro ruolo sociale, e hanno una ristretta liberta` di movimento; l'abilita` della Austen sta nel riuscire a variare il futuro che e` loro destinato senza violare le regole del loro vivere sociale; alla fissita` del ruolo sociale la Austen aggiunge un'altra limitazione: un carattere ben definito, assai preciso anche se non profondo, tanto da poter prevedere le reazioni agli avvenimenti (Jane perdonera`, mamma Bennett s'infuriera` o trionfera`, lady Catherine sara` sprezzante), ma per mettere in moto la storia occorre un'eccezione, o, meglio, basta introdurre un carattere che non dia importanza alla situazione sociale, Beagle. Da lui prende le mosse tutto il romanzo: senza il suo inconsueto amore per una ragazza di rango inferiore non vi sarebbe Darcy, ne' Wickham, ne' l'orgoglio di Darcy od il pregiudizio di Eliza.

La forma e` molto teatrale: le tre unita` sono abbastanza rispettate, e cio` che non viene detto mediante il dialogo e` ben poco; d'altronde gli avvenimenti vengono presentati come delle scenette.

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE

( 1813 )

PLOT

The novel's plot is based on the Bennet family who belong to the country gentry. It is set at Longbourn, a small country village in Hertfordshire, where Mr and Mrs Bennet live with their five daughters, Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Lydia and Kitty. One day a rich bachelor, Charles Bingley, and his two sisters rent a large estate in the neighbourhood, called Nether-field Park. After a series of balls and parties that bring the members of this little society together, Mr Bingley falls in love with Jane, and his best friend, the aristocratic Fitzwilliam DARCY, begins to feel attracted by ELIZABETH. But she dislikes him because of his snobbish behaviour and because she considers him responsible for the separation of Bingley and Jane. When Mr Darcy declares his love, he cannot help showing contempt for her inferior social position; so Elizabeth rejects him and accuses him of separating his sister and Bingley, and of ill-treating George Wickham, a young officer who was the son of Darcy's former steward. Darcy writes her a letter where he reveals that Wickham is an unscrupolous adventurer. Meanwhile Wickham elopes with Lydia; Darcy traces them and provides for their marriage. Elizabeth realizes that she was mistaken about Darcy and accepts his renewed proposal, in spite of the opposition of Lady Catherine De Bourgh, Darcy's arrogant aunt. Bingley comes back and becomes engaged to Jane, so the  novel ends with the happy marriages of the two couples.

CHARACTERIZATION

Pride and Prejudice comes alives for the reader in the vividness of character and the brightness of dialogue. The narration of events is balanced by passages of reflection and by letters. The epistolary technique, derived from Richardson, is used more frequently in the later chapters when the characters have been fully outlined and the scope of the novel has expanded beyond the small world of Longbourn. But the charm of the novel lies in CHARACTERIZATION. All the characters have their place in the plot and contribute to the main story. J.Austen makes her characters reveal a lot about themselves through what they say, through dialogues which are very significant in the novel.

1. Dialogue is used to reveal the character of its speakers

2. It can add drama to the story (note the dialogues between Darcy and Elizabeth especially;

    for ex. Darcy's proposal of marriage)

3. It often adds humour (for ex. in the speeches of Mr Collins)

4. Jane Austen's dialogue is usually 'realistic'; it is what the people in her world would have   spoken, only it has been 'polished' ( made more pure ) by the author.

THE CHARACTERS

ELIZABETH BENNET - She is the heroine. She is her father's favourite daughter, having inherited his WIT and INTELLIGENCE. She has a good sense of humour and  a lively mind

One of the qualities that  wins Darcy to her; she is capable of  complex impressions and ideas.

She has a strong spirit of independence: she refuses to take on the roles which her family or peo-

ple in socially superior positions attempt to impose on her. She is impulsive but has an affectio-

nate nature ( she walks three miles through dirty  field to come to her sister ).

