Jane Austen’s intention in Pride and Prejudice is to present a comedy of manners, the follies and vices of men and to expose them to ridicule by employing into the devices of comedy, parody, irony, wits, satire or may be each one of them as it is suitable for the occasion. Her characters are obvious from the very beginning. She touches the humorous side of almost every scene. Imagine a picnic scene in Emma or a proposal scene in Pride and Prejudice. In all her novels, she mocked, ridiculed but never made it funny.

Illustration: "Pride and Prejudice" by Vikram Roy © 2012.

Jane Austen’s domestic novels are wealthy for character studies. They are not equally same, those of women are more intelligent and life-like than those of men. Realism in Austen is more psychological than that of Pamela by Samuel Richardson. Austen’s are free from the tragic obsessions. A comic view of life informs Austen’s art of characterization. Comic characters presented in Pride and Prejudice are Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, Mr. Collins and Lady Catherine de Bourgh.

Mr. and Mrs. Bennet reveal a marital situation that is full of irony. Mr. Bennet captured by a pretty-face and tied with a foolish, vulgar and ignorant woman for the rest of his life. As a result he forced into a situation that he had to retire from his study. He hardly tried to cultivate his wife’s follies and vulgarity. He was an odd mixture of comic and good sense of humour. Mrs. Bennet in her twenty-three years of married life failed to understand him properly. She is a woman of “mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper.” The only ambition of her life is to give marry of her daughters. Lydia eloped with Wickham because of her mother’s such odd kind of thinking. Mr. Bennet shocked for a moment!

Mr. Collines is also of a kind of comic character. He proposed Elizabeth, she refused. Then he proposed a friend of Elizabeth, Charlotte Lucas, an intelligent girl and she deliberately accepted Mr. Collines! She knows it was her last chance to improve her future and social position.

According to the laws of early 19th century England, girls cannot get the property or estate of their father’s. In absence of a male issue, a man’s property was entailed to his nearest male relative. In the case of Mr. Bennet, his property would pass to Mr. Collines at Mr. Bennet’s death. Mr. Bennet’s daughters would thus get nothing at their father’s death. Even his wife, Mrs. Bennet would get nothing from his property. Thus, Collines betrayed with the Bennet family by marrying Charlotte Lucas. Elizabeth shocked! Austen solved it by Elizabeth’s visit to the Collinses at Hunsford.

Lady Catherine is another remarkable character. Austen showed here the class-division of the English society, a bogus part of the English life. Lady Catherine’s pride did not washed up even after Elizabeth’s marriage with Darcy.

Austen’s novels are themselves ironic and invariably display the comic side of the characters. Her philosophy is firmly based on women are always superior to their husbands in wits and irony. Her characters are more or less funny in proportion to their command of common sense.

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About VIKRAM ROY

Hi, I am Vikram, a friend of you! I would like to take this opportunity of personally welcoming you to my blog! You can read my book “The Alchemist A Mystery In Three Acts” Available now on Amazon.com : http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005IDUD4C Always love, Vikram Roy

25 responses »

  1. LindsayODonnell says:

    I love Pride & Prejudice! It’s definitely one of my favorite novels. I feel that Austin really captures the quiet desperation of women whose livelihoods depend on first their fathers (and their father’s social rank) and then by their husbands. Her strongest characters are those like Elizabeth who refuse to compromise themselves or their character to capture a man.

  2. ksgarvin says:

    I’m reading this now for the first time. I didn’t expect it to be funny, but it is, in a very tongue-and-cheek sort of way.

  3. Nandasiri Wanninayaka says:

    I did Pride and Prejudice for my Advanced Level English and have watched both the English movies based on the book. Not to mention the Indian version of it, Bride and Prejudice.

    I like the way you have written this article about the novel.

  4. Hi Vikram,

    Was passing by and found your post a very refreshing perspective. Pride and Prejudice continues to be one of my all time favourites. Not because it is a great literary effort ( its not!) but because of the elaborate personality undertones of many of the characters including the main protagonists.

    Keep writing!

    Shakti

  5. Doraz says:

    I also liked this book. 🙂

  6. melfrommass says:

    This is one of the ones I missed in school. I’m digging the drawing — wish I could draw!

  7. VIKRAM ROY says:

    You must try, drawing is very easy. You like art means, art is inside you! 🙂 Thanks!

    • Desi Woman says:

      Love P&P and your post reminds me that it’s been a few months since I watched the BBC version and read the book. BTW, I don’t agree with you about drawing being easy, I like and appreciate art, but cannot draw to save my life if I had to. Really nice post though. You shd review S&S and Emma too.

