1. Biography: Jane Austen was born on December 16th, 1775 at Steventon near Basingstoke, as the seventh child of the rector of the Parish. She lived with her family at Steventon until they moved to Bath when her father retired in 1801. After his death in 1805, she moved around with her mother; in 1809, they settled in Chawton, near Alton, Hampshire. Here she remained, except for a few visits to London, until in May 1817 she moved to Winchester to be near her doctor. She died on July 18th, 1817.
Jane Austen was extremely modest about her own genius, describing her work to her nephew, Edward, as ‘the little bit (two inches wide) of ivory, on which I work with so fine a brush, as produces little effect after much labor’. As a girl she wrote stories, including burlesques of popular romances. Her works were published only after much revision, four novels being published in her lifetime. These are Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1816). Two other novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, were published post-humously in 1818 with a biographical notice by her brother, Henry Austen, the first formal announcement of her authorship. Persuasion was written in a race against failing health in 1815-1816. She also left two earlier finished compositions, a short epistolary novel, Lady Susan, and an unfinished novel, The Watsons. At the time of her death, she was working on a new novel, Sanditon, a fragmentary draft of which survives.
2. Background: Places where the story takes place are in Longbourn (the Bennet’ home, Netherfield Park and Meryton), a place in the North; around Derbyshire Countryside (this is where Pemberley is, the manor of Mr. Darcy), Hunsford (Rosings) and in London (Gracechurch Street. Where the Gardiners live).
The setting is somewhere around the 1800’s. You can see this because of their manners and their beliefs. This setting is of importance to the book because of the belief in that time that a woman must marry. In the modern age it would have been of no importance if the woman is married or not.
- Elizabeth Bennet: She is the second daughter in the Bennet family. She is most intelligent, lovely and clever. She also has a very sharp tongue, which sometimes gets her in trouble with people who believe in society’s views (women have to behave a certain way). But her honesty and cleverness enables her to rise above the class-bound society. Nevertheless, her tendency to make hasty judgments is what leads her astray in this story. She realizes her prejudices are wrong and finally sees the nobility of Darcy’s character.
- Fitzwilliam Darcy: He is the son of a wealthy, well-established family and the master of the great estate of Pemberley. He is intelligent and very frank. He, just as Elizabeth, judges people too hastily. All in all Darcy is Elizabeth’s male counterpart. In the beginning he seems overly proud but as the story advances you see him show humility.
- Jane Bennet: She is the eldest daughter of the Bennet family. She is very cheerful, friendly and good-natured. She is always ready to think the best of others. Jane’s gentle spirit is in complete contrasts with Elizabeth’s fiery spirit.
- Charles Bingley: He is Darcy’s considerable wealthy best friend. He is just like Jane. He is friendly and good-natured. He doesn’t care about class differences but is persuaded by Darcy to consider them. Thus you see another aspect of his countenance, he aims to please his friends by listening to their advice and/or criticism.
- Mr. Bennet: He is the head of the Bennet family. He is driven to isolation because of his ridiculous wife and difficult children. He reacts by withdrawing himself from his family: his library becomes his sanctuary. He is a weak father and, at critical moments, fails his family. Ultimately, Mr. Bennet would rather withdraw from the world than cope with it.
- Mrs. Bennet: She is a foolish, noisy woman. The only thing she cares about is seeing her daughters married. But because of her low breeding and her unbecoming behavior, she often repels the very men she tries to attract for her daughters.
- George Wickham: He is a handsome, fortune-hunting military officer. Wickham’s good looks and charm attract Elizabeth, but after what Darcy tells her about his past, she discovers Wickham’s true nature.
- Lydia Bennet: She is the youngest daughter of the Bennet family. She is gossipy, immature and self-involved. Lydia flings herself into romance, in other words men.
- Mr. Collins: He is a snobby clergyman who stands to inherit Mr.Bennet’s property. Mr. Collins own social status is nothing to brag about but he makes sure that everyone knows that Lady Catherine de Bourgh is his patroness.
- Charlotte Lucas: She is Elizabeth’s dear friend. She does not view love as the most important aspect of a relationship. The most important thing for her is to be well taken care of and to have a comfortable home.
4. Who tells the story?
The story is being told from Elizabeth’s point of view mostly. The story is told in the third person.
5. Structure: The story is divided in 61 chapters. The story is in chronological order and doesn’t have any flashbacks or flash forwards. The time sometimes skips ahead to more important periods and at other times, it seems because that part of the story is explained so detailed, as if time is standing still.
- Courtships: In Pride and Prejudice everyone believes in the notion that women must marry, one of society’s norms in those times. Therefore there would be courtships between men and women before marrying, with marriage as the ultimate goal of this courtship. In this story you see so many different courtships. But the story evolves around 2 main courtships, that of Darcy-Elizabeth and Bingley-Jane.