Not only Mr Bennet and Darcy, but also Sir William Lucas, Colonel Fitzwilliam and Wickham

admire her. She has great qualities but also great weaknesses: she makes bad MISTAKES OF

JUDGEMENT (against Darcy and Wickham). She allows her own PRIDE to prejudice herself against Darcy.

Elizabeth has originality, especiallly in her liveliness, which makes her an interesting character.

In doing the unexpected she is unconventional but at the same time she remains SENSIBLE.

She has high ideals on marriage.

FITZWILLIAM DARCY - He is temperamentally unsociable, he is ALOOF and SUPERIOR

in his behaviour toward new acquuaintances. His manners are proud and his speech measured

and formal. He is a cultured man. The vulgarity of the Bennet family soon offends him but Eliza-

beth attracts him against his will.

Behind his RESERVE and FASTIDIOUSNESS there are GENUINE QUALITIES:

·         he is generous to his servants, his tenants

·         he is affectionate to his sister

·         he knows the meaning of discretion

He is a good man who has been made stiff and proud by his upbringing.



Darcy,  as a lover,  is deeply in love, but SHY and EMBARASSED.  He  finds difficult to speak

about his deepest feelings and his manners make him unpopular.

Both Elizabeth and Darcy set out with an imperfect understanding of themselves and each other.

She accuses him of PRIDE and he accuses her of  PREJUDICE. They are HUMBLED one by

the  other:

·         she learns from Darcy's letter that she has based her opinion of him on a misfounded prejudice

( all that Wickham told her had been wrong ) so she realises her error and she is humbled by Darcy.  Also when she learns of what Darcy has done for Lydia she is humbled, she recognises his generosity .

·         he realises that his pride had made him certain of her accepting his marriage proposal.

The novel involves both characters in a journey towards SELF-AWARENESS and SELF - KNOWLEDGE. They  change throughout the novel, they evolve and become aware of their real feelings.

JANE BENNET - Jane is the eldest and most beautiful of the Bennet sisters. She never thinks ill of

anybody, and has, in addition to her warm sympathetic feelings, an outward composure and easy

manner.She suffers patiently and she is a nice person but her judgement is faulty: she takes a long time to see Miss Bingley's hypocrisy, she is no more able to see what Wickham is really like, she

refuses to believe that he could live with Lydia without marrying her, and still imagine their marriage may be a happy one.

Jane remains the same throughout the novel.

CHARLES BINGLEY - He is no SNOB, like his sisters, but gentleman-like and prepared to fit in

with most people. In the eyes of his female neighbours "he was quite young,wonderfully handsome, extremely agreeable". Unlike Darcy, he comes from the new gentry, the new rich - those who have made money in trade and risen socially.

He is, however, a little too easily influenced by the others; he allows others to separate Jane and himself. But once Darcy removes his objection, Bingley proposes to Jane without the slow caution of his friend.

MR BENNET - He is an intelligent man, a gentleman by birth; but having made an unwise marriage with a woman of low intelligence, he retreats into his library. ( a gentleman through his ownership of the Longbourn estate, he has married beneath himself socially and is unable to provide his daughters with a dowry; added to this hia estate is entailed to the MALE LINE and he has no son to inherit it ). He takes pleasure in ridiculing his wife and his daughters.With no one to understand him, exept Elizabeth, he  lives apart He fails to discipline his younger daughters, allowing their mother to encourage their ignorance and vanity.

Mr Bennet often makes penetrating remarks, and is the source of much of Jane Austen's IRONY.

He is a character who does not change by the end of the novel. However, he gains happiness through Elizabeth's marriage, as after it he often visits Pemberley: He and his daughter are much alike in their wit, humour and intelligence.

MRS BENNET - The chief COMIC character:we enjoy and laugh at her ridicolous character.

She was a woman "of mean understanding, little information and uncertain temper". The business

Of her life was to get her daughters married. Her schemes to marry off her daughters are carried out with exaggeration and no subtlety. When things go wron, she becomes IRRITABLE and complains of her NERVES. She often change of face, particularly with Darcy; from being "disagreeable" and "hateful", he is suddenly "charming" when he becomes engaged to Elizabeth.