  8. I/we love Jane Austen. Free from tragic obsessions, indeed. It’s always redemptive to read a story about the underdogs she portrays and their triumphs, in the end. Not to say there are not hardships, but it’s just sweet to always know we won’t be disappointed. 😉

  9. I love this book and your review reminds me that it’s been too long since I’ve read it!!

  10. susanbright says:

    Pride and Prejudice was one of my all time favorites! Great post!

  11. Julie says:

    I just have a couple of nit-picky comments about your review. Girls CAN inherit money and property in P&P. Lady Catherine tells us point-blank that her daughter, Anne, will inherit Rosings and all it encompasses. The Bennet girls can’t inherit Longbourne because the original owner intended that it stay in the family and could therefore only be inherited by a male relative. But women most certainly could inherit.

    I also beg to differ that Austen’s women are superior to their husbands. I’d love to hear your reasoning. In P&P, Elizabeth and Darcy are pretty equal in terms of intelligence. He’s her superior socially, but they are equals in terms of intelligence. In “Persuasion” (which happens to be my favorite Austen novel), Anne Elliot may be Frederick’s superior socially since she’s the daughter of a baronet, but Frederick is no slouch. And so on.

    • VIKRAM ROY says:

      According to the 19th century, if we go through the authors than Austen, then Austen’s women characters are smarter.

      The 19th century, most of the literatures are male character dominated. You can take dramas, fictions, non-fictions, detective novels, horror literature etc. There are rare women dominated literatures or man are equal to women in merits I remember. The point is, in P&P Darcy and Elizabeth both showed pretty equal. This is the reason P&P becomes a revolutionary novel. You can see mostly women are start interfering in social issues in the very beginning of the 20th century (example: Virginia Woolf and so many dominated personalities in politics, art, literature, films etc). This is directly or indirectly an influence of Austen’s women characters, they are very popular literature in that age.

      In case of inherit money and property, this is still remain in the shadow. Austen showed us the both possibilities, and this is another smell of revolution we can smell.

      BTW Julie your views are respected too! Thanks for taking it to a conversational direction. I hope other readers should contribute their individual perceptions in that topic. I also think my answer is not satisfactory. I am expecting more light from an literary expert.

      • Julie says:

        Austen’s earliest works (S&S, P&P and NA) were written in the 18th century, but they were revised and published in the 19th century. Her later novels (Emma, MP and Persuasion, were all written and published in the 19th). She was a Regency author, and the Regency period in Britain was from 1811 to 1820. S&S, Austen’s first published work, was published in 1812, so Janeites are currently celebrating the bi-centenary of this novel.

        There is no doubt that Austen’s heroines are smart, but so are other heroines from the 18th and 19th centuries. Fanny Burney’s heroines aren’t stupid. Same with Maria Edgeworth’s heroines and the Bronte sisters’ heroines. Becky Sharpe is not exactly a “heroine,” but she is the lead character in her novel, and she is very smart. So is Moll Flanders. Moll may not be book smart, but she knows how to take care of herself.

        As for inheriting money, there is no “shadow,” in my opinion. As I said before, in P&P, Anne de Bourgh will inherit Rosings. There is no gray area here. The Bingley sisters’ father had no property, but they each inherited around 20,000 pounds, as did Georgiana Darcy. In S&S, Miss Grey, the woman who marries Willoughby, is an heiress, as is Miss Morton, the woman Edward Ferrars’ mother wants him to marry. True, it was rare for a woman to inherit property, but it was not impossible.

    • VIKRAM ROY says:

      Sorry Julie, I can’t judge you or defend myself in that case. I didn’t read too many similar kinds of literature. What I read in P&P, S&S, Jane Eyre, Madame Bovary, Wuthering Heights, are all different women characters in socially and homely manner. They all are intelectual, and not morons. But Austen’s women are dominant than the others. They are modern.

      BTW there is a mistake I have done in the early discussion.. the 18th will be the 19th and the 19th will be the 20th. I miscalculate in mind and sorry for that!

  12. Love your insight into Pride & Prejudice. I love the books of Jane Austin. Cheeky, daring and humourous for sure. I own the BBC version of P&P and every now and then I need a fix. I think I will just watch 3 hours of this 6 hour series and then go to bed. But rarely can I turn it off and I luxuriate in a 6 hour journey of brilliant dialogue and prose.

  13. sagarika says:

    loved your posts… loved u r take on pride n prejudice … esp liked all u r sketches

    • Rai Faisal Gogera says:

      please sagarika ji tell me about pride and prejudice as a domestic comedy plz answer me i c’not find in google

  14. semanti roy says:

    nice one vikram…. it helped me with an answer in my honours paper…. had it been a little more detailed it would have helped even more:)

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