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Saturday, November 6, 2010


"Irony is the soul of Jane Austen's comedy".

Substantiate with reference to Pride and Prejudice.


Some Kind of Contrast at the Root of Irony
Irony arises from some kind of contrast. It is generally a contrast
between appearance and reality. It may be a contrast between what
a character thinks himself to be, and what he really is; between
what he believes, and what the reader knows to be actually the
case; between what a character says, and what he really means to
convey; between what a character thinks he will do or achieve, and
what he really in the long run does or achieves; between what the
reader thinks is going to happen, and what actually happens;
between the reader's or a character's anticipation and the actual
event; and so on.
Irony may produce a comic effect or a tragic effect, depending upon
the circumstances of the case. Thus, we find abundant examples of
irony in both the comic and the tragic plays of Shakespeare. This
means that the use of irony by an author may amuse the reader or
may sadden him all the more.
Comic Irony in the Novels of Jane Austen
Jane Austen is a comic writer and, therefore, the use of irony in her
novels adds to the comic effect at which she aims. In other words, in
the novels of Jane Austen we have comic irony; and, indeed, she
gives us plenty of it. It may also be pointed out that irony may exist
in a situation or in a piece of dialogue or in a remark or in a belief
which a character has or expresses, and so on. Furthermore, irony
may be conscious on the part of a character, or it may be
unconscious. On the part of the author, however, irony is always
conscious.
Ironical Reversal of the Situation in
the Darcy-Elizabeth Plot
Irony is all-pervasive in Pride and Prejudice. It penetrates the whole
structure of this novel. We find the use of irony in this novel from its
beginning to its end. There are a large number of situations which
are characterized by irony; and there are a large number of ironical
remarks. In several cases what eventually happens is the reverse of
what we had anticipated. Indeed, comic reversals in the novel show
how extensive the use of irony here is. There is irony in the very
manner in which the main plot of the novel develops and ends. The
main plot pertains to Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. This plot begins with a
mutual dislike between these two persons. Mr. Darcy does not feel
like dancing with Elizabeth because he does not find her attractive
or handsome enough. Elizabeth who over hears Mr. Darcy
expressing an unfavourable opinion about her, conceives a dislike
for him. Elizabeth's dislike goes on increasing because she finds Mr.
Darcy to be a very proud and haughty kind of man. Mr. Darcy's
initial opinion of Elizabeth begins to undergo a change and he feels
more and more attracted by her as days pass by. Although Mr. Darcy

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has begun to like Elizabeth, yet the idea of marrying her is far from
his thoughts because she is far below him in social status. Such is
the situation in the beginning and upto the middle. We may even
describe the initial relationship between these two persons as a sort
of mutual antagonism. And yet eventually these two antagonists are
united in wedlock. In fact, both have now begun to feel that they are
best suited to each other as life-partners. Here we have a striking
case of an ironic reversal.
Irony Behind Mr. Darcy's Opposition
to Mr. Bingley's Wish
Then there is irony in Mr. Darcy's urging his friend Mr. Bingley to give
up his intention to marry Jane, and his succeeding in this endeavour.
Of course, the irony here is unconscious as it is in the case cited
before. Mr. Darcy tells Mr. Bingley that Jane is not so much in love
with him (Mr. Bingley) as he (Mr. Bingley) is in love with her.
Accordingly, Mr. Bingley gives up his idea of proposing marriage to
Jane. But afterwards Mr. Darcy has to change his view and has then
to withdraw the pressure which he had been exerting upon Mr.
Bingley. Eventually, Mr. Bingley does propose marriage to Jane, and
she accepts him. This too is a case of an ironic reversal so far as Mr.
Darcy's original opposition to Mr. Bingley's wish is
concerned.
Irony in Elizabeth's Contempt for Mr. Collins
Elizabeth finds Mr. Collins to be an oddity not worth her attention.
She finds him to be a pompous, conceited, and silly man whom no
decent girl would agree to marry. Elizabeth thus begins to hold Mr.
Collins in contempt. Even Charlotte falls in Elizabeth's esteem
because Charlotte agrees to marry that man. And yet the same Mr.
Collins provides a basis for Elizabeth's visit to Hunsford where Mr.
Collins lives and where Charlotte has settled down as Mr. Collins's
wife. It is at Hunsford that Elizabeth again happens to meet Mr.
Darcy, who now makes a proposal of marriage to her, though she
rejects this proposal. And at Hunsford it is that Elizabeth receives
from Mr. Darcy a letter in which Mr. Darcy has defended himself
against the charges which she had brought against him on the
preceding day when he proposed marriage to her. Her reading of
this letter is the turning-point in her attitude to him. Thus Mr. Collins,
who was odious and obnoxious in Elizabeth's eyes, becomes
unconsciously and unknowingly instrumental in bringing Elizabeth
and Mr. Darcy a little close to each other. Some of Elizabeth's
prejudice against Mr. Darcy is removed by her reading of Mr. Darcy's
letter. Irony in this case resides in Mr. Collins's serving a purpose
which could never be expected from him, though he serves the
purpose unconsciously.
The Irony behind the Expectation Regarding Lydia
The shifting of the militia regiment from a site near the town of
Meryton to a site near Brighton is expected to put an end to Lydia's
meeting its officers frequently and flirting with them. Lydia was

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getting spoilt by her mixing with the officers indiscriminately; and
the transfer of the regiment means that she would now be cut off
from the officers with whom she was becoming more and more
intimate and thus exposing herself to scandal and even of
exploitation by some of them. But the reverse of what had been
expected happens. In Brighton she becomes even more intimate
with one of the officers of that very regiment and elopes with him,
thus bringing disgrace to her family. (That officer is Mr. Wickham).
The irony here results from the contrast between what was expected
and what actually happens.
The Irony behind Mr. Wickham's Role
Mr. Wickham is the man who has made a determined attempt to
defame Mr. Darcy and to discredit him in the eyes of Elizabeth. He is
the man whom Mr. Darcy held in great contempt; and he is the man
who has been trying to avoid meeting Mr. Darcy just as Mr. Darcy
has been trying to avoid him. He is the man who had almost won
Elizabeth's trust and who might even have won her heart. Mr.
Darcy's letter, however, reveals to Elizabeth the reality of the man;
and she also now begins to hate him. And yet this man, whom Mr.
Darcy had been hating and whom Elizabeth has now begun to hate,
ultimately proves instrumental in bringing Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy
one step closer to each other. Mr. Darcy's intervention in the LydiaWickham affair, and his bringing about the marriage of the two
runaways, creates a profound effect on Elizabeth who therefore
moves emotionally much closer to Mr. Darcy as a consequence of
the service which Mr. Darcy has done to the Bennet family. The irony
here resides in the fact that Mr. Wickham, who had aggravated
Elizabeths prejudice against Mr. Darcy, ultimately proves the means
by which Elizabeth feels further attracted towards Mr. Darcy. This is
a case of an ironic reversal of the situation. There is similar irony in
Lady Catherine's warnings to Elizabeth not to marry Mr. Darcy. Lady
Catherine tries her utmost to prevent a marriage between Elizabeth
and Mr. Darcy but in the event she proves instrumental in bringing
them closer to each other and hastening their marriage.
Ironical Remarks, Made by Some of the Characters
We then come to examples of remarks which are ironical. A speaker
is said to have made an ironical remark when he means just the
opposite of what he actually says. For instance, Mr. Bennet has
formed a very low opinion of Mr. Wickham who had brought disgrace
to the Bennet family by having lured Lydia to elope with him. After
Lydia has got married to Mr. Wickham and the couple has paid a visit
to Longbourn, Mr. Bennet expresses his opinion about Mr. Wickham
in the following manner: "He is as fine a fellow as ever I saw. He
simpers, and smirks, and makes love to us all. I am prodigiously
proud of him." Here is a striking example of irony. On the surface,
Mr. Bennet's remarks about Mr. Wickham are highly complimentary;
but actually these remarks are intended to discredit Mr. Wickham in
the eyes of his listeners. In other words, Mr. Bennet here means
exactly the opposite of what he has said. Actually Mr. Bennet is

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ashamed of having Mr. Wickham as a son-in-law, but here he says
that he is enormously proud of that man. A similar irony is to be
found in another remark which Mr. Bennet makes about Mr.
Wickham. Mr. Bennet, speaking to Elizabeth, says: "I admire all my
three sons-in-law highly. Wickham, perhaps, is my favourite." Here,
again, Mr. Bennet seems to be praising Mr. Wickham, but he means
just the opposite when he says that Mr. Wickham is his favourite
son-in-law. Mr. Bennet's remark early in the novel about Mrs.
Bennet's nerves is also ironical. Mr. Bennet tells his wife that he has
a high respect for her nerves, adding that her nerves are his old
friends. Here he seems outwardly to be paying a compliment to his
wife and her nerves; but actually he is poking funat her. His remark
here is a sarcastic one. Elizabeth's remark early in the novel, that
Mr. Darcy has no defects at all in his character, is ironical because
Elizabeth means just the opposite of what she has said. She has
found a serious fault in him, the fault being pride or vanity; but she
conveys her adverse opinion by making a remark which on the
surface is a compliment to Mr. Darcy. Elizabeth makes an ironical
remark about Mr. Collins when she tells her sister Jane that she
hopes to find as good a husband as Mr. Collins is to his wife.
Actually, Elizabeth has a very low opinion about Mr. Collins, and she
had rejected Mr. Collins's proposal of marriage twice. Therefore,
when she says that she hopes to find a husband of the same kind as
Mr. Collins, she means just the opposite of what she is saying. Yet
another ironical remark made by Elizabeth is that Lady Catherine
loves to be of use to people, and that she has also been of infinite
use to her (Elizabeth) and Mr. Darcy. Actually, of course, Elizabeth
means that Lady Catherine had tried to keep Elizabeth away from
Mr. Darcy entirely and had thus been wanting to hurt Elizabeth. But
her remark on the surface is a compliment to Lady Catherine.
Sometimes there is unconscious irony in a remark made by a
character. At the very outset Mr. Darcy says that Elizabeth is not
handsome enough to tempt him to dance with her. Now, there is a
hidden irony in this remark, and even Mr. Darcy himself is not
conscious of this irony. Subsequently, Mr. Darcy not only finds
Elizabeth handsome enough to dance with but handsome enough to
propose marriage to. Not many days after making that remark, Mr.
Darcy feels bewitched by Elizabeth's charms. There is unconscious
irony also in Elizabeth's telling Mr. Collins that she would never
refuse a first proposal of marriage and then accept a second
proposal from the same man. But Elizabeth does exactly what she
here says she would never do. She rejects Mr. Darcy's first proposal
of marriage, but later accepts his second proposal. Finally, the very
opening sentence of the novel has been regarded as a striking
example of irony on the part of the author.
Irony, a Source of Mirth and Merriment
As already pointed out at the outset, the irony in Jane Austen's
novels is comic irony. And so the irony in Pride and Prejudice amuses
us and makes us smile, if not laugh. Each of the examples of irony

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given above adds to our mirth and merriment. We feel tickled by
ironical reversals of situation and by ironical remarks, and so we
enjoy reading the novel even more than we would otherwise have
done.
aturday, November 6, 2010

According to a critic, one of the important themes


in Pride and Prejudice is parenthood. How is this
theme dealt with in this novel?
The Need of Parental Supervision over Children
Parenthood is indeed an important theme in Pride and Prejudice.
And it is not the excellences of parenthood which the novel
highlights; it is the deficiencies in parental supervision over children
that are brought into prominence by the author. The novel seeks to
show that the upbringing of children is something to which many
parents up not attach that importance which it deserves. In fact, the
writer shows her concern for the need of proper upbringing of
children by parents by exposing to our view what goes wrong when
parents fail in this duty or take the matter lightly or are too lazy to
pay any attention to it.
The Failure of Mr. Bennet to Put a
Check upon Lydia and Kitty
Early in the novel we witness the sad consequences of parental
neglect in bringing up and educating children properly or
adequately. Mr. and Mrs. Bennet are the parents concerned and in
Chapter 7 we are told of the excessive interest which their two
youngest daughters, Catherine (Kitty) and Lydia, take in the officers
of the militia regiment stationed near their residence. The minds of
these two girls, we are told, were "more vacant than their sisters' ".
The two girls pay frequent visits to their aunt Mrs. Philips who is as
silly and vulgar as Mrs. Bennet and who encourages their passion
for the uniforms of the officers and for the officers themselves. After
listening to the chatter of these two girls one morning, Mr. Bennet
coolly tells them that, judging by their manner of talk, they must be
two of the silliest girls in the country. There is no doubt at all that
the girls are really very silly, but who is responsible for their
silliness? Largely their father, of course. What is noteworthy here is
that he makes his depreciatory remark "coolly". In other words, he
observes the girls' silliness but does not feel perturbed or upset by it
and he does not realize at all that something may have been
wanting in the manner in which he has brought them up. If these
two daughters of his are behaving in an indecorous and foolish way,
the fault is partly his own and his wife's. He has done nothing to
check them in the beginning, and he does nothing now. Mrs. Bennet
is even more at fault here. Instead of joining her husband in scolding
the girls, she defends them, and she defends them in a manner
which shows that she is not only tolerant of their silliness but shares