She is PETTY and MATERIALISTIC and she is a rich object of J; Austen's satire and comedy.

MR COLLINS - His personality is revealed as much in his letters as in his actual behaviour. The letter announcing his arrival to Longbourn is long, formal and pompous, and when he arrives he

Carries his formalities and AFFECTED HUMILITY to the point of RIDICULOUSNESS. His

proposal of marriage is really HUMOROUS, he is completely unaware of anyone's feelings but his own. He is 'absurd', he has adopted a "mixture of pride and obsequiousness, of self-importance and humility". He praises Lady Catherine excessively because she is his patroness and his social supe-

rior. He is a very WORDLY CLERGYMAN, he is mainly concerned with carrying out the prescribed rituals of the Church but he has no deeper Christian feeling.

GEORGE WICKHAM - His father was the steward of Darcy's father, he is not therefore of 'high birth', and his immoral habits make him  squander the chances open to him: of rising in the Church or the Law. His good point is his CHARM: "he had all the best part of beauty, a fine countenance, a

good figure". ". his manners recommended him to everybody. Whatever he said, was said well; and whatever he did, done gracefully". In spite of his appearance he deceives everyone.

He is the exact opposite of Darcy; Elizabeth realises the truth  about him when she says: " one has

got all the good qualities, and the other all the appearance of it".

Wickham's seduction of Lydia follows his attempted seduction of Georgiana Darcy. Like Mr Col-

Lins, he is a selfish character who only cares about outward appearances and has no good feelings. But, unlike Collins, he breaks the social code.

LYDIA BENNET - She is the youngest daughter and  is most like her mother. Her favourite occu-

pation is walking to Meryton to flirt with the officers. Allowed by her mother to do as she pleases, and worst of all, encouraged in her unrestrained behaviour with men, she ends up living with a man

with no thought of marrying him. She doesn't understand even the social marality accepted amongst her class.

Elizabeth's judgement of her is probably Jane Austen's: she is "ignorant, idle and vain".

CHARLOTTE LUCAS - She is sensible and intelligent, and  Elizabeth's best friend.  But she is plain in appearance and having no fortune she is in a difficult position. In Jane Austen's time, a woman who remained unmarried would almost inevitably be worse off than if she married. It

explains why so many of the female characters are worried with the  material advantages of marriage.

So she accepts Collins because she fears she will not be married otherwise. Her view of marriage

Is therefore completely UNROMANTIC; she thinks happiness in marriage is a matter of chance.

Elizabeth is probably right that she cannot be happy with Collins, but Charlotte does not demand the same kind of happiness as Elizabeth.

CAROLINE BINGLEY and MRS HURST - The Bingley sisters  are RICH and PROUD, social snobs.

Mrs Hurst does not play any significant part in the novel.

Miss Bingley is very jealous of Darcy's attention for Elizabeth and she is another MATERIALISTIC character who criticises Elizabeth for her low manners and points out the inferior social position of the Bennets. She tries flattery to win Darcy, but is no match for Eliza-

beth's intelligence. She is HYPOCRITICAL in pretending to be Jane's friend.

LADY CATHERINE DE BOURGH - She is an EGOIST,  wholly conscious of her self-importance

and rank; she behaves in an insensitive way, ordering everyone's lives.

This aristocratic woman displays her worst behaviour when she tries to make ELIZABETH  pro-

Mise not to become engage to her nephew, Darcy. She wishes to unite Rosings and Pemberley by marrying her daughter to Darcy. She does not care about marriage for love.

THE LUCASES -  Sir William Lucas has risen by trade. He is materialistic as most of the others, but being a weak, simple character, he is not unlikeable.

Lady Lucas is no more intelligent than Mrs Bennet.

KITTY and MARY BENNET - They are badly brought up. Kitty is 'weak-spirited, irritable and under Lydia's guidance. Mary studies hard because she is the only plain daughter but she has not

Genius or taste, she plays the piano with vanity and affectation.

