Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice

January 28, 1813

Pride and Prejudice is set in rural England in the early 19th century, and it follows the Bennet family, which includes five very different sisters. Mrs. Bennet is anxious to see all her daughters married, especially as the modest family estate is to...

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496 Pages
4.5

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Book Content


Pride and Prejudice is set in rural England in the early 19th century, and it follows the Bennet family, which includes five very different sisters. Mrs. Bennet is anxious to see all her daughters married, especially as the modest family estate is to be inherited by William Collins when Mr. Bennet dies.

Pride and Prejudice is an 1813 romantic novel of manners written by Jane Austen. The novel follows the character development of Elizabeth Bennet, the dynamic protagonist of the book, who learns about the repercussions of hasty judgments and eventually comes to appreciate the difference between superficial goodness and actual goodness. A classic piece filled with comedy, its humour lies in its honest depiction of manners, education, marriage and money during the Regency era in Great Britain.

Jane Austen (16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817) was an English novelist known primarily for her six major novels, which interpret, critique and comment upon the British landed gentry at the end of the 18th century. Austen's plots often explore the dependence of women on marriage in the pursuit of favourable social standing and economic security. Her works critique the novels of sensibility of the second half of the 18th century and are part of the transition to 19th-century literary realism. Her use of biting irony, along with her realism, humour, and social commentary, have long earned her acclaim among critics, scholars, and popular audiences alike.

Chapters:

 

    Volume I:

        Chapters 1-3

        The Bennets at home; Meryton assembly (25 K)

        Chapters 4-6

        Meryton assembly post-mortem; Charlotte, evening at Sir William's (35 K)

        Chapters 7-9

        Jane to Netherfield, later also Elizabeth and Mrs. Bennet (42 K)

        Chapters 10-12

        Elizabeth and Jane at Netherfield, in Ch. 12 they go home (36 K)

        Chapters 13-15

        Mr. Collins arrives; Collins at Longbourn; excursion to Meryton (32 K)

        Chapters 16-18

        Elizabeth and Wickham; the Netherfield ball (72 K)

        Chapters 19-21

        Mr. Collins's proposal, its aftermath, the Bingley departure from Netherfield (41 K)

        Chapters 22-23

        Mr. Collins and Charlotte, Mr. Collins's return (25 K)

 

    Volume II:

        Chapters 24-26

        Elizabeth and Jane, the Gardiners at Netherfield, Jane to London (38 K)

        Chapters 27-29

        Elizabeth to London, to Kent, and at Rosings (37 K)

        Chapters 30-32

        Darcy and Elizabeth at Rosings (30 K)

        Chapters 33-35

        Elizabeth and Col. Fitzwilliam, Darcy's proposal and letter (50 K)

        Chapters 36-38

        Letter post-mortem, Rosings after Darcy's departure, Elizabeth to London (32 K)

        Chapters 39-42

        Elizabeth and Jane go home, Lydia's Brighton scheme, Elizabeth and the Gardiners to Derbyshire (52 K)

 

    Volume III:

        Chapters 43-45

        Elizabeth at Pemberley, the Darcys with Elizabeth at Lambton, Elizabeth with Mrs. Gardiner at Pemberley (61 K)

        Chapters 46-48

        Letters from Jane; Elizabeth and the Gadiners to Longbourn; Mr. Gardiner to London, Mr. Bennet to Longbourn (65 K)

        Chapters 49-51

        Letter from Mr. Gardiner; Lydia's wedding approaching; Lydia and Wickham at Longbourn (46 K)

        Chapters 52-54

        Mrs. Gardiner's lettter to Elizabeth; Darcy/Bingley to Netherfield; Darcy/Bingley at Longbourn (51 K)

        Chapters 55-57

        Jane's engagement; visit of Lady Catherine; Mr. Bennet and Elizabeth (48 K)

        Chapters 58-61

        Elizabeth and Darcy; family approves; wrap-up; the weddings (53 K)

Review:

 

This review of Pride and Prejudice appeared in the journal The Critical Review in March 1813, two months after the novel’s publication. Like Jane Austen, The Critical Review was politically Tory. The review is anonymous.

The reviewer describes in detail the plot and characters of Pride and Prejudice. Today, readers tend to regard the novel primarily as a love story between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy. Here, the reviewer identifies Elizabeth as the main character, but emphasises that the novel is the story of a whole family. He suggests that this distinguishes Pride and Prejudice from most novels of the time, in which ‘the whole interest of the tale hang[s] upon one or two characters’.

Literary allusions

The reviewer compares Elizabeth Bennet to Beatrice in William Shakespeare’s play Much Ado About Nothing. Beatrice is a witty and independent-minded woman who despises men and marriage. She argues continually with Benedick, the hero of the play, yet the lively, punning character of their arguments mark them out as well-matched, just as Elizabeth and Darcy’s combative, playful conversations demonstrate their suitability for one another. The reviewer also alludes to another comic play when he compares Wickham to Joseph Surface, a character in Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s comedy of manners The School for Scandal (1777).

Realism and morality

As in other contemporary reviews of Austen’s novels, this review praises the realistic nature of the scenes and characters in Pride and Prejudice. The reviewer observes that ‘[m]any such silly women as Mrs Bennet may be found; and numerous parsons like Mr Collins’. Two years later, Walter Scott would write in his review of Emma that he had a friend who was ‘recognized by his own family as the original of Mr. Bennet’. It is unlikely that Austen really did base Mr Bennet on this person (her nephew James Leigh-Austen wrote that ‘her own relations never recognised any individual in her characters’), but the anecdote suggests how realistic her characters appeared to readers.

However, the reviewer sees Pride and Prejudice as having a purpose that goes beyond social and psychological realism. He suggests that the novel contains practical and moral advice: Lydia’s elopement contains an ‘excellent lesson’, and readers may find ‘useful’ the author’s assessment of the line between greed and practicality in the choice of a husband.

 

A compelling classic that will delight any taste in literature. I think that mature readers of age 13 and up should enjoy this. It is a light-hearted story that took me a while to read, but it is worth it.

 

 

 

 

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