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their silly tastes. First, she says that she would not wish to speak
slightingly of her own children and then she goes on to say that she
herself in her younger days liked an officer's uniform very much and
that she likes it still.
Mr. Bennet's Indifference and Mrs. Bennet's Stupidity
During Elizabeth's stay at Hunsford, she is on one occasion
interrogated by Lady Catherine de Bourgh and asked if, without a
governess in the family, she and her sisters were not neglected so
far as their education and upbringing were concerned. Elizabeth
replies that she and her sisters had always been encouraged to read
but that some of them still spent their time in idleness. Evidently the
girls were encouraged to read by Mr. Bennet, and evidently Mr.
Bennet's indifference and Mrs. Bennet's stupidity were responsible
for the idleness of the two who wished to remain idle, namely, Kitty
and Lydia. Character and intelligence are seen by Jane Austen as of
enormous importance; but these qualities require to be
supplemented by education and inculcation of sound principles.
Elizabeth and Jane have become sensible, well-behaved, and wise
by their own efforts and in spite of their parents' indifference. Mary
has become studious to compensate herself for her lack of good
looks, but her knowledge and "learning" are accompanied by an
absolute want of common sense and sincerely held values. Lydia
and Kitty, lacking in character and intelligence, have been
encouraged in folly by the indifference of their father and the
indulgence of their mother.
Mr. Bennet's Evasion of Responsibility
So the embarrassments suffered by Elizabeth and Jane are directly
attributable to the inadequacy of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet as parents.
The ultimate effect of their inadequacy is seen in the behaviour of
Lydia. Lydia and her mother feel delighted and thrilled by Mrs.
Forster's invitation to Lydia to accompany her to Brighton, and Mr.
Bennet remains indifferent. It is only Elizabeth who realizes the
pitfalls and dangers to which Lydia would be exposed if she goes to
Brighton, but Mr. Bennet pays no heed to Elizabeth's apprehensions
in this respect. Elizabeth warns her father that Lydia would be totally
spoilt if he does not check her exuberant spirits and if he does not
teach her that her present pursuits should not be allowed to become
the whole business of her life. Mr. Bennet simply replies that both
Lydia and Kitty are silly girls but that neither Jane nor Elizabeth will
lose anything by the silliness of those two girls, adding that there
will be no peace in the house if he stops Lydia from going to
Brighton. Thus Mr. Bennet wants peace in the house even if to
secure peace he has to abdicate his authority as a father. He is too
indolent to assert himself in the house, and he has to pay heavily
afterwards for this indolence and this abdication of authority and
evasion of responsibility.
The Failure of Mr. Darcy's Parents
This theme of the effect of upbringing is not confined to the Bennet
family. It occurs also in Mr. Darcy's account of himself just after

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Elizabeth has accepted his proposal of marriage. Mr. Darcy
complains that as a child he had been taught what was right but
that he had not been taught to correct his temper. He says that he
had been spoilt by his parents who had encouraged him to be selfish
and overbearing, and to care only for his own family circle,
disregarding everybody else in the world. In other words, Mr. Darcy
attributes his pride and egoism to his parents' failure to understand
the right values of life. Of that pride he is cured by Elizabeth. Here,
then, is a case in which even aristocratic parents failed in their duty.
The Case of Mr. Collins
The theme of the effect of upbringing occurs also in the author's
description of Mr. Collins. Here we are told that Mr. Collins was by
nature deficient in intelligence and that this deficiency had not been
assisted by education or society because the largest part of his life
had been spent under the guidance of an illiterate and miserly
father. Here Jane Austen tells us precisely what makes or mars a
human being. Natural endowments (character and intelligence) are
important, of course; indeed they are fundamental. Next to them is
the way a human being is brought up by his parents. Nor can we
ignore the company a man keeps, because the sort of company a
man keeps also has its share in educating him and moulding his
mind.

Do you agree with the view that the structure of


Pride and Prejudice is nearly perfect? Give reasons
for your answer.
A Close-Knit Structure: a Common
theme in all the Stories
Structurally, the novel Pride and Prejudice shows the highest degree
of craftsmanship. The novel has a compact, close-knit, and tight
structure, inspite of there being several stories in it. There is the
main plot, and as many as three subplots in it. The main plot deals
with Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy.
Elizabeth is undoubtedly the most impressive female character, and
therefore, the heroine of the novel; while Mr. Darcy is surely the
most impressive male character, and therefore, the novel's hero.
The major sub-plot deals with Jane Bennet and Mr. Bingley. Then
there are two other sub-plots, one dealing with Mr. Collins and
Charlotte Lucas, and the other dealing with Lydia Bennet and Mr.
Wickham. The novel has a compact structure largely because of its
thematic unity. All the stories have a common theme, which is love
and marriage. The novel presents the variety of forms in which love
manifests itself, and the variety of ways in which men and women
come together and get married. The common theme of all the
stories unifies them all, so that a single structural pattern is
produced.
Diversity in Unity

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In spite of the common theme, there is neither repetition nor
monotony in the novel. There is a diversity in the unity. Elizabeth
and Mr. Darcy begin with a mutual dislike but, in course of time, this
dislike changes into a mutual attraction which then leads, through
several stages of development, to their union in marriage. Jane
Bennet and Mr. Bingley fall in love with each other in the very
beginning, and there seems to be an immediate prospect of their
getting married. However, their love-affair receives a setback on
account of the manipulations by Mr. Darcy and Miss Bingley.
Ultimately these two also come together, and get married. The case
of Mr. Collins and Charlotte Lucas is entirely different. Here we have
a marriage of convenience. There is no love on either side. Mr.
Collins simply wants to get married, and do does Charlotte. The
Lydia-Wickham affair is different from all the above cases. Lydia falls
in love with Mr. Wickham, but there is no sincerity in the love which
he has been professing for her. Mr. Wickham is a seducer who
would have forsaken Lydia after taking undue advantage of her.
Lydia, in eloping with Mr. Wickham, feels no doubt at all that he
would marry her. However, this marriage is brought about only by
the intervention of Mr. Darcy. The diversity of love-affairs and
marriages thus becomes evident to us as we go through the novel.
The Interweaving to the Sub-Plots with the Main Plot
The different stories in the novel are not just inter-linked by a
common theme. The stories are interwoven. Each sub-plot is
brought into a close relationship with the main plot. The ElizabethDarcy affair and the Jane-Bingley affair begin almost simultaneously,
the first with a mutual dislike, and the second with a mutual
attraction. Now, Elizabeth and Jane are sisters, while Mr. Darcy and
Mr. Bingley are close friends. Mr. Darcy is at first not at all attracted
by Elizabeth's physical appearance, though soon afterwards he
begins to perceive a certain charm in her face and in her figure.
Elizabeth, having overheard Mr. Darcy criticizing her physical
appearance, begins to dislike him. Mr. Darcy is a very proud man
who is, in fact, disliked by everybody with whom he comes into
contact. Mr. Darcy begins to feel more and more attracted by
Elizabeth but she becomes more and more prejudiced against him.
Elizabeth's prejudice against Mr. Darcy deepens into a hatred for
him on account of the account which Mr. Wickham gives to her of
Mr. Darcy's past ill-treatment of him. Mr. Bingley and Jane would
have got married by now if Mr. Darcy had not obstructed his friend's
wish and if he had not been assisted in this endeavour by Miss
Bingley. On account of the obstruction caused by Mr. Darcy and Miss
Bingley, the Jane-Bingley sub-plot comes to a stand-still for a time,
but the Elizabeth-Darcy plot continues to develop. Mr. Darcy
proposes marriage to Elizabeth whose prejudices against him
prevent her from accepting the proposal. Mr. Darcy's obstruction in
the way of the marriage of Mr. Bingley and Jane becomes one of the
several grounds for Elizabeth's rejection of Mr. Darcy's proposal.
However, when Elizabeth learns all the true facts, her prejudice

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against Mr. Darcy begin to crumble, and she then feels drawn closer
and closer towards Mr. Darcy. After Mr. Darcy's quiet withdrawal from
the Jane-Bingley affair, the way becomes clear for that pair of lovers
to get married. Eventually, Mr. Darcy's pride having been humbled,
and Elizabeth's prejudices having melted away, they too get
married. As for the Collins-Charlotte affair, Charlotte promptly
accepts Mr. Collins's proposal of marriage which Mr. Collins makes
after having been rejected twice by Elizabeth. This marriage
provides the reason for Elizabeth to visit Hunsford where she meets
Mr. Darcy after having separated from him at Netherfield Park. It is
at Hunsford that Mr. Darcy gets an opportunity to make his proposal
of marriage to Elizabeth who, however, rejects it, giving him
detailed reasons for her rejection. This, then, is the connection of
the Collins-Charlotte marriage with the main plot. As for the LydiaWickham affair, Mr. Wickham is first the means of unknowingly
aggravating Elizabeth's prejudice against Mr. Darcy, and then the
means of unknowingly bringing Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth once step
closer to each other. Mr. Wickham is not aware of the fact that
Elizabeth already has a prejudice against Mr. Darcy; nor is he aware
that Mr. Darcy's efforts to induce him to marry Lydia are being
motivated by Mr. Darcy's desire to do a favour and a service to the
Bennet family. But Mr. Wickham certainly plays a vital role by first
widening the rift between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, and later by
providing Mr. Darcy with an opportunity to render a valuable service
to the Bennet family. This is how the various sub-plots in the novel
are interrelated, inter-connected, and inter-woven, with the main
plot.
Mr. Wickham and Mr. Collins, Not Entirely Aliens
It is noteworthy that Mr. Wickham is not entirely new to the social
circle at Meryton or Netherfield Park. He had known Mr. Darcy
intimately long ago. In fact, they had known each other from their
boyhood and had been brought up in the same environment.
Similarly, Mr. Collins is not an alienat Longbourn. He is the relative to
whom Mr. Bennet's entire estate had been entailed; and he is the
man who will inherit all this estate at Mr. Bennet's death. Mr.
Collins's arrival at Longbourn has thus a strong basis because Mr.
Collins wishes to make a mends to the Bennet family for ultimately
depriving them of their property. He wishes to make amends to
them by choosing one of the daughters of the family as his would-be
wife, so that one of the daughters may ultimately become the
mistress of her father's estate.
The Roles of the Minor Characters
All the characters mentioned so far are essential to the novel. Each
of these characters is indispensable from the point of view of either
the main plot or one of the sub-plots. But none of the other
characters too is unnecessary or unwanted. Each of the minor
characters has a certain role in the drama of events. Mr. Denny, a
very minor character, plays an important role by the information
which he supplies about Mr. Wickham's motives and deeds, though

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he does so by oblique hints and in an evasive manner. Colonel
Fitzwilliam provides, though unknowingly, an important clue to
Elizabeth regarding Mr. Bingley's having given up his intention to
marry Jane. Mrs. Reynolds, the housekeeper at Pemberley House,
furnishes such information to Elizabeth about Mr. Darcy that Mr.
Darcy further rises in Elizabeth's estimation. Lady Catherine
unknowingly plays a vital role in bringing Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth
closer still to each other.
No Digressions; and No Superfluous
Incident or Character
There are no digressions in the novel, and no deviations from the
main plot or the sub-plots in the novel. We are either reading the
development in the Darcy-Elizabeth plot, or watching the lack of
progress in the Bingley-Jane sub-plot or observing the appearance of
Mr. Collins and of Mr. Wickham on the social scene and seeing them
pursue their respective plans. We are either being taken into the
working of the mind of Elizabeth, or being acquainted with the
distress which Jane is experiencing on account of the setback to her
hope of marrying Mr. Bingley. We are either being shown the way of
life of Mr. Collins and Charlotte at Hunsford, and their relations with
Lady Catherine, or we are being told of Lydia's going to Brighton
with Mrs. Forster and then suddenly eloping one day with Mr.
Wickham who too is there. When we are taken to Hunsford, we are
also shown the magnificence of Lady Catherine's mansion and the
manner in which Lady Catherine and her daughter Miss de Bourgh
are leading their lives. There is a comic touch about the scenes in
which Lady Catherine and her daughter appear. Besides, Lady
Catherine contributes to the theme of pride in this novel. The
portrayal of Lady Catherine contributes also to the picture of the
social scene which is an important ingredient of the novel. The
scene in which we meet Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner or Mr. and Mrs.
Bennet are equally relevant to the stories of the novel. Mr. and Mrs.
Gardiner play a vital role by taking Elizabeth to Derbyshire and to
Pemberley House where Elizabeth again meets Mr. Darcy whose
changed manner raises him in her estimation. Besides, Mr. Gardiner
plays a very useful role by joining Mr. Bennet in the latter's search
for Lydia who has run away with Mr. Wickham. Mr. Gardiner also acts
as a cover for Mr. Darcy who does not want the Bennet family to
know that it is he who, by bribing Mr. Wickham and putting pressure
on him, has persuaded him to marry Lydia. But for Mr. Darcy's
intervention, Mr. Wickham would not have married Lydia, and Mr.
Darcy would not have further risen in Elizabeth's esteem. Thus there
is nothing superfluous in the whole novel just as none of the
characters is superfluous. The structure of the novel is wellintegrated; and the construction of the plot could not have been
more skillfully handled. In the words of a critic, everything is in its
proper place and in proper proportion; there is nothing too much,
nor anything too little; no excess, nor any deficiency.
The Symmetry of the Novel

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The symmetry of Pride and Prejudice has been commented upon by
several critics. A number of events occur in the novel at various
stages to balance each other. Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy arrive at
Netherfield Park in the very beginning of the novel; then they both
leave and remain absent for a certain period of time; and once
again they both arrive there. Their first arrival creates hope and
good cheer in most feminine hearts, but ends in gloom. Their
subsequent arrival comes amid gloom but leads to the fulfillment of
several hopes. Of the quartet of marriages in the novel, one takes
place soon after the beginning, and one takes place just before the
end. Similarly, in the beginning, Mr. Darcy intervenes in the JaneBingley affair only to bring about aseparation between the lovers
who were expected to get married soon; but the same Mr. Darcy
intervenes towards the end in the Lydia-Wickham affair, this time
bringing about a marriage which would not otherwise have taken
place.
Few Coincidences or Chance Happenings
The main plot and the sub-plots all proceed from the inter-action of
characters between one another. The events and happenings in the
novel directly result from the nature and disposition of the persons
concerned. There are few accidents and coincidences in the novel to
mar the logic of cause and effect. There is no bolt from the blue.
Whether it is a case of good fortune or a case of misfortune, it is the
result of the characters' own deeds or misdeeds. Coincidences there
certainly are, but they are few such as Mr. Darcy and Mr. Wickham
arriving in Hertfordshire at about the same time; Mr. Darcy visiting
his aunt Lady Catherine when Elizabeth is staying with Mr. and Mrs.
Collins; and Mr. Darcy returning to Pemberley House a day earlier
than his schedule and meeting Elizabeth. Similarly, Mr. and Mrs.
Gardiner's change of plan in visiting Derbyshire rather than the Lake
district is also a matter of chance, though this chance is of vital
importance because the visit to Derbyshire leads to Elizabeth's
meeting with Mr. Darcy and thus advancing her prospects of
marriage with him. But, by and large, the important events proceed
from the nature and behaviour of the characters themselves.
All-Pervasive Irony in the Novel
Pride and Prejudice is pervaded by irony which is one of the most
striking features of all Jane Austen's novels. The all-pervasive irony
has its own role in unifying the structure of Pride and Prejudice. To
take only two examples, the very man, Mr. Wickham, who
unknowingly aggravates Elizabeth's prejudice against Mr. Darcy,
ultimately proves instrumental, again unknowingly, in bringing them
one step closer to each other; and Lady Catherine, who sets out to
obstruct the marriage of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, unknowingly
brings them still closer to each other and, in fact, clinches the issue.
Apart from such ironic reversals, there are several ironical remarks
made by certain characters, more especially by Mr. Bennet and
Elizabeth. For instance, Mr. Bennet makes an ironical remark when
he says that Mr. Wickham is the best of his sons-in-law. Similarly,