- Journeys: Every time someone goes on a journey, it means that a big change is fore coming or that some kind of action/drama is going to take place. E.g. Elizabeth’s first journey: she visits Charlotte and Mr. Collins. On this journey Darcy first proposes to her and she learns the truth about Wickham.
On Elizabeth’s second journey she is taken to Derby and Pemberley. This is when she finally starts to fall for Darcy.
The third journey is when various people are in pursuit of Wickham and Lydia. This journey ends with Darcy saving the Bennet family honor and so again showing his devotion for Elizabeth.
7. Genre: Romance novel
1. Central Theme:
- Love: This is the main theme of the story: The courtship between Darcy and Elizabeth. In every love story ever written the two lovers go through obstacles to be together. And so in this story they must put aside their pride and realize that their prejudices were wrong, in order for them to realize the true character of the other person. They must separate themselves from society’s norms and notions and realize that their true love is right in front of them.
In this novel, the author also shows the contrast between true love and love made because of society’s rules. True love, is that of Darcy and Elizabeth when they overcome all obstacles to be together. Love made because of society’s rules, is that of Charlotte Lucas and Mr. Collins, they don’t marry for love but because it suits them. The mind, influenced by society and what society believes people need in life, decides that a marriage between those two (Mr. Collins and Miss Lucas) is suitable and therefore right.
- Reputation: In the setting in which the novel was written a person’s reputation was of great importance. For instance a woman could get a bad reputation for not adhering to the rules society set for her. See in the novel a woman was expected to behave in certain ways. Elizabeth strays away from this idea that a woman should be pleasing and always agree with everyone and such things. Her character is so spirited in comparison with all other women in the novel, she is a very opinionated woman who is very frank with her thoughts.
- Class: In Pride and Prejudice the lines of class are strictly drawn. The Bennets are seen as the middle class with the Darcy’s and Bingley’s as the higher class. This is why the Bennets are treated as inferiors. You can see this class-bound society clearly in the way Mr. Collins acts to Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Mr. Collins spends most of his time worshipping the ground she walks on. And so he submits to the fact that she is superior to him of lower standing.
The author shows through the marriage between Darcy-Elizabeth and Bingley-Jane that love and happiness can overcome class boundaries and prejudices.
2. The Connection between Title and Theme:
The title signifies how both Darcy and Elizabeth’s pride as well as their prejudices hold them back from love. Elizabeth’s pride makes her misjudge Darcy on the basis of a first impression; she then forms a prejudiceabout Darcy. And so also Darcy does so: he is too proud to get to know a woman of such low standing and forms a prejudice in his mind about women of poor social standing.
Through these prejudices you see that society has influenced them. Class and reputation seem more important to them but they overcome these obstacles and so fall in love.
3. Atmosphere and language:
The story was well formulated but no hard used of language. It was realistic, but not pessimistic. It was a very ‘bright and light’, as the author calls it, story.
C. Personal Evaluation
- I thought the book was well written and it made you understand the ideas of those days better. But I think because we live in a different time now I didn’t like or understand most of the characters. The only two characters I liked were Elizabeth’s and Darcy’s. Their characters were understandable but they still lacked true feeling. And that was what the whole story missed true emotion.
- Realistic because all the events could’ve happened. The chances seem slim though to find two rich guys for the two sisters and also what makes the chances slimmer is that they are two guys who are very devoted to their women.
- The general theme of the book: to put aside pride and to realize that it’s wrong to form a prejudice without knowing the facts. It’s a message I believe the author did a good job in bringing this forward. But again the main thing the author forgot were the feelings behind true love.
The news that a wealthy young gentleman named Charles Bingley has rented the manor of Netherfield Park causes a great stir in the nearby village of Longbourn, especially in the Bennet household. The Bennets have five unmarried daughters—from oldest to youngest, Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Kitty, and Lydia—and Mrs. Bennet is desperate to see them all married. After Mr. Bennet pays a social visit to Mr. Bingley, the Bennets attend a ball at which Mr. Bingley is present. He is taken with Jane and spends much of the evening dancing with her. His close friend, Mr. Darcy, is less pleased with the evening and haughtily refuses to dance with Elizabeth, which makes everyone, view him as arrogant and obnoxious.
