.. Pride & Prejudice...
by Lily

from "Pride & Prejudice" (2005)


About the Author

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Jane Austen (1775 – 1817) was an English novelist whose works are widely read for hundreds of years. Through her works she shows her proficiency at using humor and irony in creating brilliant social commentaries and burlesques. It should also be noted that she is an expert on expressing delicate, subtle emotions in words. Nowadays it is publicly recognized that she is one of the greatest English writers in history though in her lifetime she had almost no fame, for she had published anonymously. She had chosen to remain single for all her life, yet many of her works remark the issues with romance, marriage, inheritance, civility, sophistication, and morals. It was during British Regency that her novels were published, a time which took place in between Georgian and Victorian era. She was one of the first on the move to Realism, which, as its name represents, is a belief that things should be described as they appear in everyday life.

She was born in Steventon, a small village in Hampshire as the seventh child of a middle class family. Her father, George Austen was a country clergyman at Steventon, and his wife, Cassandra devoted herself to a life in a rural village, even though she was from a higher social rank, and raised many children. Jane, known as Jenny in the family, was in a closest relationship with her older sister, Cassandra, who, like Jane, never got married. Jane and her sister attended Oxford and later another boarding school until when they were called back by their parents because the family could not afford it. Nevertheless, Jane still had the opportunity of studying at home in Steventon at her father’s five-hundred-volume library and also at circulating libraries, from which she rented many books. At first she began writing short stories and plays as a hobby to entertain her family members, which eventually became the first step of becoming a professional writer.

She published four novels from 1811 until 1815: Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), and Emma (1815). Two other novels were published in 1817 after her death, which are Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. She was in the process of writing another novel when she passed away, which was to be titled Sanditon, a novel that never met its ending.



The story is set in England during the early nineteenth century. Elizabeth Bennet is one of the five daughters of the Bennet family, who live in the country of Netherfield estate, fifty miles from London. Elizabeth is her father’s favorite child because she is sensible, which is the one characteristic his wife lacks. Mrs. Bennet thinks only of getting all her daughters married to prosperous gentlemen. Out of the family, only Jane, the oldest and most beautiful daughter, is almost as sensible and lively as Elizabeth.

One day Mr. Charles Bingley, a rich single man from London, moves to an estate close to the Bennet’s. The neighborhood residents are thrilled by the sudden appearance of such a young, successful gentleman, especially Mrs. Bennet, who plans on marrying Jane to him. When first met at a ball, the Bennets find him very attractive, although they do not like his friend, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, who is too proud to speak to any of the locals and whom Elizabeth overhears refusing to dance with her. Both gentlemen begin their acquaintance with their neighbors, and soon Jane, though embarrassed by her mother’s interference, begins to have a close and affectionate relationship with Bingley. Elizabeth, in contrast, returns Darcy’s proud dislike of the country by a cold, satirical manner toward him. So when she hears about Darcy’s evildoing from Mr. Wickham, a soldier whom Elizabeth is fond of, she believes the story without a doubt or reason, and is even pleased of having another reason to hate Mr. Darcy. Elizabeth shows no affection toward him, arguing every time they see each other. However, unknowingly to both, Darcy begins to like Elizabeth, for she is the first one to actually stand up against him.

When Bingley and his company suddenly leave for town and give to attention to Jane anymore, she laments over his change of attitude. Elizabeth cannot believe that Bingley, who obviously had affection for Jane, could leave her like this. She concludes that there must be something hidden from them that would explain his doings. This mystery begins to unfold as Elizabeth visits her childhood friend, Charlotte, who has married her cousin, Mr. Collins, who once proposed to Elizabeth but was rejected. Close to them lives the aunt of Mr. Darcy, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. During Elizabeth’s stay at her cousin’s house she often visits her as well, and accidentally finds Mr. Darcy visiting his aunt. After Elizabeth had several encounters with him during her visit, to her great surprise, Darcy suddenly proposes to her. However, believing in his evildoing that Wickham has told her, and also suspecting him of having a role in the sudden disappearance of Bingley, she rejects him and questions him on the mater. The next day Darcy gives her a letter of explanation and leaves the estate. Reading the letter, Elizabeth realizes that she had been misunderstanding his character and that Wickham has deceived the whole community of the countryside. She regrets bitterly of her actions of denying his proposal and truthfulness.

After months, Elizabeth goes on a summer vacation with her uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. Gardiners. While cruising through the garden of Darcy’s estate because doing so was her uncle and aunt’s request, she accidentally meets Darcy again. She finds him different in character; he treats them with much more kindness and politeness than before. A small hope is born within Elizabeth that he may still love her, but before anything could happen, she receives a letter from Jane on the news of her youngest sister eloping with Wickham, and hurriedly returns home.

When the mess that was created by Wickham and her sister was straightened out and they got married safely, Elizabeth finds Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley at Netherfield again. She is very much surprised by their arrival, for she thought that the indignity that her sister’s marriage brought to the family was so great that neither Jane nor Elizabeth would be able to marry their dream lover. Jane and Bingley resolve the misunderstanding and get engaged. On the other hand, Elizabeth thanks Mr. Darcy for what he had done anonymously for her family. Mrs. Gardiner has told Elizabeth that Darcy had played the most important role in settling the Wickhams together. Then they, too, resolve their misunderstandings and Elizabeth finally accepts his proposal.