12
Elizabeth makes an ironical remark when she says that Mr. Darcy
has no defects at all.

What estimate have you formed of the character


and role of Mr. George Wickham in the novel Pride
and Prejudice!
A Charming Young Officer
Mr. Wickham is described in the novel as a very charming young
man with a fine countenance, a good figure, and a very pleasant
manner of talking. He is an officer in a militia regiment which is
stationed near the town of Meryton; and he happens to meet the
Bennet sisters when they, accompanied by Mr. Collins, are walking
to that town.
Mr. Wickham is at this time in the company of a fellow-officer by the
name of Mr. Denny. It so happens that Mr. Darcy and Mr. Wickham
see each other at this time, and both change colour. Mr. Darcy looks
red with anger, while Mr. Wickham looks white with fear when they
exchange a brief and formal greeting. There seems to be some kind
of mystery about this reaction of Mr. Darcy and Mr. Wickham to each
other. In any case, the Bennet sisters feel greatly attracted by Mr.
Wickham.
The Centre of Interest for Ladies
On the following day, the Bennet sisters meet Mr. Wickham at the
house of their uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. Philips. The eyes of all
the girls now turn to Mr. Wickham because all of them find him to be
an extraordinarily good-looking, dignified, and amiable young man.
When they all sit down, Elizabeth finds herself next to Mr. Wickham,
who then enters into a conversation with her.
His Grievances against Mr. Darcy
In the course of this conversation between Elizabeth and Mr.
Wickham, Elizabeth says that she thinks Mr. Darcy to be a most
disagreeable kind of man who is not liked by anybody in
Hertfordshire. Mr. Wickham thereupon says that Mr. Darcy's father
was an excellent man but that Mr. Darcy is an odious one. He further
says that he has suffered a good deal at Mr. Darcy's hands. He goes
on to say that he had wanted to become a clergyman, and that Mr.
Darcy's late father had left instructions that a family living should be
bestowed upon him (Mr. Wickham) as soon as one fell vacant. Mr.
Wickham complains that Mr. Darcy had not carried out the wishes of
his late father. In fact, Mr. Wickham talks as if he has been the
victim of a great injustice on the part of Mr. Darcy. Elizabeth is
shocked to learn that Mr. Wickham had been treated by Mr. Darcy in
a most obnoxious and disgraceful manner. Mr. Wickham explains
that all Mr. Darcy's evil actions can be traced to his pride. In fact, Mr.
Wickham talks so bitterly against Mr. Darcy that Elizabeth, who had
already been feeling a great dislike of that man, now begins to hate
him. On hearing Mr. Wickham's account of Mr. Darcy's misdeeds,
especially his depriving Mr. Wickham of a well-paid job as a

13
clergyman, Elizabeth exclaims: "How strange! How abominable!"
Elizabeth now begins to think that Mr. Darcy is not only a proud man
but also a dishonest one. Now, this is an important development in
the plot. Mr. Wickham deepens Elizabeth's dislike of Mr. Darcy,
though very soon we shall find that Mr. Wickham is the real culprit
and that, in talking against Mr. Darcy, he is telling lies and nothing
but lies.
His Absence from Mr. Bingley's Ball
At the ball which is held by Mr. Bingley at his residence, Mr.
Wickham, who was expected to attend the ball, is conspicuous by
his absence. Mr. Denny tells Elizabeth's sister Lydia that Mr.
Wickham is absent from the ball because he wanted to avoid a
certain gentleman who is present here. Elizabeth, on coming to
know the reason for Mr. Wickham's absence, makes up her mind to
keep aloof from Mr. Darcy on whose account Mr. Wickham has
absented himself from this important occasion. At the end of the
dance, Miss Bingley tells Elizabeth that Mr. Wickham's talk to her
about Mr. Darcy had been a tissue of lies. Elizabeth is, however, not
very convinced by Miss Bingley's plea. Elizabeth does not believe
that such a fine-looking and well-behaved man as Mr. Wickham can
be a liar.
Elizabeth, Inwardly Inclined to Marry Him
The members of the Bennet family now become quite intimate with
Mr. Wickham and keep meeting him because they find his company
to be very pleasant. In fact, Mr. Wickham's presence serves to dispel
the gloom which the various members of the Bennet family are
experiencing at this time on account of the disappointment of their
hope of Mr. Bingley's marrying Jane. Elizabeth feels attracted
towards Mr. Wickham more than the others; and she now feels
certain that Mr. Wickham's grievances and complaints against Mr.
Darcy are well-founded and genuine. Elizabeth begins to like Mr.
Wickham so much that she even decides to agree to marry him in
case he makes a proposal of marriage to her. However, Elizabeth's
aunt, Mr. Gardiner, cautions Elizabeth against any haste in deciding
to many Mr. Wickham. Mrs. Gardiner's chief reason for giving this
advice to Elizabeth is that neither Elizabeth nor Mr. Wickham has
any fortune, and that in the absence of sufficient money, their
married life would prove unhappy. But even Mrs. Gardiner does not
know the true reality of Mr. Wickham. As days pass, Mr. Wickham,
whom Elizabeth has been meeting frequently, seems to be losing all
interest in her. Elizabeth had been thinking that Mr. Wickham would
definitely propose marriage to her. But now she finds that he has
changed his mind. She then learns that Mr. Wickham is thinking of
proposing marriage to a girl by the name of Miss King who has a
fortune of ten thousand pounds.
The Truth about Mr. Wickham's Past Life
Subsequently, from the letter which Mr. Darcy has written to
Elizabeth to defend himself against the charges which had been
levelled against him by Elizabeth, she learns that Mr. Wickham is a

14
rascal who had been leading a dissolute life, who had by his way of
life proved himself unfit for the office of a clergyman, and who had
squandered an amount of three thousand pounds which Mr. Darcy
had given him in lieu of a living. Elizabeth is stunned to learn these
facts about Mr. Wickham. But the blackest deed of Mr. Wickham was
his attempt to elope with the young, innocent, and inexperienced
sister of Mr. Darcy. Fortunately Mr. Wickham's attempt had failed;
but he had, by this attempt, shown what a scoundrel he was.
Lydia's Elopement with him, and his Mercenary Motives
After some time, Elizabeth learns from Lydia that Mr. Wickham has
given up his thought of marrying Miss King also. This and the other
facts show Mr. Wickham to be an utterly unreliable kind of man.
When Elizabeth tells Jane the true facts about Mr. Wickham, Jane too
feels shocked and says: "Wickham so very bad! It is almost past
belief." Mr. Wickham provides further evidence of his being a rascal
and a villain by eloping with Lydia. The news of Lydia's elopement
with Mr. Wickham comes as a great shock to the whole Bennet
family, and especially to Elizabeth. It is true that much of the blame
for this elopement rests upon Lydia herself; but Mr. Wickham cannot
be exonerated. According to the information supplied by Mr.
Wickham's friend Mr. Denny, Mr. Wickham had no intention to marry
Lydia. Thus, Mr. Wickham's real purpose in running away Lydia had
been only to seduce her and to satisfy his lust for her. If Mr.
Wickham does marry Lydia ultimately, it is because of the role
played by Mr. Darcy in the whole affair. Mr. Wickham states certain
terms and conditions on which he is prepared to marry Lydia; and
Mr. Darcy goes out of his way to fulfil those terms and conditions. Of
course, Mr. Bennet too has to satisfy certain conditions laid down by
Mr. Wickham, but the major role in bringing about the marriage is
that of Mr. Darcy. Mr. Wickham also reveals at this time that he had
incurred certain debts which are also now paid by Mr. Darcy. Thus,
Mr. Wickham shows himself to be a mercenary man, besides being
unscrupulous in his relations with girls.
A Shameless Man
After getting married in London, Mr. Wickham and Lydia pay a visit
to Longbourn. The behaviour of neither Mr. Wickham nor Lydia
shows any sense of shame. In fact, both behave as if nothing
extraordinary had taken place. Mr. Wickham is a hardened and
seasoned man to whom all shame has become something alien. He
speaks to the members of the Bennet family without feeling
embarrassed in the least; and he even speaks to Elizabeth as if he
had done no wrong at all. In the last chapter of the novel we learn
that Mr. Wickham soon afterwards becomes indifferent to Lydia, and
that Lydia's love for him also does not last for a long time.
His Role in the Novel: the Villain of the Piece
Mr. Wickham is the villain of the piece. There are deficiencies,
shortcomings, and faults in all the characters in the novel; but Mr.
Wickham is a rogue, and a rogue whom we cannot pardon.
Outwardly he is a most amiable young man whose company is a

15
source of pleasure to everybody and whose talk is most delightful.
Upon girls, his personality and his behaviour exercise a special
fascination; but even the men find him outwardly to be a most
likable person. But the reality about him is entirely different. He is a
most heartless, callous, and unscrupulous man. He is completely
devoid of all sense of gratitude. Instead of acknowledging the
favours which Mr. Darcy had done to him, he submits to Elizabeth a
regular charge-sheet against that man. Nothing could have been
more wicked than Wickham's speaking ill of Mr. Darcy to Elizabeth,
and speaking in the bitterest possible tones. His conduct in having
tried to lure Mr. Darcy's sister was perhaps his most disgraceful
deed. But even after that misdeed had been exposed, he did not
feel any remorse or repentance. Thus, Mr. Wickham adds to the
variety of characterization in the novel. He illustrates the famous
dictum: "Appearances are deceptive". He serves to add to Jane
Austen's picture of English social life. He presents a striking contrast
to Mr. Bingley who is a thorough gentleman; and he presents a
striking contrast to Mr. Darcy who is, despite his pride and
haughtiness, a man who commands our respect. In the list of the
male characters in this novel, Mr. Wickham stands at the very
bottom of the moral scale. He is a born fortune-hunter who has no
notions of gentlemanly behaviour, and who is lost to all shame. His
conduct after his attempted elopement with Mr. Darcy's sister, and
his actual elopement with Lydia, show him as a brazen fellow.
A Variation on the theme of Love and Marriage
Mr. Wickham has another role to play in the novel also. The major
theme of this novel is love and marriage. Now, love and marriage
take various forms with various human beings. In this novel, we
have the love and marriage of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth; we have the
love and marriage of Mr. Bingley and Jane; and we witness also the
marriage, though not the love, of Mr. Collins and Charlotte. To these
may be added the love and marriage of Mr. Wickham and Lydia. Mr.
Wickham is surely not in love with Lydia. His eloping with a girl who
has neither much beauty nor much brains, and who is without a
dowry to lend her any attraction, shows that it is pure lust on his
part. There is no love on Lydia's side also; it is just infatuation. She
runs away with Mr. Wickham because she fancies herself in love and
because she enjoys a romantic thrill in running away with a man
whose reality she does not know on account of her inexperience.
A Didactic Purpose behind the Lydia-Wickham Affair
Indeed, the Wickham-Lydia affair serves also a didactic purpose.
This affair is an example and a warning to those girls, who, having
no experience of life and not much respect for their elders, think
themselves to be wise enough to look after themselves, but who
meet a sad end.

Write a brief character-sketch of Mr. William Collins,


and indicate the importance of his role in the novel .

16
An Unforgettable Comic Character
Mr. William Collins is a memorable character. If the heroine of this
novel is unforgettable, so is Mr. Collins, the clergyman. If Elizabeth is
an adorable woman because of her excellent qualities, Mr. Collins is
unforgettable because of his absurdities. Indeed, Mr. Collins
deserves an honourable place in the gallery of comic characters
created by English novelists.
An Oddity, According to Elizabeth
Before Mr. Collins himself appears on the scene in the novel, a letter
is received from him by Mr. Bennet. This letter throws considerable
light on the character of its writer. In the letter Mr. Collins has
expressed his regret over the differences which had existed
between his late father and Mr. Bennet; and he further writes that
he would like to heal the breach which now exists between himself
and the Bennet family. He also says that he would like to make
amends to the Bennet family for any injustice that might have been
done to it by his late father. And a fact, which he takes pains to
emphasize in the letter, is that the Right Honourable Lady Catherine
de Bourgh has appointed him the rector of the parish in which he
lives. Different members of the Bennet family react differently to Mr.
Collins's letter. The comment of Elizabeth is nearest the truth.
Elizabeth thinks that Mr. Collins seems to be an "oddity" and not a
sensible man, and further that there is something very pompous in
Mr. Collins's style of writing.
His Compliments to the Bennet Family
Then Mr. Collins arrives personally at Longbourn on a visit to the
Bennet family. He is a tall, heavy-looking young man of five and
twenty. His air is grave and stately; and his manners are very
formal. His talk abounds in compliments to the whole Bennet family.
He first admires the daughters of the family, and afterwards the
house and the furniture. After dinner, he praises the family for the
sumptuous and delicious dinner which they have served to him.
A Sycophant
After dinner, Mr. Collins informs the Bennet family that he is
extremely lucky to have won the favour of Lady Catherine de
Bourgh. He grows eloquent in praise of that lady. He says that she is
so kind to him that she frequently invites him to dinner at her
residence. He also describes Lady Catherine's daughter as a most
charming young lady. Indeed, his manner of talking about Lady
Catherine and her daughter is such as to show clearly that he is a
born flatterer or sycophant. Furthermore, he shows himself to be a
very self-satisfied and self-complacent kind of man. Mr. Bennet
regards Mr. Collins as an absurd fellow.
His Proposal of Marriage, Rejected by Elizabeth
Mr. Collins now reveals the true purpose of his visit to Longbourn. He
says that he is thinking of getting married. Lady Catherine had
advised him to get married as soon as possible; as a clergyman he
must set an example of marriage to his parish; and marriage, he