THE GARDINERS - Mr Gardiner is Mrs Bennet's brother; he is a sensible, gentlemanlike man,

greatly superior to his sister as well by nature as education.

Mrs Gardiner is intelligent and elegant. They are the most sensible relatives of Bennet's girls.

Mr Gardiner is in trade, has money and pratical sense.

COLONEL FITZWILLIAM - the youngest son of a Lord, he is well-bred and likeable. But he must

Marry for money to keep up his social position, otherwise he would have been even more attracted to Elizabeth.

GEORGIANA DARCY - Miss Darcy is shy and only sixteen. She escaped Wickham's evil designs on her by confessing to her brother. In the end, we are told, Elizabeth and she grow to be great friends.

STRUCTURE AND STYLE

THE PLOT

Jane Austen has great skill in constructing her plots at it's simplest level.  It is the place of a novel in Pride and Prejudice.  First of all we see that she is telling the LOVE STORY of two young people.  This story falls into an easily observed symmetry:




1.   The FIRST PART deals with the meeting of DARCY and ELIZABETH and shows how they form impressions of each other and how Darcy becomes so much in love.  Then he asks Elizabeth to marry him.  The CLIMAX of DARCY'S PROPOSAL and ELIZABETH'S REJECTION of it.

2.   The SECOND PART shows how both of the lovers come to a BETTER UNDERSTANDING of each other.  They are about to become united when an obstacle appears (Lydia's elopment, the shame of the Bennet family) which threatens to ruin their affections.  However this is overcome and they are united at last.

There are also SUB-PLOTS which influence the main plot.  For example:

1.   Bingley's courtship of JANE.  This runs parallel with Darcy's courtship of Elizabeth.  (They interreact when Darcy separates Bing and Jane.  This reinforces Elizabeth's prejudice against him).

2.   Charlotte Lucas's marriage with Collins.  This is necessary because it causes Elizabeth to go to KENT where she again meets Darcy.  One event is well connected and linked to the other.

3.   Darcy's relations with Wickham.  (At Meryton Wickham prejudices Elizabeth against Darcy).

The other characters contribute to the MAIN STORY.  Every character cannot be considered a part or unnatural, but it links well with the main event.  None of the characters can be isolated.

HUMOUR, IRONY and SATIRE

Elizabeth is probably the mouthpiece of J. Austen ( vol.Ichap.2 ); like Elizabeth, Austen was fascinated by human character. Her intelligent SENSE OF HUMOUR, especially enabled her

to see the follies and nonsense of the people she portrayed. Her treatement of Mrs Bennet, Mr Collins, Lydia are fine examples: she laughs at the follies and NONSENSE of these characters

without being cruel or unfair.

However, her use of IRONY and SATIRE is more serious (Vol.III chap:10).

Satire in J. Austen's novels usually has a social meaning ( when she satirizes the snobbishness

of attitudes like Miss Bingley's towards Elizabet; she forgets that her brother's fortune has been acquired by trade ). J. Austen uses  satire to show up the VANITY and CONCEIT of her charac-

ters, it expresses their SOCIAL SNOBBERY and WEALTH and RANK are the objects of her satire.

We can see that the author satirises people's HYPOCRISY, VANITY and STUPIDITY. She shows up the difference beetween what they think they are and what they are really like.

THEMES

1. LOVE AND MARRIAGE

The main theme in Austen's novels is LOVE and MARRIAGE, the choice people make for  marriage partners, especially the difficulties two people have to overcome before they marry.

e.g. Elizabeth and Darcy have to understand and overcome their own PRIDE and PREJUDICE

       before becoming suitable marrige partners.

       Elizabeth is ATTRACTIVE, INDIVIDUAL and INTELLIGENT ----  but both have to gain    

       Darcy is RICH and HANDSOME                                                   ----  SELF-KNOWLEDGE.