Many Editions of Pride and Prejudice

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My Review


It had been a while since I last read a peaceful love story like Pride and Prejudice. I enjoyed reading it, although it was easy to predict how the story developed. The language style of the novel is classic and elegant, which I liked very much.

The major theme in this novel is, of course, “pride and prejudice.” In addition, I think “love and romance” could be another theme as well. The message of the novel that is intended to be passed on to the readers, I think, is that “pride” or “prejudice” will only allow disputes to happen, never “love” or “romance.” In other words, “love” and “romance” can be formed when one abandons his or her own “pride” and “prejudice” of the other person. These two possible themes are intimately connected in their meanings. Therefore I consider “love and romance” as a theme of about the same importance as “pride and prejudice.”
There is a passage in the novel where Mary, the third daughter of the Bennet family who is interested only in reading books, says the following:

“ ‘Pride,’ observed Mary, who piqued herself upon the solidity of her reflections, ‘is a very common failing I believe. By all that I have ever read, I am convinced that it is very common indeed, that human nature is particularly prone to it, and that there are very few of us who do not cherish a feeling of self-complacency on the score of some quality or other, real or imaginary. Vanity and pride are two different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.’ ” - from Chapter 5, Pride and Prejudice

The moment I read this passage, I had decided on addressing it in my review. The reason for it is because I am certain that this is the Jane Austen’s view. The model for Mary Bennet is possibly Jane Austen herself because Mary reads books all the time, and Austen was probably a child who spent most of her time reading. It is very exciting to find such things from books, which is the reason why I love reading.

Jane Austen’s novels are often considered social commentaries, and I think Pride and Prejudice is also a social commentary that highlights the problems with social ranks, dignity of a family name, etc. The common problem with social ranks is that the intercourse of different ranks is always disagreeable to some. There qualification for “high class” people, such as Mr. Darcy and Lady Catherine de Bourgh, include prosperity and connection to respectable people. The Bennets do not fit in the category of “high class,” which is a disadvantage when finding husbands for the five daughters. Elizabeth does marry Darcy at the end, but Lady Catherine has always viciously disapproved the engagement, as shown below in a conversation between Elizabeth and Lady Catherine.

“ ‘If Mr. Darcy is neither by honour nor inclination confined to his cousin, why is not he to make another choice? And if I am that choice, why may not I accept him?’ ‘Because honour, decorum, prudence, nay, interest, forbid it. Yes, Miss Bennet, interest; for do not expect to be noticed by his family and friends, if you wilfully act against the inclinations of all. You will be censured, slighted, and despised, by everyone connected with him. Your alliance will be a disgrace; your name will never be mentioned by any of us.’ ”- from Chapter 56, Pride and Prejudice
The main purpose of marriages used to be creating bonds with different families in the old days. However, if Pride and Prejudice truthfully represents the public opinions during the British Regency, I think the definition of marriage was beginning to change.

The setting for the story is England during the early nineteenth century, which is a world that was very hard for me to picture at first. Jane Austen, however, describes the lifestyle of the time in details, which has made it easy for me to grasp the atmosphere.


George IV, the King of England during the British Regency

England during British Regency

Pride and Prejudice takes place in England during the early nineteenth century, which is called the British Regency. British Regency is the transitional period between Georgian and Victorian Era. During this time the Napoleonic wars and many riots occurred, possibly influenced by the success of a major revolution in France, which was later named the French Revolution.

On the other hand, people’s everyday lives, as realistically described in the novel, the distinct lines in between different social ranks were just starting to fade. For example, a daughter of a servant could be a mistress of an high class gentleman if asked for marriage. However, this is just to note that it was not impossible; it was very unlikely that such a marriage would be accepted. Jane Austin, being a realist, is believed to have written her novels in regard of the reality.


Sequels to Pride and Prejudice

To such a beloved novel as Pride and Prejudice is, there are many fans who want sequels. Many writers, being fans of Jane Austen themselves, wrote their own version of "Pride and Prejudice - Continued." I would like to introduce a few of them.

Linda Berdoll

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Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife: Pride and Prejudice Continues

This book is a sequel to Pride and Prejudice, which continues the story of a happy, yet adventurous, life of Elizabeth and Darcy.

Darcy and Elizabeth: Nights and Days at Pemberley

This is the second sequel, which takes place in the estate of Pemberley as the Darcy's raise their babies.

Elizabeth Aston

external image aston.jpgMr. Darcy's Daughters

In the year 1818, Elizabeth and Darcy travels to Constantinople leaving their five daughters in Pemberley.

The Exploits and Adventures of Miss Alethea Darcy

Alethea, the youngest and most rebellious of the five daughters of Elizabeth and Darcy, marries with an awful husband, and plans to escape. In order to do so, she disguises herself as a man.

The True Darcy Spirit

Cassandra Darcy, the eldest daughter of Anne de Bourgh, is disowned by her family and strives to make a living by painting.

... and more.

Pamela Aidan

external image C_36241002.jpgAn Assembly Such As This: A Novel of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman

This book is not a sequel, but a novel that takes place in the same time as Pride in Prejudice, only from a different point of view - Darcy leads the story.

Duty and Desire: A Novel of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman

The ultimate question every reader of Pride and Prejudice would have will be answered. "Who is Fitzwilliam Darcy?"

These Three Remain: A Novel of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman

The thrilling conclusion to the trilogy of "Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman." The story follows Darcy on the journey of self-discovery.

. European Literature Class Project