17
thinks, would add to his happiness. He wants to choose a wife for
himself from amongst the daughters of the Bennet family. This is
what he had meant by writing in his letter that he wanted to make
amends to the Bennet family in advance for depriving them of their
estate and property by inheriting this property at the death of Mr.
Bennet. Mr. Collins, now finds all the Bennet sisters to be handsome
and amiable; but his choice falls upon the eldest, namely Jane.
However, as soon as he learns from Mrs. Bennet that Jane is already
expecting to be married another man, Mr. Collins promptly transfers
his choice to Elizabeth. Soon afterwards, he proposes marriage to
Elizabeth who, however, rejects the proposal, though in a most
polite and courteous manner. Mr. Collins's enthusiasm is, however,
not damped by this rejection. He says that Elizabeth would surely
accept his proposal when he repeats it. However Elizabeth tells him
firmly that she cannot accept his proposal under any circumstances.
The persistence with which he puts forward his case to Elizabeth is
comic. Afterwards Elizabeth describes Mr. Collins to Jane as "a
conceited, pompous, narrow-minded, silly man".
Married to Charlotte Lucas
Mr. Collins does not show any signs of depression or dejection after
having thus been deprived of the hope of marrying either Jane or
Elizabeth. By now he has met Miss Charlotte Lucas also; and he now
decides to propose marriage to her. Charlotte is so situated that she
cannot refuse this offer from a man by marrying whom she can lead
a comfortable and prosperous life. And so Mr. Collins gets married to
Charlotte.
His Flexibility, Most Absurd and Amusing
The whole account of Mr. Collins's proposals of marriage, and his
actual marriage, is a very amusing one. Indeed, this account
constitutes one of the most interesting portions of the novel. Mr.
Collins's flexibility so far as his choice of girls is concerned is most
absurd and most comic. If not Jane, then Elizabeth would do; and, if
Elizabeth cannot marry him, he proposes marriage to Charlotte
without feeling ruffled in the least. Here, again, we note his
complacency, which is one of his chief traits, and which contributes
to the comic effect that he produces upon us. It is indeed lucky that
Charlotte finds herself quite comfortable and happy as Mr. Collins's
wife, because in Elizabeth's opinion no decent girl could be happy as
the wife of this man whom Elizabeth holds in contempt. In fact,
Elizabeth feels shocked on learning that Charlotte had agreed to
marry Mr. Collins; and Elizabeth is, therefore, very surprised indeed
when, on visiting Hunsford for a brief stay with Charlotte, she finds
Charlotte to be quite satisfied with her life as Mr. Collins's wife.
His Tendency to Offer his Thanks to Everybody
Another comic trait of Mr. Collins is his tendency to offer profuse
thanks for whatever courtesy he receives from anybody. After his
first visit to Longbourn, he writes a letter of pro fuse thanks to the
Bennet family for their hospitable treatment of him. When Elizabeth
is about to leave Hunsford after having stayed with Mr. and Mrs.

18
Collins for some time, Mr. Collins offers his profuse thanks to her for
her visit. He is also always at pains to pay compliments to the
people with whom he comes into contact.
His Reaction to Lydia's Elopement
On learning of Lydia's elopement with Mr. Wickham, Mr. Collins
writes a letter to Mr. Bennet, expressing his grief at the disgrace
which Lydia has brought to the Bennet family. "The death of your
daughter would have been a blessing in comparison of this," Mr.
Collins writes to Mr. Bennet with regard to Lydia's conduct. Mr.
Collins has further written that this false step taken by one of the
Bennet sisters would greatly damage the prospects of all the others.
Here, of course, we cannot find fault with Mr. Collins. His reaction to
Lydia's elopement is what any sensible man's reaction would be.
His Strange Notion of Christian Forgiveness
Mr. Collins writes another letter to Mr. Bennet on hearing that Lydia
and Mr. Wickham had, after getting married, been received by the
Bennet family quite warmly. Mr. Collins expresses his strong
disapproval of this hospitality. He writes that, by having allowed
Lydia and her husband to come and stay in his house, Mr. Bennet
had provided "an encouragement to vice". Mr. Collins urges Mr.
Bennet to forgive Lydia and Mr. Wickham for their misconduct in
having runaway, and at the same time strongly advises Mr. Bennet
never to receive them as part of his family. On receiving his letter,
Mr. Bennet rightly points out to Elizabeth that Mr. Collins has strange
ideas of Christian forgiveness. Here is a clergyman urging
forgiveness and vindictiveness at the same time. This selfcontradictory attitude on the part of Mr. Collins further adds to the
comic effect of his portrayal.
The Importance of his Role in the Novel
Mr. Collins's role in the novel is three-fold. First, his plan to marry
one of the Bennet girls, his proposal of marriage to Elizabeth and
Elizabeth's rejection of it, and his subsequent marriage with Miss
Charlotte Lucas constitute a sub-plot in the novel. After Charlotte
has settled at Hunsford as Mr. Collins's wife, Elizabeth pays her a
visit, and during this visit she happens to meet Mr. Darcy. It is during
this visit by her that Mr. Darcy makes his proposal of marriage to
Elizabeth who rejects him. Thus Mr. Collins is the means by which
this meeting comes about. Secondly, it is Mr. Collins who introduces
Lady Catherine de Bourgh to the Bennet family through his letter
and his talk before Lady Catherine makes an actual appearance in
the novel. Thirdly, Mr. Collins makes a substantial contribution to
comedy of the novel. He possesses a number of traits which make
him a comic character.
The Comic Traits of Mr. Collins's Character
Mr. Collins is wholly a comic character, even though he is a
clergyman who, by virtue of his profession, is entitled to
everybody's respect. There are various reasons to make him a comic
figure in the novel. First of all, there is his sycophancy. Every one
has a right to praise the good qualities of any man or of any woman.

19
But we do not expect anyone either to give praise to an undeserving
person or to over-praise a deserving person. Mr. Collins lavishes so
much praise upon Lady Catherine and her daughter that the
listeners feel amused whereas he speaks gravely, not realizing the
extreme to which he is going. He is an accomplished flatterer. He
keeps harping upon the excellent qualities of Lady Catherine and
her daughter whether they are present or absent, while we know
that Lady Catherine and her daughter do not deserve any praise at
all. Secondly, there is Mr. Collins's flexibility with regard to his choice
of a life-partner. He first proposes marriage to Elizabeth, giving three
reasons why he wishes to get married at all. He says that as
clergyman he should set an example of marriage to the people of
his parish. Then he says that Lady Catherine wants him to get
married as soon as possible. And, thirdly, he says that marriage
would greatly add to his own happiness. After this comic preface to
his proposal, he makes the proposal in such a way as to indicate his
full confidence that Elizabeth would jump at his offer to marry her.
Of course, he is surprised when Elizabeth rejects his proposal. But
then he persists in his proposal on the plea that every girl declines a
proposal when it is first made, and that Elizabeth would certainly
say "yes" to his proposal when he repeats it or when he makes the
proposal for the third time. Mr. Collins's self-complacency is another
comic trait. This man is blissfully unaware of his own absurdities. He
does not know that he is a flatterer by nature, and that his excessive
flattery of Lady Catherine makes other people laugh and jeer at him.
Not only does he flatter Lady Catherine excessively, but he has a
highly exaggerated view of his own merits both as a man and as a
professional clergyman. Elizabeth is right when she describes him as
a pompous and conceited man. Finally, the contradiction in his
character also makes him a comic figure. The letter which he writes
to Mr. Bennet about Lydia's marriage with Mr. Wickham, and about
the visit of Mr. and Mrs. Wickham to Longbourn, is very amusing
indeed. In this letter Mr. Collins on one hand urges Mr. Bennet to
forgive Lydia and, on the other hand, urges Mr. Bennet never to
allow Lydia to enter his house after having disgraced her family. As
Mr. Bennet says, Mr. Collins has really a strange idea of Christian
forgiveness.
Saturday, November 6, 2010

Bring out the contrast between the characters of


Elizabeth and Jane.
Contrast in Respect of Physical Appearance
Elizabeth and Jane are more deeply attached to each other than
most sisters are; and yet they offer a sharp contrast so far as their
temperaments and inclinations are concerned. To begin with, they
offer a contrast so far as physical appearance is concerned.
Jane is a very pretty girl; she is not only the prettiest of the five
daughters of the Bennet family but prettier than most of the girls
living in the neighbourhood of Longbourn. Elizabeth has her own

20
charm, but she is much less attractive physically than Jane. When
Mr. Bingley is dancing with Jane, he interrupts his dancing to tell Mr.
Darcy that his partner (namely Jane) is the handsomest girl at the
gathering, whereupon Mr. Darcy tells him that the other girl (namely
Elizabeth) is not so handsome as to tempt him to ask her for a
dance. By ma king this disparaging remark about Elizabeth's looks,
Mr. Darcy offends her greatly because she overhears the remark.
Later, it is true, Mr. Darcy discovers certain charms in Elizabeth's
countenance, in her eyes, and in her figure; but his initial remark
about her does indicate the difference between the two sisters so
far as their physical attractions are concerned.
Simplicity Versus Complexity
Jane is a simple-minded girl while Elizabeth has a highly complex
nature. Jane's reactions to people and to situations are those of a
girl who does not try in the least to penetrate beneath the surface;
Elizabeth, on the contrary, has a reflective nature and an analytical
mind. Elizabeth's reflective nature is clearly indicated by the author
because there are several passages in the novel in which the state
of mind of Elizabeth is described to us. Elizabeth's reflective
tendency is clearly to be seen in her thoughts after she has rejected
Mr. Darcy's proposal of marriage, in her meditations over the letter
which Mr. Darcy hands over to her on the following day, in her
thoughts on receiving news of Lydia's elopement, and in her
thoughts on learning about Mr. Darcy's role in bringing about Lydia's
marriage with Mr. Wickham. Her analytical tendency is to be found
in her constantly speculating upon the reasons preventing Mr.
Bingley from making a proposal of marriage to Jane. This tendency
is also seen in her describing to Mrs. Gardiner the nature of F
Wickham and the character of Lydia, and inner pointing out to Mrs.
Gardiner how easy it would be for Mr. Wickham to take undue
advantage of Lydia. Jane has an entirely different disposition. She
accepts things as they happen and tries to reconcile herself to them.
Similarly, she does not make any effort to probe the minds of the
people with whom she comes into contact. She takes them on their
face value.
Self-Assertiveness and Dynamism Versus Passivity
Elizabeth is a very self-assertive girl; and she is quick to react to
what people say and how they behave. She takes Mr. Darcy's initial
disparaging remark about her to heart, and thereafter begins to
harbour a grievance and a prejudice against him Subsequently, Mr.
Darcy tries to humour and placate her, but she remains adamant;
and, in fact, becomes further prejudiced against him because of Mr.
Wickhams allegations against him. When Mr. Darcy proposes
marriage to her, she promptly rejects the proposal, and frankly
states her reasons for doing so. She does not mince matters here
but tells Mr. Darcy the grounds on which she has felt compelled to
reject him. Elizabeth is also a dynamic person who takes initiatives.
For instance, when Lydia gets ready to go to Brighton with Mrs.
Forster, Elizabeth urges her father to stop Lydia from taking this

21
step, and she tells her father of the perils to which Lydia would be
exposed during her stay in that city. It is another matter that her
father does not take any action to comply with Elizabeth's advice.
Jane, on the contrary, is entirely a passive girl who makes no
attempt at any time to give a new direction to events. At Rosings
Park, Elizabeth remains calm and composed in the face of the
various disparaging remarks which Lady Catherine makes about and
her family, and also in the face of the several insolent questions
which Lady Catherine asks her. Elizabeth retains her presence of
mind in the presence of that grand Lady, and is not unnerved. Jane
in Elizabeth's position could certainly not have faced the situation
with the same calmness.
Elizabeth's Fastidiousness Versus Jane's Sweetness and
Angelic Nature
Elizabeth is a rather fastidious girl who discriminates between one
man and another, and between one woman and another woman.
She quickly perceives the difference between Mr. Darcy and Mr.
Bingley. She quickly understands the character and nature of Mr.
Collins whose proposal of marriage she rejects without the least
hesitation. At one point Elizabeth tells Jane that she likes few people
and that she thinks well of even fewer people. She says that she is
fed up with the inconsistencies in human beings. Jane, on the
contrary, forms a good opinion about everybody till she is given
some evidence to the contrary. Jane is most undiscriminating in this
respect. Elizabeth, for instance, points out early in the novel that
Jane begins to like everybody she meets and that she likes even
stupid persons. Elizabeth further says that Jane has a tendency to
like people in general. She says to Jane: "You never see a fault in
anybody. All the world are good and agreeable in your eyes. I never
heard you speak ill of a human being in my life." Later in the novel,
Elizabeth says: "My dear Jane, you are too good. Your sweetness and
disinterestedness are really angelic." Still later in the novel,
Elizabeth refers to Jane as a person having the most affectionate
and generous heart in the world. According to Elizabeth, Jane is all
loveliness and goodness. Elizabeth thinks that Jane has captivating
manners. Now, Elizabeth can certainly not be described in these
glowing terms which Elizabeth uses about Jane, though Elizabeth is
lovable in her own way.
Elizabeth's Sarcastic Wit Versus Jane's Inoffensive Talk
Elizabeth has a sarcastic wit and she often makes use of it in the
course of conversation. She has a capacity to laugh at people's
absurdities, as she herself tells Mr. Darcy early in the story. Later we
are told that Elizabeth had laughed at Sir William's absurdities so
often that he had ceased to be a source of amusement to her.
Elizabeth can retaliate when Miss Bingley says something
unpleasant to her. Jane, on the contrary, can never mock at or
ridicule anybody. Nor can she laugh, even stealthily, at people's
absurdities. For instance, she has failed to notice the absurdities of
Mr. Collins. Jane is, in fact, perfectly inoffensive in her talk, and