At social functions over subsequent weeks, however, Mr. Darcy finds himself increasingly attracted to Elizabeth's charm and intelligence. Jane's friendship with Mr. Bingley also continues to burgeon, and Jane pays a visit to the Bingley mansion. On her journey to the house she is caught in a downpour and catches ill, forcing her to stay at Netherfield for several days. In order to tend to Jane, Elizabeth hikes through muddy fields and arrives with a spattered dress, much to the disdain of the snobbish Miss Bingley, Charles Bingley's sister. Miss Bingley's spite only increases when she notices that Darcy, whom she is pursuing, pays quite a bit of attention to Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth and Jane return home, they find Mr. Collins visiting their household. Mr. Collins is a young clergyman who stands to inherit Mr. Bennet's property, which has been "entailed," meaning that it can only be passed down to male heirs. Mr. Collins is a pompous fool, though he is quite enthralled by the Bennet girls. Shortly after his arrival, he makes a proposal of marriage to Elizabeth. She turns him down, wounding his pride. Meanwhile, the Bennet girls have become friendly with militant officers stationed in a nearby town. Among them is Wickham, a handsome young soldier who is friendly toward Elizabeth and tells her how Darcy cruelly cheated him out of an inheritance.
At the beginning of winter, the Bingleys and Darcy leave Netherfield and return to London, much to Jane's dismay. A further shock arrives with the news that Mr. Collins has become engaged to Charlotte Lucas, Elizabeth's best friend and the poor daughter of a local knight. Charlotte explains to Elizabeth that she is getting older and needs the match for financial reasons. Charlotte and Mr. Collins get married and Elizabeth promises to visit them at their new home. As winter progresses, Jane visits the city to see friends (hoping also that she might see Mr. Bingley). However, Miss Bingley visits her and behaves rudely, while Mr. Bingley fails to visit her at all. The marriage prospects for the Bennet girls appear bleak.
That spring, Elizabeth visits Charlotte, who now lives near the home of Mr. Collins's patron, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who is also Darcy's aunt. Darcy calls on Lady Catherine and encounters Elizabeth, whose presence leads him to make a number of visits to the Collins's home, where she is staying. One day, he makes a shocking proposal of marriage, which Elizabeth quickly refuses. She tells Darcy that she considers him arrogant and unpleasant, then scolds him for steering Bingley away from Jane and disinheriting Wickham. Darcy leaves her but shortly thereafter delivers a letter to her. In this letter, he admits that he urged Bingley to distance himself from Jane, but claims he did so only because he thought their romance was not serious. As for Wickham, he informs Elizabeth that the young officer is a liar and that the real cause of their disagreement was Wickham's attempt to elope with his young sister, Georgiana Darcy.
This letter causes Elizabeth to reevaluate her feelings about Darcy. She returns home and acts coldly toward Wickham. The soldiers are leaving town, which makes the younger, rather man-crazy Bennet girls distraught. Lydia manages to obtain permission from her father to spend the summer with an old colonel in Brighton, where Wickham's regiment will be stationed. With the arrival of June, Elizabeth goes on another journey, this time with the Gardiners, who are relatives of the Bennets. The trip takes her to the North and eventually to the neighborhood of Pemberley, Darcy's estate. She visits Pemberley, after making sure that Darcy is away, and delights in the building and grounds, while hearing from Darcy's servants that he is a wonderful, generous master. Suddenly, Darcy arrives and behaves cordially toward her. Making no mention of his proposal, he entertains the Gardiners and invites Elizabeth to meet his sister.
Shortly thereafter, however, a letter arrives from home, telling Elizabeth that Lydia has eloped with Wickham and that the couple is nowhere to be found, which suggests that they may be living together out of wedlock. Fearful of the disgrace such a situation would bring on her entire family, Elizabeth hastens home. Mr. Gardiner and Mr. Bennet go off to search for Lydia, but Mr. Bennet eventually returns home empty-handed. Just when all hope seems lost, a letter comes from Mr. Gardiner saying that the couple has been found and that Wickham has agreed to marry Lydia in exchange for an annual income. The Bennets are convinced that Mr. Gardiner has paid off Wickham, but Elizabeth learns that the source of the money, and of her family's salvation, was none other than Darcy.
Now married, Wickham and Lydia return to Longbourn briefly, where Mr. Bennet treats them coldly. They then depart for Wickham's new assignment in the North of England. Shortly thereafter, Bingley returns to Netherfield and resumes his courtship of Jane. Darcy goes to stay with him and pays visits to the Bennets but makes no mention of his desire to marry Elizabeth. Bingley, on the other hand, presses his suit and proposes to Jane, to the delight of everyone but Bingley's haughty sister. While the family celebrates, Lady Catherine de Bourgh pays a visit to Longbourn. She corners Elizabeth and says that she has heard that Darcy, her nephew, is planning to marry her. Since she considers a Bennet an unsuitable match for a Darcy, Lady Catherine demands that Elizabeth promise to refuse him. Elizabeth spiritedly refuses, saying that she is not engaged to Darcy, but that she will not promise anything against her own happiness. A little later, Elizabeth and Darcy go out walking together and he tells her that his feelings have not altered since the spring. She tenderly accepts his proposal, and both Jane and Elizabeth are married.
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