Critical Analysis of Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen (December 16, 1775 – July 18, 1817) was an English novelist who used realism, caustic social critique, and free indirect speech in her works. Austen’s writings are influenced in some way by her background, region, and time. They are part of the transition from sensibility novels of the second half of the eighteenth century to nineteenth-century realism. Austen’s stories, while primarily comedic, highlight women’s need on marriage to obtain social position and economic security. One of her most powerful influences, and her works are focused with moral themes.
The plot of Pride and Prejudice revolves around Elizabeth Bennet, a strong-willed, educated woman. It is a romantic comedy set in the early 1800s about a man’s pride and a woman’s prejudice. There is a family of Bennets who lives in a time when the only option for a woman to become wealthy or raise her social rank is to marry. The Bennets’ social behaviour is influenced by the fact that they have no son and five adolescent daughters, Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Lydia, and Kitty, who are undoubtedly middle-class.
The story begins with the Bingleys’ arrival in Hertfordshire, where the Bennets lived. Mr Bingley and the Bennet sisters met at a dance, and Mr Bingley fell in love with Jane right away. Mr Darcy is Mr Bingley’s close friend, and he is also there at the celebration. His odd reserved laconic demeanour is perceived and viewed as indecent and arrogant by the social gathering, particularly Elizabeth. Surprisingly, he begins to like her. Mr Bingley falls in love with Jane as a result of events. Mr Darcy, on the other hand, is cautious and feels Jane is only interested in money, so he separates them. After extended periods of no interaction between the families, the Bennets lose hope in Jane’s marriage and become unhappy, especially Mrs Bennet, whose entire goal in life is the successful marriage of her daughters.
Mr Collins and Mr Wickham can be considered the antagonists. Their presence causes problems in the life of the Bennets, particularly the latter, who dupes Lydia, the youngest Bennet, into falling in love and fleeing, subsequently demanding money for their marriage in order to avoid infamy in the Bennet family. Among these occurrences, Mr Darcy proposes to Elizabeth, who, unaware of the truth and filled with contempt for him, rejects him coldly. However, she later learns the true nature of Mr Wickham and Mr Darcy and regrets her previous acts and prejudices.
The plot and story are straightforward. The incidents reveal to the reader the common practice among families, men and women. “It is a universally acknowledged truth that a single man with a good fortune must be in need of a wife.” And, of course, a single woman looking for good fortune must also be looking for a husband who has one!” These statements appear to apply to all of the characters in the book, whether it is Miss Jane or the relatively wealthy Miss Darcy. The plot revolves around the social problems of a group of young ladies, including the optimistic Jane, the sensible Elizabeth, the introverted Mary and Kitty, and the stupid flirt Lydia.
The described situation may not be found in Western countries nowadays, but it can be found in developing sections of India. The magnificent catering of visitors and other niceties are undoubtedly lacking from today’s society, but a family of five daughters alone may face similar troubles and public humiliation as a result of Miss Lydia Bennet’s improper behaviour. The book does not transmit a message in and of itself, but rather encourages readers to create their own interpretation.
The novel’s language is straightforward and verbose at times, making the reading tedious, as is the case with most feminist books. In 1813, however, one cannot expect a feminist book written in the traditional Dan Brown thriller style. Personally, I will not recommend the novel to others, partly because there are thousands of other books that should be read first. On first reading, ‘Catcher in the Rye’ makes more sense than ‘Pride and Prejudice.’