22
would not like to injure anybody's feelings. Elizabeth describes Mr.
Collins as a conceited, pompous, narrow-minded, and silly man. And
Elizabeth further says that Charlotte has proved to be an irrational
girl by having agreed to marry Mr. Collins. Jane thereupon says that
Elizabeth has used too strong a language in speaking about Mr.
Collins and about Charlotte. Here we see clearly the difference
between Elizabeth's outlook and Jane's.
Different Attitudes towards Offending Persons
Jane is a silent sufferer during the period in which Mr. Bingley
remains alienated from her. Of course, she shows rare fortitude in
enduring her disappointment in love. And yet she does not blame
Mr. Bingley's sisters for their negative role in the whole affair.
Elizabeth tells her that Mr. Bingley's indifference to her is due chiefly
to the bad influence upon him of his two sisters, Miss Bingley and
Mrs. Hurst. But Jane does not accept this view. She is inclined to give
Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst the benefit of the doubt.
Elizabeth's Statement about the Contrast
Towards the end of the novel, Elizabeth herself highlights the
contrast between Jane and herself. Jane has expressed her wish that
Elizabeth should also get the kind of husband she (Jane) is going to
get, whereupon Elizabeth replies that she could never be happy
even if she were to get forty husbands of the kind Jane is going to
get because she does not have Jane's disposition. She states her
view thus: "Till I have your disposition and your goodness, I never
can have your happiness." However, soon afterwards Elizabeth also
gets a husband who is sure to make her as happy as Jane is going to
be with Mr. Bingley.
Saturday, November 6, 2010

Summarize the Bingley-Jane sub-plot in Pride and


Prejudice
Mutual Attraction between Mr. Bingley and Jane
Mr. Bingley and Miss Jane Bennet happen to meet each other at an
assembly which is held near the town of Meryton in Hartfordshire
after Mr. Bingley has settled down at Netherfield Park. Mr. Bingley
attends this assembly in the company of his friend Mr. Darcy and his
sisters, Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst.
Mi. Bingley is greatly struck by the beauty of Jane who is the
prettiest of all the girls who are attending the assembly. Mr. Bingley
tells his friend Mr. Darcy that Jane is the most beautiful creature he
has ever beheld. Mr. Bingley dances with Jane twice; and this fact is
observed with great interest by everybody present. Not only does
Jane herself feel much gratified by the honour which Mr. Bingley has
done to her by dancing twice with her, but Jane's mother, Mrs.
Bennet, also feels immensely pleased. On returning home, Mrs.
Bennet reports to her husband that she felt delighted to have met
Mr. Bingley, and that Mr. Bingley had thought Jane to be quite
beautiful and had therefore danced with her twice. At home, Jane
tells her sister Elizabeth that Mr. Bingley is just what a young man

23
should be. She says that Mr. Bingley is sensible, good-humoured,
and lively, and that she had never before seen such happy manners,
so much ease, and such perfect good breeding in any man. Thus the
attraction between Jane and Mr. Bingley is mutual.
Jane's Illness and her Week-Long Stay
at Netherfield Park
After a few days, Jane receives an invitation from Miss Bingley's
sisters to come to Netherfield Park and dine with them. The Bennet
family regards this invitation as a great honour. Jane duly goes to
Netherfield Parkand has to spend the night there because it has
been raining and because she cannot return home. In fact, Jane has
to stay on at Netherfield Park for about a week because she has
caught a cold and developed a fever, and is advised by the doctor to
take complete rest. During this period, when Elizabeth also joins her
at Netherfield Park, Jane is nursed by Mr. Bingley's sisters with great
care and affection. In this way the intimacy between Jane and Mr.
Bingley's two sisters develops into friendship. Mr. Bingley too now
becomes much more interested in Jane than he was before.
Mr. Bingley, Expected to Propose Marriage to Jane
The next stage in the development of the relationship between Jane
and Mr. Bingley is a ball which Mr. Bingley holds at Netherfield Park
and to which Jane, among others, has been invited. Everybody now
begins to think that Mr. Bingley would propose marriage to Jane and
that she would surely accept him. Mrs. Bennet begins to talk freely
about the prospect of Mr. Bingley marrying Jane. In fact, Mrs. Bennet
talks so copiously on this subject that Elizabeth feels rather upset by
her mother's indiscreet and undignified manner of talking on this
subject. However, there is little doubt even in Elizabeth's mind that
Mr. Bingley would soon propose marriage to Jane.
A Setback to Jane's Hope
Contrary to the expectations, the Bingley-Jane affair now receives a
setback. Mr. Bingley goes to London on some business, and he is
then followed by all the other inmates of Netherfield Park. Miss
Bingley writes a letter to Jane from London, informing her of the
sudden departure of the whole family, and informing her further that
the family would not return to Netherfield Park throughout the
coming winter. This letter from Miss Bingley comes as a big shock to
Jane who had been hoping that Mr. Bingley would soon propose
marriage to her. Elizabeth had been sharing this hope of Jane's, and
Mrs. Bennet had been feeling certain in this respect. Miss Bingley's
letter contains also a hint that Mr. Bingley might in due course
marry Mr. Darcy's sister, Georgiana. However, Elizabeth thinks that
it is Miss Bingley, supported by her sister Mrs. Hurst, who wants Mr.
Bingley to marry Mr. Darcy's sister, Georgiana. In other words,
Elizabeth is of the view that, left to himself, Mr. Bingley would
certainly propose marriage to Jane but that Mr. Bingley's two sisters
would do their utmost to press Mr. Bingley to propose marriage to
Mr. Darcy's sister. In any case, Jane no longer entertains any hope

24
that Mr. Bingley would marry her. She tries to adjust herself to the
changed situation.
The Suspense and Anxiety of the Bennet Family
Days pass without bringing any further news of Mr. Bingley to the
Bennet family. Now even Elizabeth begins to fear that Mr. Bingley's
sisters would prove successful in keeping Mr. Bingley away from
Netherfield Park. As for Jane, her anxiety, in this state of suspense,
is most painful to her. Mrs. Bennet feels most wretched at the turn
which events have taken. Jane tries her utmost to subdue her
feelings of disappointment and dismay. She assures Elizabeth that
she would get over this disappointment. She says that Mr. Bingley
would always remain in her memory as the most amiable man of her
acquaintance but that she would no longer entertain any hope of
getting married to him.
Jane in London; No Meeting with Mr. Bingley
Jane now goes to London to stay with her uncle and aunt, Mr. and
Mrs. Gardiner, who are living in Gracechurch Street. It is in London
that Mr. Bingley and his sisters are staying at this time. They live in
Grosvenor Street. Miss Bingley calls on Jane; and Jane in return calls
on Miss Bingley. But there is no meeting between Jane and Mr.
Bingley. Nor does Jane have any hope that she would be able to
meet Mr. Bingley. And yet Elizabeth hopes against hope that Miss
Bingley would not ultimately succeed in keeping her brother away
from Jane. In spite of the fact that Mr. Bingley is in London at this
time, no meeting between him and Jane takes place. In fact, as we
learn later in the novel, Mr. Bingley does not even know that Jane is
at this time staying in London with her uncle and aunt.
Jane's Despondency
When Elizabeth, on her way from Longbourn to Hunsford, stops with
Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner in London for a night, she learns from Mrs.
Gardiner that Jane has been struggling to keep herself cheerful but
that there have been periods of dejection for her. Of course, the
reason for Jane's fits of dejection is that she has not been able to
meet Mr. Bingley, and that even Miss Bingley has not shown much
enthusiasm for her. Later, when Elizabeth happens to meet Mr.
Darcy at Hunsford, she asks him if he had met Jane, who had been
staying in London for the last three months or so; and he replies, in
a confused way, that he had not been so fortunate as to meet Miss
Bennet (that is, Jane).
Mr. Bingley, Prevented By Mr. Darcy
from Marrying Jane
We now learn the true reason why Mr. Bingley had made no efforts
to meet Jane after leaving Netherfield Park. The reason was that his
friend Mr. Darcy had begun to feel that Jane would not suit Mr.
Bingley as his wife. Mr. Darcy had formed an impression that Jane
was not as much in love with Mr. Bingley as Mr. Bingley was in love
with her. Therefore, he, supported by both Mr. Bingley's sisters, had
prevailed upon Mr. Bingley to give up his intention to propose
marriage to Jane. Thus it was the influence of Mr. Darcy upon Mr.

25
Bingley, which had led to the termination of the relationship
between Jane and Mr. Bingley. This is the information which
Elizabeth gets from Colonel Fitzwilliam's casual talk at Hunsford.
Mr. Darcy's Negative Role, Admitted by Him
When Mr. Darcy proposes marriage to Elizabeth, Elizabeth bluntly
rejects this proposal and tells him that one of her reasons for
rejecting his proposal is that he had prevented his friend Mr. Bingley
from marrying her sister Jane and had thus destroyed the happiness
of a girl who was most noble-minded and kind-hearted. Mr. Darcy, in
his letter to Elizabeth, admits the charge and explains why he had
obstructed Mr. Bingley's marriage with Jane. He says that he had
genuinely been under the impression that Jane was not really in love
with Mr. Bingley, and that he had therefore urged Mr. Bingley to give
up his intention to marry her. He regrets the negative role which he
had played in this affair. Jane now returns to Longbourn from London
where she has spent several months with Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner.
Elizabeth too returns to Longbourn after her stay at Hunsford.
However, Elizabeth does not tell Jane why Mr. Bingley had given up
his intention to marry her (Jane).
A Renewal of Hope; and the Fulfilment of the Hope
Then a new development takes place. Mr. Bingley returns to
Netherfield Park and pays a visit to the Bennet family in the
company of Mr. Darcy, thus renewing his contact with this family.
Mrs. Bennet does not attach much importance to this visit by Mr.
Bingley because she has ceased to hope that Mr. Bingley would
marry Jane. But Mr. Bingley, in paying this visit, has a specific
purpose in his mind. Even Jane, who finds Mr. Bingley's talk very
agreeable and pleasing, does not have any hope that he would
propose marriage to her. But a few days later Mr. Bingley again calls
at Longbourn, this time quite alone. He spends an hour or so with
the Bennet family and seems to be enjoying his conversation with
them. Mrs. Bennet invites him to dine at her house on the following
day, and he gladly accepts this invitation. On the following day, he
duly calls at Longbourn. Elizabeth gets the feeling that these visits
by Mr. Bingley clearly show that he would soon be proposing
marriage to Jane. And Elizabeth proves to be quite right in her
conjecture. Mr. Bingley finds an opportunity to have a conversation
with Jane alone; and, in the course of this conversation, Mr. Bingley
does propose marriage to her. Jane's happiness knows no bound.
Immediately afterwards she informs Elizabeth of her having got
engaged to Mr. Bingley. Elizabeth feels overjoyed to know that her
hope had not proved to be false. Jane then hastens to go to her
mother to inform her of the happy event. Elizabeth honestly and
heartily expresses her delight to Mr. Bingley at his proposal of
marriage to Jane, and she shakes hands with her would-be brotherin-law with great cordiality. On coming to know of this development,
every member of the Bennet family feels delighted. In due course,
Mr. Bingley gets married to Jane; and the marriage takes place on
the same day on which Mr. Darcy marries Elizabeth. Mr. Bennet's

26
happiness is also immense. He offers his congratulations to Jane,
and says that she would really be happy in her married life. It
becomes evident to us that Mr. Darcy must have spoken to. Mr.
Bingley and told him that he had been mistaken in thinking that
Jane was not as deeply in love with him (Mr. Bingley) as he (Mr.
Bingley) had been in love with her. Thus Mr. Darcy plays a positive
role just as previously he had played a negative role in the BingleyJane love-affair.
Saturday, November 6, 2010

On what grounds does Elizabeth reject Mr. Darcy's


proposal of marriage, and how does Mr. Darcy
defend himself against her allegations?
Mr. Darcy's Offensive Sense of His Social Superiority
Elizabeth gives three distinct reasons to Mr. Darcy for having
rejected his proposal of marriage. Firstly, she says that he has
always been speaking to her from a higher level because he is too
proud a man and because he has been always acutely conscious of
his social superiority over her. Even while making his proposal of
marriage, she says, he had told her that he had been loving her
against his will, against his reason, and even against his character.
How can a girl accept a proposal of marriage from a man who
adopts such an arrogant attitude even while making a proposal of
marriage?
Mr. Darcy's Role in Causing a Breach between
Mr. Bingley and Jane
Elizabeth next says that Mr. Darcy has given her several grounds to
think ill to him. One such ground is that he had played an unjust and
ungenerous role in the love-affair of Mr. Bingley and Jane. She says
that he had been the chief means of dividing the lovers from each
other. Mr. Darcy had, by playing a wicked role, brought about a
breach between Mr. Bingley and Jane. In this way, Mr. Darcy had
misled people into thinking that Mr. Bingley was an inconsistent and
fickle-minded man, and that Jane was a foolish girl to have fallen in
love with such a man. Elizabeth further says that Mr. Darcy had
caused misery to both Mr. Bingley and Jane.
Mr. Darcy's Alleged Injustices towards Mr. Wickham
Elizabeth's third reason for rejecting Mr. Darcy's proposal is that,
according to Mr. Wickham's account of Mr. Darcy's dealings with that
man, Mr. Darcy had been most unjust and callous towards him.
Elizabeth says that Mr. Darcy had been responsible for reducing Mr.
Wickham to a state of poverty, that Mr. Darcy had withheld the
benefits which Mr. Darcy was expected to confer upon Mr. Wickham,
and that Mr. Darcy had deprived Mr. Wickham of everything which
he had deserved by virtue of his merits.
Elizabeth's Initial Dislike and