For Darcy is proud and will not demean himself and Elizabeth is too HASTY in her judgement

and liable to be taken in by appearances. Even though his pride is greatly offended by her social

standing, Darcy proposes marriage to Elizabeth ( but he has yet to humble himself ) but he  is su-

re that Elizabeth will accept him because he is superior. Darcy is only seen through Elizabeth's eyes and those  od society, only at the end we learn what his feelings were in the story.

Then, the events  which occur in the novel eventually help them to realise their misatakes

and to esteem each other's character.

Thus, their marriage is founded on AFFECTION and UNDERSTANDING and is not a result of an immediate blind impulse.

We can compare this main love-story against the standards of the other marriage in 'Pride and Prejudice':

-Charlotte + Mr Collins = Being 27 and plain-looking Charlotte doesn't have a high view of     marriage. She marries a man who is inferior in intelligence only for the position he can offer.

Collins only wants a wife because it is time, in the eyes of society, for him to settle and be married. He quickly changes his affections from Jane to Elizabeth and from Elizabeth to Charlotte: He has no deep feelings.

-Mr + Mrs Bennet = Mr Bemnnet captivated by youth and beauty had married a woman of weak understanding, Her behaviour put an end to all real affection for her in their marriage + no money.

Fromn every point of view their marriage is a failure.

-Jane + Bingley = Their marriage is based on good FOUNDATIONS. They are attracted at once, and have the fortune to have similar, easy dispositions, Bingley has also money.

NECESSARY QUALITIES for good marriage according to the novel:

·         UNDERSTANDING each other's character

·         GOOD DISPOSITION of the partners

·         SIMILARITY in feeling and TASTE

·         AFFECTION, ATTRACTION

·         MONEY

Bad points in unsuccessful marriages:

·         Lydia + Wickham's IRRESPONSABILITY

·         Mrs Bennet's IGNORANCE

·         unequal intelligence Charlotte and Collins

2.   GOOD BREEDING and SOCIAL RANK

The question whether  NOBILITY and GENTILITY are confined only to people of high rank figures in all of J:Austen's novels. She did not reject the HIERARCHICAL STANDARDS of SOCIAL RANK of her time but she was an intelligent OBSERVER of HUMAN SOCIETY.

She didn't wish to change society and accepted the world of Lords and Ladies, aristocracy and

Gentry, clergymen and landowners; she rarely introduces servants or working people; however:

·         she did not believe that WEALTHY PEOPLE were necessarily always the most cultured

·         while she would have defended the church, she was not BLIND to the WORLDLINESS of a clergyman like Collins.

The qualities J. Austen valued are : affection, common sense, good taste, culture.

3          MORAL STANDARDS

There are some STRICT moral standards in Jane Austen's society that everyone is expected to respect.

e.g  Lydia has to be married to Wickham because otherwise she would never be accepted again in society.

But Lady Cath and Collins interpret societies MORAL code in a PRUDISH, VINDICTIVE MANNER in the way that they condemn Lydia and wish her behaviour to hurt her sister's reputation.

JANE AUSTEN:  Accepts SOCIETY'S MORAL CODE which came originally from the teachings of CHRISTIANITY.  But she comments that Collin's remarks that Lydia should be forgiven is unchristian.  She also shared the MORAL VIEWPOINT described as 'CLASSICAL'.  She believed the PASSIONS should be controlled by REASON.  The consequences are:



·         Those characters who follow their PASSIONS or have no power of REASON are criticised (Wickham and Lydia).

·         The standards of SOCIETY are not to be broken, but some characters (Miss Bingley, Collins and Lady Cath) follow them blindly to flatter their own society standing.  The INTELLIGENT ones (Elizabeth, the Gardeners) use them as the MEASURE OF GOOD SENSE and PROPRIETY.

The MORAL VISION of Pride and Predujice--- Jane Austen believes in GOOD SENSE and COMFORTABLE LIVING--- Is she too materialistic?