27
Subsequent Hatred of Mr. Darcy
Elizabeth then proceeds to inform Mr. Darcy that, from the very
beginning of her acquaintance with him, he had behaved towards
her in a manner which showed him to be an arrogant and conceited
man, disdainful of the feelings of others. This initial impression of
hers about him had been strengthened by the developments which
had followed. Those developments were the dirty role which he had
played in the Jane-Bingley affair, and Mr. Wickham's catalogue of the
grievances which Mr. Wickham had against Mr. Darcy and of which
Mr. Wickham had himself informed her. She finally tells him that her
dislike of him had become so strong as to be "immovable", and that
within a month of her having known him she had decided that he
was the last man in the world whom she should marry.
Darcy's Reason for Preventing a Marriage between
Mr. Bingley and Jane
Mr. Darcy in his letter explains his position with regard to the
charges which Elizabeth had brought against him. He admits that he
had strongly urged Mr. Bingley not to make a proposal of marriage
to Jane. Mr. Darcy had found that Mr. Bingley had very strongly
been attracted by Jane's beauty. At first Mr. Darcy had treated this
matter very casually, thinking that, in course of time, Mr. Bingley
would himself give up any thought of marrying Jane. Subsequently,
however, Mr. Darcy had found it necessary to intervene in the
matter. He had watched Jane's behaviour and had found that her
look and manners did not give any sign that she was deeply in love
with Mr. Bingley. He had, on the contrary, formed the impression
that, while Mr. Bingley was intensely in love with Jane, Jane's
attitude was one of indifference. From this observation, Mr. Darcy
had concluded that Mr. Bingley would not find much happiness in life
with Jane as his marriage-partner. And this was not the only reason
why he had exerted his influence upon Mr. Bingley to prevent him
from marrying Jane. Another reason was the foolish and sometimes
absurd behaviour of Mrs. Bennet and her two youngest daughters.
Mr. Darcy had not been able to tolerate the silly talk of Mrs. Bennet
and the silly behaviour of the two youngest girls. Even Mr. Bennet's
behaviour had not always been dignified. Mr. Bingley too would have
found such persons to be most embarrassing as his relations.
Darcy's Defence against the Charge
of Injustice to Wickham
Mr. Darcy then proceeds to deal with the charge that he had been
very unjust and cruel towards Mr. Wickham. In this connection Mr.
Darcy says that he had done his utmost to establish Mr. Wickham in
life. He would have certainly conferred a living upon Mr. Wickham if
Mr. Wickham had so desired. It was Mr. Wickham himself who had
informed Mr. Darcy that he did not wish to take orders. Mr. Wickham
had expressed his intention to study law. Mr. Darcy had thereupon
given him enough money to enable him to study law. Soon
afterwards Mr. Darcy came to know that Mr. Wickham was leading a
life of idleness and dissipation. This state of affairs went on for three

28
years. Thereafter Mr. Wickham wrote to him that his circumstances
were very bad and that he would like to become a clergyman if Mr.
Darcy were to confer a living upon him as had originally been
planned. Mr. Darcy did not think Mr. Wickham to be a fit man to
serve the church; and he had therefore rejected Mr. Wickham's
request. Mr. Wickham's resentment against him on this account had
been violent, and Mr. Wickham had thereafter been abusing him in
the presence of other people. But that was not the end of the
matter. Mr. Wickham had subsequently been guilty of very
reprehensible conduct. He had known Georgiana, the sister of Mr.
Darcy, from her childhood. About a year back, Georgiana had been
established in London under the charge of a certain lady by the
name of Mrs. Younge. With the help of this woman, Mr. Wickham had
made Georgiana agree to elope with him. Georgina was at that time
only fifteen years old, and had no experience of the world. Luckily
Mr. Darcy had gone to see Georgiana a day or two before the
intended elopement; and then Georgiana had confessed to him the
whole plan. Of course, Georgiana had by then changed her mind
because she did not want to displease a brother who had looked
after her like a father. But Mr. Wickham's character had now been
fully exposed to him. From that time onwards Mr. Darcy had never
wanted to meet Mr. Wickham. If Mr. Wickham had been able to elope
with Georgiana, and if he had married her, he would have got a
fortune of thirty thousand pounds to which Georgiana was entitled
by her father's will. Mr. Wickham's object had not been Georgiana
but her money. Mr. Darcy concludes his letter by saying that, if
Elizabeth doubts any of his statements as given in this letter, she is
free to contact Colonel Fitzwilliam who is surely a reliable man and
who would confirm everything that Mr. Darcy has written in this
letter.
Elizabeth's Character as Revealed Here
Elizabeth is fully justified in her rejection of Mr. Darcy's proposal of
marriage because all her grounds except one are solid. Mr. Darcy
had certainly been proud and arrogant in dealing with everybody,
including Elizabeth. He had certainly obstructed the marriage of Mr.
Bingley and Jane, thus causing the deepest misery to the latter.
Elizabeth's rejection of the proposal and her stating the reason for
this rejection show her to be a brave and fearless girl who hides
nothing and who seeks no excuses and plays no tricks. She is not
the kind of girl who would sacrifice all considerations of self-respect
and honour in order to become the wife of a rich man owning a large
estate. The only fault in Elizabeth's case is that she had accepted
Mr. Wickham's allegations against Mr. Darcy without having sought
any evidence or proof to support them. She had forgotten the old
adage: "Appearances are deceptive".
Mr. Darcy's Character as Revealed
As Here for Mr. Darcy, his letter shows that he is an honest and
truthful man. However, the charge of pride and arrogance against
him is valid and holds good even at the time of his writing this letter.

29
It is his pride which prevents him from reiterating his proposal of
marriage in the letter in which he has offered a defence of himself
against all the charges. He has not denied the charge that he had
come in the way of Jane's marriage with Mr. Bingley, but he offers no
apology to Elizabeth for the wrong he had done to Jane. As Elizabeth
herself says, this letter itself is written in an insolent and haughty
tone.
Saturday, November 6, 2010

What estimate have you formed of the


character of Mr. Darcy? Do you think that, in
portraying him, Jane Austen has portrayed an
incredible person?
A Handsome Man, with a Disagreeable Disposition
We meet Mr. Darcy quite early in the novel. In fact, we meet him at
the very outset on the occasion of an assembly which is held in the
town of Meryton and which is attended by all the leading families of
the neighboured. Mr. Darcy is described by the author as a fine
figure of a man, and as a tall person with handsome features and a
noble bearing. All the ladies at the assembly look at him with great
admiration so far as his appearance is concerned. But all the ladies
turn away from him as soon as they perceive that he is a proud and
haughty man with a most forbidding and disagreeable disposition.
Pride, his Most Glaring Trait in the Beginning
Mr. Darcy's pride is, indeed, the most glaring trait of his character
when we meet him at this assembly. He is an arrogant man who
thinks that there is hardly any lady attractive enough for him to
dance with. He dances only with the two sisters of his friend Mr.
Bingley and, when urged by Mr. Bingley to dance with Elizabeth, he
gives the haughty reply that she is tolerable but not handsome
enough to tempt him. The ladies attending this assembly find him to
be the proudest and most disagreeable man in the world; and
everybody hopes that he would never attend an assembly again.
Amongst the most hostile to him is Mrs. Bennet whose dislike of his
general behaviour deepens into a strong resentment when he
refuses to dance with one of her daughters (namely Elizabeth).
Although Miss Charlotte Lucas defends him to her friends by saying
that he has every right to be proud, we are not much impressed by
this argument. Pride is an odious trait in a human being, no matter
how sound and strong are the grounds for that pride. No intelligent
man and no sensible woman can ever feel attracted by a proud
man. Later in the story we find Mr. Wickham also describing Mr.
Darcy to Elizabeth as a very proud man, though we cannot attach
much importance to Mr. Wickham's opinions because Mr. Wickham
himself turns out to be a most unreliable kind of man. Talking of his
pride, we perceive a striking contrast between him and his friend Mr.
Bingley. Mr. Bingley can feel sure of being liked wherever he goes,

30
while Mr. Darcy can be sure only of giving offence to all those with
whom he happens to come into contact. Mr. Darcy is clever but he is
at the same time haughty, reserved, and fastidious, while. Mr.
Bingley, though not so intelligent as Mr. Darcy, has a most
agreeable temper and most pleasing manners.
The Development of His Relationship with Elizabeth
Mr. Darcy's initial attitude to Elizabeth is determined by his pride
which, at this early stage in the story, provides the clue to his
character. He brushes aside Mr. Bingley's suggestion that he should
dance with Elizabeth and he goes so far as to say, in the very
hearing of Elizabeth, that he has not come to this assembly to dance
with girls who may have been rejected by other men. This is hardly
a gentlemanly way of speaking. Nor does this way of speaking about
a girl show the good breeding which Mr. Darcy can otherwise claim.
However, Mr. Darcy does have the good sense and the judgment to
discover his error and to make amends for it. Soon afterwards he
finds that Elizabeth's face looks very intelligent because of the
beautiful expression in her dark eyes. Not only that; he now finds
her figure and her manners also to be very pleasing. He now tells
Miss Bingley that a pair of fine eyes in the face of a pretty woman
can be a source of very great pleasure to a man. Later, when
Elizabeth has walked a distance of three miles or so, Mr. Darcy says
that her face looks brighter because of the physical exertion she has
undergone while others at Netherfield Park speak contemptuously of
Elizabeth's having walked such a long distance. And so Mr. Darcy
begins to feel more and more attracted by Elizabeth till he gets the
feeling that he is almost on the brink of falling in love with her. In
fact, he now admits to himself that he had never been so bewitched
by any woman as he is by Elizabeth. And the only circumstance
which prevents his proposing marriage to her immediately is her
social inferiority to him. Soon afterwards he is able even to push the
fact of her social inferiority into the background, and to make a
proposal of marriage to her. Elizabeth, a self-respecting woman as
she is, finds his very manner of proposing marriage to her to be
condescending and patronizing; and she rightly rejects his proposal.
This rejection deeply hurts his pride; and, in order to raise himself in
her estimation, he writes a letter to her defending himself against
the charges which she had brought against him, the charges being
that he had treated Mr. Wickham most unjustly and cruelly, that he
had prevented his friend Mr. Bingley from marrying her sister Jane,
and that his very manner of proposing marriage to her had been
insolent. But, to her surprise, the very tone of this letter, in which
Mr. Darcy has tried to defend himself, is haughty and insulting; and
so she takes no notice of it though, on second thoughts, she begins
to modify her opinion of Mr. Darcy and begins to soften towards him.
She reads this letter again and again, so that he greatly rises in her
estimation. Later, when Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth meet again at
Pemberley, the mutual attraction between the two has grown very
strong. And then it is wholly and solely to render a service to

31
Elizabeth's family that Mr. Darcy goes to London, traces the
whereabouts of Mr. Wickham and Lydia, and brings about the
marriage of the runaway couple by paying to Mr. Wickham as much
money as has been demanded by him as a condition for his
marrying Lydia. Lady Catherine's version of her meeting with
Elizabeth and the talk which she has had with Elizabeth clinches the
issue. Mr. Darcy now goes and renews his proposal of marriage to
Elizabeth who has, by this time, discovered that Mr. Darcy is the
right kind of man to be her husband, and that he and she would
make the happiest couple in the world. She therefore, readily
accepts his proposal.
His Misjudgment of Jane's Feelings
In spite of all his intelligence of which he feels proud, Mr. Darcy is
unable to judge Jane's feeling for Mr. Bingley correctly. According to
Mr. Darcy's view, Jane does not love Mr. Bingley as deeply as he
loves her. Having formed this opinion, which is absolutely wrong, he
then puts pressure on Mr. Bingley to give up his intention to marry
Jane. Of course, we do not doubt Mr. Darcy's bona fides. There is no
doubt that, in urging Mr. Bingley to give up his intention to marry
Jane, Mr. Darcy acts from the best of motives. Mr. Darcy actually
thinks that Mr. Bingley would not be happy with Jane. However, his
advice to Mr. Bingley, well-meant though it is, causes much distress
and pain to Jane. In fact, for several months Jane's life becomes
miserable after Mr. Bingley's abrupt termination of his relationship
with her. She simply cannot understand what has gone wrong and,
even though she tries to put up a good face on her disappointment,
her plight is really pitiable. And her sister Elizabeth too suffers
deeply on her account. Mr. Darcy is to be held squarely responsible
for the misery which he causes to both sisters, though he never
intended to cause this misery, and though he is not even aware of
this misery being experienced by the two sisters.
His Sense of Duty; His Kindness
to his Tenants and Servants
Mr. Darcy is a very loving brother. He looks after his sister Georgiana
with great affection and tenderness, and takes every possible step
to ensure a comfortable life for her. He is a dutiful nephew to Lady
Catherine, though he does not follow her advice blindly because he
knows her limitations and her shortcomings. He knows that Lady
Catherine is a selfish woman who wants him to marry her own
daughter and who therefore goes to an extreme length in an effort
to prevent Elizabeth from agreeing to marry him. Mr. Darcy is a good
master to his servants. As a landlord, he is very kind to his tenants.
His housekeeper at Pemberley, Mrs. Reynolds, speaks very highly of
him. In fact, she describes him to others as a very considerate and
generous master; and she cannot understand why people think him
to be proud. However, it is possible for a man to be proud and yet
be kind towards his tenants and servants.
A Serious-Minded, Grave Kind of Man

32
Mr. Darcy is by nature a serious-minded man. Gravity is the hallmark
of his disposition. He never talks light-heartedly. He is not a jovial or
gay type of man. There is nothing frivolous or flippant about his talk
at any time. He is by nature a reticent or silent kind of man. Often
he calls on the Bennet family and on Elizabeth, but talks so little
during his visits that they begin to wonder why he came at all. But
he is a thorough gentleman, though flawed by pride which, however,
ultimately gives way to a balanced outlook upon life.
By No Means an Unconvincing Portrayal
The portrayal of Mr. Darcy is by no means unconvincing. He is
certainly not an incredible figure, as is alleged by some critics. He is
as convincing a man as is Mr. Bingley to whom he otherwise
presents a striking contrast in almost all respects. Mr. Darcy is
thought to be an unconvincing man perhaps because of the
transformation which takes place in his character in the course of
the novel. From a proud and haughty man, he changes, in course of
time, into a man who has learnt to assess his own worth and the
worth of others rightly and correctly. This change takes place in him
as a result of the treatment which he receives from Elizabeth at
various stages in the story. Towards the close of the novel, Mr.
Darcy, speaking to Elizabeth, traces the development which has
taken place in his character. He tells her that he had been a selfish
person all his life. As a child, he had been spoilt by his parents. His
parents were themselves very good people, and his father
particularly was a very benevolent and amiable man. But they had
taught him to be selfish and dominating, to care for nobody outside
his own family circle, and to have a mean opinion of all the rest of
the world. He further tells Elizabeth that he had been this kind of
man from the age of eight to the age of twenty-eight; and that he
would have continued to be such a man if it had not been for her
influence upon him. And he concludes this account, which he gives
to Elizabeth, with the following words: "What do I not owe you! You
taught me a lesson, hard indeed at first, but most advantageous. By
you, I was properly humbled. I came to you without a doubt of my
reception. You showed me how insufficient were all my pretensions
to please a woman worthy of being pleased." The last two sentences
of this speech refer to Mr. Darcy's sense of complete complacency at
the time of making his first proposal of marriage to Elizabeth. While
making that first proposal, he had thought that he was conferring a
great favour and a great honour on Elizabeth. But her summary
rejection of his proposal had set him thinking. And by degrees he
had begun to realize that he had been too presumptuous in dealing
with her, and that he had under-rated her self-respect and her
worth. Now, this change in Mr. Darcy is by no means something
impossible. There are many cases in which the character of a man
undergoes a change with the change of circumstances or with the
change of environment or with the change of the people with whom
one associates. Elizabeth's rejection of Mr. Darcy's proposal of
marriage had given a jolt to Mr. Darcy's feelings of pride and self-

33
importance. Then her continuing indifference to him had made him
realize that his high rank and social position were not by themselves
such virtues as could place him on a pedestal. And thus he had
learnt a lesson. This change in Mr. Darcy is not abrupt or sudden as
is the transformation in Duke Frederick or in Oliver in Shakespeare's
play As You Like It. The change in Mr. Darcy comes about by
degrees, and occurs over a period of several months. There is
nothing impossible or unbelievable about a change of this kind; and
the portrayal of Mr. Darcy in this novel is therefore by no means
faulty. If anything, this portrayal is a triumph of characterization.
Jane Austen has shown great skill and subtlety in delineating the
complex character of a member of the landed aristocracy which was
in those days a highly privileged class of people.
Saturday, November 6, 2010

Bring out what you think to be the most


attractive traits of Elizabeth's character. Do
you find anything disagreeable about her?
One of the Best-Loved Heroines in English Fiction
Elizabeth is one of the best-loved heroines in English fiction. She
possesses several traits which appeal to us greatly. These traits are
her liveliness of temper, her sense of humour and her wit, her
mature thinking, the ripeness of her judgment, her attachment to
her family and especially to her elder sister Jane, her self-confidence
and boldness, her realization of her mistakes and her feeling of
repentance about them. However, she is not a perfect woman. She
has her weaknesses and her faults.

Her Wit and her Capacity to Laugh at Absurdities


Elizabeth has a healthy outlook on life. She is a lively girl with a
keen sense of humour and with a capacity to make witty remarks.
She has a strong tendency to laugh at the absurdities to people, and
she is capable of making sarcastic remarks. She is quite a sprightly
girl though she certainly has her serious moods and moods of
reflection and even gloom. She is very good at conversation, and is
not at all the type of the demure and dumb girl who has nothing to
say at a party or a social meet. To take only two examples of her wit,
she makes fun of Mr. Darcy early in the novel by saying that he
suffers from no defects at all; and, much later in the novel, when her
mother complains that the departure of Lydia from the house has
made her sad, Elizabeth says that her mother should be happy at
the thought that she still has four unmarried daughters at home
with her. At the same time, it is to be noted that Elizabeth does not
indulge in frivolous or flippant talk. She strongly disapproves of the
kind of talk in which her two youngest sisters often indulge, and also
of the kind of trivial and vulgar talk in which her mother indulges.

34
She often feels embarrassed by the kind of remarks which her
mother makes at social gatherings.
The Maturity of her Mind
Elizabeth shows the maturity of her mind when she urges her father
not to allow Lydia to go to Brighton with Mrs. Forster. She tries to
impress upon her father the unpleasant consequences which are
likely to result from Lydia's stay in Brighton where she would be
absolutely free to behave just as she likes. She describes Lydia as a
vain, ignorant, and idle girl who is likely to go astray because of her
exuberant spirits and the absence of any parental control. It is
another matter that Mr. Bennet pays no heed to Elizabeth's advice.
Subsequently, the news of Lydia's elopement with Mr. Wickham
justifies Elizabeth's prediction about Lydia's conduct at Brighton.
Elizabeth once again shows the maturity of her mind by telling her
aunt Mrs. Gardiner that there is little possibility of Mr. Wickham
actually marrying Lydia. In this context she says that Mr. Wickham
has every charm of person and conversation to captivate a woman,
and that he is likely to take undue advantage of Lydia who does not
yet have enough experience of life to understand the workings of
the mind of a man like Mr. Wickham. Elizabeth says that Lydia can
fall an easy prey to Mr. Wickham's lust. This analysis by Elizabeth of
the minds of Mr. Wickham and Lydia is perfectly sound.
Her Concern for her Family
Elizabeth is deeply attached to her family. She is aware of the faults
of her mother and even more keenly aware of the faults of her two
youngest sisters, Kitty and Lydia. In spite of that, she feels a deep
concern for the welfare of the family. On receiving the news of
Lydia's elopement, when Elizabeth is staying at Lambton in the
company of Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, she feels most upset to think of
the disgrace which the Bennet family would now have to face. She
has now no peace of mind and, therefore, she rushes back home in
order to give what comfort she can to her parents and to Jane who is
also feeling deeply disturbed by Lydia's shameful behaviour.
Her Deep Attachment to Jane
Elizabeth's attachment to Jane is one of the most striking traits of
her character. Sisters always love each other; but, in Elizabeth's love
and affection for Jane, there is something exceptional and
something extraordinary. Elizabeth feels constantly worried about
Jane after Mr. Bingley has left Netherfield Park, probably never to
return. From this point on wards, Elizabeth is constantly thinking of
how to comfort and console Jane. While Jane keeps saying that she
would get over her disappointment, Elizabeth knows that inwardly
Jane is feeling most dejected. Elizabeth's chief anxiety now is to
bring good cheer into Jane's life. Such affection for a sister is really
touching; and this is certainly one of Elizabeth's most attractive
traits.
Her Self-Confidence and her Boldness
Her self-confidence and her boldness are some other attractive
traits of Elizabeth's character. She never feels nervous or awed in

35
the company of persons who are socially above her. For instance,
when she has to stay at Neitherfield Park for a few days in order to
attend upon Jane who has fallen ill there, she takes an active part in
the conversations which take place there between Mr. Darcy, Mr.
Bingley, and Miss Bingley. She has the courage to differ with them
when her view of a matter is different from theirs. When Mr. Bingley
says that there are many girls who possess all the accomplishments,
Elizabeth boldly says that she has never come across any girl who
possesses all the accomplishments on a later occasion, she tells Mr.
Darcy that he has a tendency to hate everybody; and she tells him
her view without flinching. She remains perfectly cool and
composed when she pays a visit to Rosings Park in the company of
Sir William and Maria both of whom feels awed by the splendours of
Lady Catherine's mansion. Nor does she feel unnerved by the
insolent questions which Lady Catherine asks her. However,
Elizabeth's self-confidence and self-assertion are exhibited in a most
striking manner in the scene of her confrontation with Lady
Catherine when the latter pays a visit to her at Longbourn. On this
occasion Elizabeth is not in the least cowed by Lady Catherine's
threats, and refuses firmly to give her the promise which Lady
Catherine has demanded from her in an authoritative and bullying
manner. Here Elizabeth surely rises to the stature of a true heroine.
No Self-Deception; No Cunning or Trickery about her
Elizabeth is an honest woman. She is honest with herself and with
others. She is a woman of integrity. She does not believe in cunning
or trickery. She is filled with self-reproach when she discovers the
mistake she had made in judging Mr. Wickham's character. She had
been deeply impressed by that man's outward charm and had
almost fallen in love with him. She had taken his account of Mr.
Darcy's past dealings with him on its face value, without having
tried to seek any evidence to support his allegations against Mr.
Darcy. But when the truth becomes known to her, she is filled with
the deepest regret. She now admits to herself that, in believing Mr.
Wickham, she had been "blind, partial, prejudiced, and absurd". She
says to herself: "How despicably have I acted! I, who have prided
myself on my discernment!" Such a confession shows that Elizabeth
has the courage to face the realities.
Her Occasional Moods of Cynicism
Even Elizabeth's occasional moods of cynicism lend her a certain
charm. On one occasion, she tells her sister Jane that there are very
few people whom she really loves and still fewer of whom she has a
high opinion. She says that the more she observes the world, the
more dissatisfied she feels with it. She then complains of the
inconsistency of all human beings. This is a realistic appraisal of the
world and of human nature, even though the example which she
gives to illustrate her view is not quite convincing. (The example
which she here gives is Charlotte's decision to marry Mr. Collins).
Luckily she is not a confirmed cynic at all. Her admiration for Jane's

36
goodness, as also the admiration which she begins to feel for Mr.
Darcy in course of time, amply shows that.
Her Shortcomings
However, Elizabeth does suffer from certain shortcomings and
faults. She is easily prejudiced, and her prejudices sometimes take
deep roots in her mind. Such is the prejudice she harbours against
Mr. Darcy, especially after Mr. Wickham has spoken to her about that
man. In this particular case, Elizabeth betrays a strange lack of the
power to judge human character. She is completely taken in by Mr.
Wickham's deceptive looks and his plausible manner of talking.
Even more glaring is her prejudice against Mr. Collins. There is no
doubt that Mr. Collins is a fool and a clown; but Elizabeth goes so far
in her criticism of his character as to become almost hostile to him.
She uses very strong language to condemn and censure him; and
she feels deeply offended with Charlotte for agreeing to marry him.
She does not realize Charlotte's compulsions in taking this decision.
Even after she has observed with her own eyes Charlotte's
happiness in her married life, she does not relent in her bitterness
against Mr. Collins, and her opinion of him does not undergo any
change.

The Development of the Darcy-Elizabeth


Relationship
Mutual Dislike in the Beginning; Marriage at the End
Pride and Prejudice is largely the story of Miss Elizabeth Bennet and
Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, although certain other characters such as Mr.
Bingley, Miss Jane Bennet, and Mr. Wickham also figure prominently
in the novel. Both Elizabeth and Darcy create a forceful impression
on us.
In fact, we would be perfectly justified in designating Elizabeth as
the heroine, and Mr. Darcy as the hero of the novel. The ElizabethDarcy relationship dominates the novel. These two persons begin
with a mutual dislike of each other, but then they both begin to feel
drawn towards each other till they find that they are both in love
with each other and are, in fact, indispensable to each other.
Marriage is the natural consequence of this discovery by them.
Elizabeth's Self-Esteem, Hurt By Mr. Darcy's Remark
Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy meet each other at an assembly (that is, a
social gathering). Mr. Darcy has come to this assembly in the
company of his intimate friend, Mr. Bingley. The girls attending the
assembly are greatly attracted by Mr. Darcy chiefly because of his
handsome appearance and his large estate (which is situated in
Derbyshire). The girls are also attracted greatly by Mr. Bingley who
too is a good-looking and very rich man. While Mr. Bingley shows a
lot of interest in the girls, and more especially in Miss Jane Bennet,
Mr. Darcy does not feel much attracted by any of the girls. In fact,
Mr. Darcy thinks that none of the girls present suits him as a partner

37
in the dancing and therefore he dances only with the two sisters of
his friend, Mr. Bingley. When Mr. Bingley suggests to Mr. Darcy that
he should dance with Elizabeth, Mr. Darcy speaks disapprovingly of
her, saying that there is not much charm about her. This
uncomplimentary remark by Mr. Darcy about Elizabeth is overheard
by her, and she therefore feels very annoyed with him. Otherwise
too Mr. Darcy seems to be a very proud man. Mrs. Bennet, after
attending the assembly, and speaking to her husband, describes Mr.
Darcy as a very rude kind of man. Thus on the occasion of their very
first meeting, Mr. Darcy expresses the view that Elizabeth is not
beautiful enough to tempt him, while Elizabeth feels deeply
offended with him after overhearing this remark. Elizabeth feels that
Mr. Darcy is a very proud man who has mortified her own pride.
What she means is that Mr. Darcy has hurt her self-esteem.
A Change in Mr. Darcy's Opinion of Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy meet again, Elizabeth is determined
not to dance with him because of the grudge which she is
harbouring against him. However, a slight change now takes place
in Mr. Darcy's view of Elizabeth. He begins to find that Elizabeth's
face is rendered uncommonly intelligent by the beautiful expression
of her dark eyes. He also finds that her figure is light and pleasing;
and he is impressed by the easy playfulness of her manners. He now
tells Miss Bingley that Elizabeth is a pretty woman having a pair of
fine eyes. Miss Bingley regards Mr. Darcy's praise of Elizabeth as a
clear signal that he is thinking of Elizabeth as his would-be wife. She
then makes a sarcastic remark, telling Mr. Darcy that, in case he
marries Elizabeth, he would get a charming mother-in-law in Mrs.
Bennet. Actually, Mrs. Bennet has not produced a good impression
on either Miss Bingley or Mr. Darcy, and Miss Bingley's remark is
therefore meant to lower both Elizabeth and her mother in Mr.
Darcy's estimation.
Mr. Darcy's Comment upon Elizabeth's Long Walk
When Jane has fallen ill at Netherfield Park, Elizabeth goes to attend
upon her sister. Elizabeth walks the whole distance of about three
miles from Longbourn to Netherfield Park. Mr. Bingleys two sisters
mock at Elizabeth for having walked such a long distance because
they think themselves to be fine ladies and because, in their
opinion, only a low-class girl would care to walk such a long
distance. However, Mr. Darcy does not share the opinion of these
two ladies in this respect. He defends Elizabeth for having walked
this long distance, and says that her eyes looked brighter after she
had walked that long distance. Elizabeth, of course, does not know
the comments which these persons have made upon the long walk
that she has taken. She continues to nurse a grievance against Mr.
Darcy for having made an adverse remark about her at the
assembly.
Mr. Darcy, Charmed by Elizabeth;
her Handicap in his View