SUMMARY OF THE THEMES:

·         LOVE and MARRIAGE

·         GOOD BREEDING and SOCIAL RANK

·         MORAL BELIEF and BEHAVIOUR

Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen

The story takes place in the 19th century in the English province. The quiet life of a village it upset by Mr. Byngley's and his family's arrival. He is a rich man from London. The Bennet family receive him like a good friend especially Mrs. Bennet who'd like one of her five daughters to get married with him. During a ball Jane, the oldest of the five sister, knows Mr. Byngley and everybody says that they are a beautiful couple. On the contrary Elisabeth Bennet is hurt by Mr. Darcy's conceited behaviour. One day Jane goes and sees Mr. Byngley' s family but she falls ill and she must remain there. Elisabeth, who loves her sister very much, goes to help her. When they came back home, they know some army officers, among which Mr. Wickham who seems very nice. Elisabeth talks with him and is told that he was Mr. Darcy's childhood friend. Wickham tells her also that Mr. Darcy was a very proud boy and that when his father died he did not respect his intention to provide for his protégée. Meanwhile Elisabeth, goes to Rosings to visit Charlotte. There she knows Lady Catherine De Bowrgh, a very proud lady and Mr. Darcy's aunt. In fact Darcy arrived at Rosing with his cousin Mr. Fitawiliam, who tells Elisabeth that Darcy was the instrument of the separation between Jane and Bingley. After a few days Darcy proposes to Elisabeth, telling her at the same time how upset he is because she is only a member of the middle-class and so much of a lower social position Elisabeth is offended, furious and she refuses him harshly, accusing him of awing destroyed Jane and Mr. Wickham' s happiness. On the day after Darcy gives her letter in which he explains his position and asks for pardon. Elisabeth must go home but she is too upset to tell Jane her story. After another few weeks Elisabeth goes with her uncle's family to Northern England and visits Darcy's house, thinking that he is not at home. But he is. He show himself very nice to her uncle and aunt. Elisabeth is very surprised. They talk about their previsions meeting and both Elisabeth and Darcy admit that they were wrong and too proud. So they mate friends again. Meanwhile Mr. Coardiner receives a letter in which Mr. Bennet explains that Lydia has escaped with Wickham. Elisabeth is very worried because she knows from Darcy that Wickham is not an honest man, so she comes back home with her uncle while Darcy goes to London in secret, finds the fugitives and convinces Wickham to marry Lydia. Mr. Gardiner and Mr. Bennet go to London, too and after some weeks they find Lydia and Wickham when everything is already settled. The couple is welcome by Mrs. Bennet, bur Jane and Elisabeth, who know the truth, are not so kind with them. Lydia tells, Elisabeth that she saw Darcy in London, so Elisabeth writes to Mrs. Gardiner to ask her for some explanation. She gets the answer that Darcy settled everything on his own account only for some sake. She meets him at long bourn. In fact he came back with Bingley because he wants his friend to marry Jane. Elisabeth thanks him. They talk a long time and understand that they are in love Jane and Bingley are in love, too, so all can marry.         

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE

PRIDE → Pride because both Elisabeth and Darcy are proud of their own position.

PREJUDICE → Prejudice because Darcy considers Elisabeth and especially her relatives as inferior. Also Elisabeth is prejudiced towards Darcy, because she thinks ill of him on false bases (Mr Wickam spoke to her of Darcy's supposed bad behaviour).

MR AND MRS BENNET

I think Mr and Mrs Bennet don't provide an example of a well matched couple: Mrs Bennet is a woman of mean understanding, little information and uncertain temper, instead, Mr Bennet is reserve and he has sarcastic humour. Mrs Bennet is an example of flat character, she doesn't develop throughout the story. Maybe they got married for money, not for love. Mr Bennet often mocks his wife and she doesn't understand his joke. Their marriage is based on routine, love for their daughters, reciprocal knowledge and conversation.

Mrs Bennet wants that Mr Bennet visit Mr Bingley as soon as he comes, but Mr Bennet says that he see no occasion for that. Mrs Bennet wants to get married to one her daughters and she is worry because also Sir William and Lady Lucas are determined to go to visit Mr Bingley, merely on that account. Mr and Mrs Bennet have five daughters: Jane, Elisabeth, Mary, Lydia and Kitty. Elisabeth is favourite one of Mr Bennet, because she has something more of quickness than her silly and ignorant sisters.

ELIZABETH BENNET

Elisabeth Bennet is one of the daughters and she is favourite one of his father, because she has something more of quickness than her silly and ignorant sisters. Elisabeth receives from Darcy the proposal to become his wife. She doesn't accept it, because she is proud and doesn't admit that Darcy considers her inferior in front of him. Elisabeth was not very rich so it was very courageous of her to refuse Mr Darcy. It was a risky behaviour to refuse such a rich man, because it was unlikely that another man would like to marry her without her. She proves to be a very independent girl. Elisabeth Bennet is an example of round character, whose personality is modified by experience. Then she realises she has been prejudiced and partial towards Mr Darcy, so she is not the same girl of first chapters of the novel, she is a new woman. Now she is capable of self-analysis and even self-accusation. She concludes saying: "Till this moment, I never knew myself!".

THE NARRATOR

The narrator is omniscient: he know everything about the characters, reports of actions and he uses inverted commas, reporting sentence and free direct speech. When the narrator uses the free direct speech, there is a close relationship between narrator and characters.

THE NOVEL OF MANNERS

Pride and Prejudice is a novel of manners, it explores the class distinctions and their effect on character and behaviour, the role of money and property in the way people treat each other and the complications of love within this elaborate social world. For example the reason behind the Darcy's struggle is his sense of Elizabeth's social inferiority, that was against his pride.

THE RESTRICTED POSITION OF WOMEN IN THE EIGHTEENTH AND NINETEENTH CENTURY:

  • Code of behaviour
  • Husband hunting
  • The importance of marriage
  • Fashion
  • Balls
  • The meaning of being a man in such a society

In "Pride and Prejudice" we have a summary of the condition of the eighteenth century women: I think it was a very bad situation, because they were considered less important than men. This novel is instructive, because it shows an old culture and it permits us to appreciate women position in our society.

Middle or upper-class women were not expected to work: the ladies spent their time in gossiping, reading poetry, writing letters, singing or playing the piano. These were the most fashionable occupations, and another "hobby" that involved the whole aristocracy were the balls, a great occasion to find a partner.

For having a respectable place in society, a woman had to marry and have her own household to manage: it is sad to say, but for many women a good and "convenient" marriage was the only honourable way of life, as we see in Charlotte's marriage to Mr Collins. In this society, people usually married someone from their own class, and this shows us the rigidity of the social classes: to marry into a different class could create problems, such as those between Mr and Mrs Bennet.

One of the most important themes of the novel is love and marriage: we can see the importance of the choice that people make for partners, especially the difficulties people have to overcome before they marry.

According to the novel there are some necessary qualities for good marriages, like:

·         Understanding each other's character

·         Good disposition of the partners

·         Similarity in tastes

·         Affection and attraction

·         Money

In the England of Jane Austen's time the social classes were rigidly defined and divide in five parts. At the top there was the aristocracy, represented for example by lady De Bourgh and Fitzwilliam Darcy: they wanted to maintain their privileges and consider inferior the other people. Then we have the lesser gentry, who tried to compete with the aristocrats; there was also an emerging class of professional people, the farmers (like Mr Martin) and the domestic servants, which are not considered in Austen's novel.

We can notice that Jane Austen doesn't reject the hierarchical standards of social rank of her time and she is an intelligent observer of human society: she doesn't wish to change society and accepts the world of Lords and Ladies, aristocracy and Gentry, clergymen and landowners; she rarely introduces servants or working people; however she doesn't believe that wealthy people is necessarily the most cultured.

The qualities valued by the author are affection, common sense, good taste, culture.

There are some strict moral standards in the novel's society that everyone is expected to respect; for example Lydia has to be married to Wickham because otherwise she would never be accepted again in society. In this case Lady Cath and Collins interpret the moral code in a prudish and vindictive manner, as we can see in the way they condemn Lydia and wish her behaviour to hurt her sister's reputation.







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