38
Mr. Darcy now becomes more and more interested in Elizabeth. Miss
Bingley perceives this change in Mr. Darcy, and she tries her utmost
not to allow Elizebeth to get too close to him because Miss Bingley is
herself interested in him. Mr. Darcy has now begun to like Elizabeth
very much and is, in fact, feeling thorougly charmed by her. Her only
handicap in his eyes is that she does not belong to the aristocratic
class of society to which he himself belongs. If she had been the
daughter of aristocratic and rich parents, Mr. Darcy would certainly
have proposed marriage to her at this very stage in the story. Mr.
Darcy is a proud man and a snob who believes in distinctions of
class and rank. Elizabeth, on her part, continues to feel prejudiced
against Mr. Darcy because of the adverse opinion which he had
initially expressed about her.
Different Points of View
In the course of a conversation, Mr. Darcy happens to say that it has
always been his effort to avoid weaknesses which invite ridicule.
Elizabeth asks if vanity and pride are among the weaknesses which
he tries to avoid. Mr. Darcy replies that vanity is surely a weakness
which should be avoided, but that pride has to be properly regulated
if a proud man has a really superior mind. Elizabeth, speaking to
Miss Bingley, says half ironically that Mr. Darcy suffers from no
defect. Mr. Darcy, intervening, says that he has his full share of
faults, though his faults are not due to any mental deficiency in him.
He then goes on to say that he cannot ignore the follies and vices
from which other people suffer; and he adds: "My good opinion once
lost is lost for ever." Elizabeth, however, tells him that it is surely a
fault in him if he can never ignore other people's follies and vices.
She even says to him at this time that his defect is a tendency to
hate everybody, to which he replies that her defect is deliberately to
misunderstand everybody. Now, it is clear to us that Elizabeth is
keen to maintain the independence of her mind. Any other girl
would have been at pains to humour Mr. Darcy and to endorse
whatever opinion he might have expressed. But Elizabeth has the
courage to differ with him. Mr. Darcy, it seems, does not resent
Elizabeth's disagreeing with the opinions which he expresses. On
the contrary, Mr. Darcy finds that he is feeling more and more drawn
towards her.
Mr. Darcy, Almost in Love with Elizabeth
Mr. Darcy now thinks that, if he comes into contact with Elizabeth
more often, he might actually fall in love with her. The author in this
context writes: "He began to feel the danger of paying Elizabeth too
much attention." Mr. Darcy pays little heed to Miss Bingley who tries
her utmost to win his good opinion and his heart. At this point we
get the feeling that Mr. Darcy has already fallen in love with
Elizabeth though he does not yet admit this fact even to himself.
The chief obstruction in his way is Elizabeth's lower social position.
He thinks that his marrying Elizabeth would be an unseemly step
because he is far above Elizabeth in social standing.
Elizabeth Hardening; and Darcy Softening

39
A new complication arises in the Elizabeth-Darcy relationship when
Mr. Wickham appears on the stage. This man, who becomes rapidly
familiar with Elizabeth because of his social charm, tells Elizabeth
that Mr. Darcy had done him a great wrong and a great injustice. Mr.
Wickham represents himself to Elizabeth as a victim of Mr. Darcy's
callousness and high-handedness, with the result that Elizabeth's
prejudice against Mr. Darcy is now increased. In this frame of mind,
Elizabeth tells her friend Charlotte that she is determined of hate Mr.
Darcy and that there is no possibility at all of her finding him an
agreeable man. Then another event takes place which further
intensifies Elizabeth's bitterness against Mr. Darcy. She learns from
Colonel Fitzwilliam that Mr. Darcy had dissuaded Mr. Bingley from
proposing marriage to her sister Jane. Thus several reasons have
now combined to harden Elizabeth's attitude towards Mr. Darcy,
while Mr. Darcy, on his part, has been softening towards Elizabeth.
Darcy's Proposal of Marriage; and Elizabeth's Rejection of It
Mr. Darcy is now so much in love with Elizabeth that he proposes
marriage to her. This happens when Elizabeth is staying at Hunsford.
However, his consciousness of Elizabeth's social inferiority to him
has by no means weakened or diminished. Even while making this
proposal of marriage to her, he goes out of his way to emphasize
the fact of her being socially very much beneath him. Elizabeth, who
is a very self-respecting girl, feels deeply offended by the
condescending manner in which Mr. Darcy has made his proposal of
marriage, and she therefore summarily rejects his proposal not only
because of his arrogant manner but because of other reasons as
well. She gives him her reasons for this rejection in some detail. She
tells him that he had prevented his friend Mr. Bingley from marrying
her sister Jane. She tells him that he had most unjustly and cruelly
treated Mr. Wickham, the son of the steward to Mr. Darcy's late
father. And, of course, she points out to him the superiority complex
from which he is suffering.
Darcy's Letter to Elizabeth in Defence of Himself
On the following day, Mr. Darcy hands over a letter to Elizabeth. This
letter contains Mr. Darcy's defence of himself. Through this letter he
informs Elizabeth that he might have been mistaken in his judgment
of her sister Jane and might have committed an error of judgment in
preventing Mr. Bingley from marrying Jane, but that his treatment of
Mr. Wickham had fully been justified because Mr. Wickham, far from
deserving any favour or any kindness, is an obnoxious man, having
no scruples at all. Mr. Darcy further points out that the behaviour of
Elizabeth's mother and her two youngest sisters has been far from
pleasing.
A Change in Elizabeth's View of Darcy
Although Elizabeth finds that the tone of Mr. Darcy's letter is insolent
and haughty, yet the letter does bring about a certain change in her.
She begins to realize that Mr. Darcy had, after all, not been unjust in
his treatment of Mr. Wickham. She also realizes that Mr. Darcy had
some valid ground for preventing Mr. Bingley from marrying Jane

40
because Jane had really not given to Mr. Bingley a sufficient
indication that she was deeply in love with him. Elizabeth also
admits to herself that the behaviour of her mother and her two
youngest sisters has been undignified and therefore disagreeable.
Mutual Appreciation of Each Other
During Elizabeth's stay at Lambton and her visit to Pemberley
House, Mr. Darcy is at pains to please Elizabeth by his talk and by
calling in her in the company of his sister Georgiana. So anxious is
Mr. Darcy to place Elizabeth at Lambton that Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner
feel convinced that he is in love with her. On one occasion when
Miss Bingley begins to speak unfavourably about Elizabeth's
physician appearance, Mr. Darcy says that Elizabeth is one of the
handsomest women of his acquaintance. Elizabeth, on her part, has
now begun to think that Mr. Darcy is exactly the man who, in
disposition and talents, would suit her most as her husband. She
believes that his understanding and temper, though unlike her own,
would answer all her wishes.
Elizabeth's Admiration for Darcy for his
Role in the Lydia-Wickham Affair
Elizabeth begins to admire Mr. Darcy still more when she comes to
know of the role which he had played in bringing about the marriage
of Lydia and Mr. Wickham. She now thinks that the Bennet family
has reason to feel deeply indebted to Mr. Darcy for having saved
them from disgrace and infamy. Mr. Darcy's action in having paid Mr.
Wickham the required sum of money and having settled the whole
matter amicably shows him to be a high-minded man.
The Effect on Mr. Darcy of Lady Catherine's
Talk with Elizabeth
Another event now takes place to bring Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy
closer to each other. This event is a visit by Lady Catherine to
Longbourn. Lady Catherine, in a private meeting with Elizabeth,
warns her against agreeing to marry her nephew, Mr. Darcy. Lady
Catherine says that Mr. Darcy is to marry her own daughter Miss
Ann de Bourgh and that Elizabeth should not dare to think of
marrying him. Lady Catherine utters all sorts of threats to Elizabeth;
but Elizabeth remains calm and unafraid, and her answers to Lady
Catherine show that she would decide the matter in accordance with
her own wishes in case Mr. Darcy at all proposes marriage to her.
Lady Catherine feels most annoyed by Elizabeth's attitude. When
Lady Catherine meets Mr. Darcy in London, she tells him of the
meeting which she has had with Elizabeth, and the answers which
Elizabeth had given to her. Mr. Darcy now feels convinced that
Elizabeth has a soft corner for him, and so he decides to renew his
proposal of marriage to her.
Elizabeth's Acceptance of Mr. Darcy's
Proposal of Marriage
At his next meeting with Elizabeth, Mr. Darcy once again proposes
marriage to her, admitting that he is now a changed man and that
all his pride, vanity, selfishness, and arrognce have been humbled

41
by her. He says that he owes the great change in his character to
the manner in which she had been behaving towards him. Elizabeth,
whose own attitude towards Mr. Darcy has undergone a great
change on account of various reasons including the role which Mr.
Darcy had played in the Lydia-Wickham affair, gladly accepts the
proposal. And so, after the permission of Mr. Bennet has been
obtained by Mr. Darcy, the marriage of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth takes
place amid great jubilation.
Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Character and Personality of the Heroine


in "Pride and Prejudice"
An Attractive Woman, With a Lively
Disposition
Elizabeth Bennet finds a mention in the very opening chapter, but
all we learn here about her is that her father is more favourably
inclined towards her than her mother. Soon afterwards we find her
attending an assembly at which a gentleman by the name of Mr.
Darcy expresses a rather unfavourable opinion about her
appearance.
When his friend, Mr. Bingley, suggests that Mr. Darcy should dance
with Elizabeth whom Mr. Bingley describes as very pretty and very
agreeable, Mr. Darcy gives a reply which is overheard by Elizabeth
and which greatly offends her. Mr. Darcy's reply is that this girl is
just tolerable so far as her looks are concerned and that she is not
handsome enough to tempt him. The dislike, which Elizabeth
conceives so early in the story for this man because of a disparaging
remark that he has made about her, persists for quite a long time. In
fact, this dislike soon deepens into a hatred because of various
reasons. This dislike, which is not baseless, and the hatred which
follows soon afterwards but which does not have a very sound basis,
constitute the "prejudice" which may be regarded as a prominent
trait of her character, at least in the first half of the novel. Actually,
Elizabeth is physically by no means unattractive or unhandsome as
Mr. Darcy thinks. Soon afterwards Mr. Darcy himself recognizes the
fact that Elizabeth has alight and pleasing figure, and that she has a
pretty face with beautiful dark eyes the expression of which lends a
great charm to her face. So far as Elizabeth's disposition is
concerned, she is by no means sour or sullen. In the author's words,
she has a lively, playful disposition. Towards the end of the novel,
Mr. Darcy, on being asked by Elizabeth what it was that had
attracted him to her after his initial unfavourable impression, replies
that it was "the liveliness of her mind" which had impressed him
most. Nor is there any doubt that Elizabeth has a ready wit which
she shows in the course of her conversation with various persons in
the story. She has a quick mind and a sharp intelligence; and she
has a more than ordinary conversational ability. Although much
lower in social standing than Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley, she can hold

42
her own while talking to them. She never feels at a loss for words
even in such elegant company as these gentlemen and also Mr.
Bingley's two sisters. And she has the courage to differ with these
persons who occupy much higher social positions than she does. For
instance, when Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy are talking about the
accomplishments which a woman should possess, Elizabeth says
that she has never seen a woman possessing all the
accomplishments enumerated by Mr. Bingley. She says that she has
never found such capacity, such taste, and such elegance united in
one single woman. Nor does Elizabeth feel awed by the conceited
sisters of Mr. Bingley or by the arrogant Lady Catherine. She can
even poke fun at a man like Mr. Darcy in such a sly manner so that
he does not perceive the mockery in her words. For instance, she
tells Miss Bingley that Mr. Darcy has no defect at all in his character,
and that Mr. Darcy himself admits that he is free from all defects of
character. Now, this remark by Elizabeth is a sarcasm directed
against Mr. Darcy, though Mr. Darcy does not become aware of it.
She can even make a joke at her mother's cost. When Mrs. Bennet
expresses her unhappiness at Lydia 's departure from the house
after a brief stay there with her husband, Elizabeth says to her
mother: "This is the consequence you see, madam, of marrying a
daughter. It must make you better satisfied that your other four are
single." And Elizabeth has not only a keen sense of humour but also
much sense (meaning wisdom). Here is a gem of a thought which
she speaks to Mr. Darcy: "Think only of the past as its remembrance
gives you pleasure."
Her View of Mr. Collins
Elizabeth is an excellent judge of character. She is able to assess the
worth of Mr. Darcy, Mr. Bingley, and Mr. Bingley's sisters early in the
story, and she also quickly understands the character of Mr. Collins.
Without having met Mr. Collins, and after listening only to the letter
which he has written to her father, she expresses the opinion that
Mr. Collins seems to be an "oddity" and not a sensible man. Her
opinion of Mr. Collins is confirmed when she meets him, with the
result that, when he proposes marriage to her, she refuses him
without the least hesitation, though her refusal is couched in polite
language. When he reiterates his proposal, she again refuses him,
this time more firmly. She has formed a rather low opinion about the
intelligence of Mr. Collins who seems to her to be a sort of clown.
Although her mother scolds her in strong terms for having refused a
good offer of marriage, she does not change her mind and feels
stronger when her refusal of Mr. Collins's proposal is supported by
her father. She has such a low opinion of Mr. Collins that she feels
shocked when her intimate friend Charlotte agrees to become his
wife. On being told by Charlotte that she has accepted Mr. Collins's
proposal of marriage, Elizabeth cries out: "Engaged to Mr. Collins!
My dear Charlotte, impossible!" Later she describes him as a man
who has not one agreeable quality, and who has neither manners
nor sense to recommend him. Indeed, Elizabeth has been thinking

43
that no decent girl would accept a proposal of marriage from Mr.
Collins. In view of her opinion of Mr. Collins, and also in view of the
manner in which Mr. Bingley has abruptly terminated his relationship
with Jane, Elizabeth now forms a rather cynical view of human
nature. Speaking to Jane, she says: "There are few people whom I
really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of
the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms
my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters. " Elizabeth's
opinion about Sir William and his daughter Maria are also in line with
her thinking as indicated in these lines. When she sets out with Sir
William and Maria for Hunsford, their company is not really
agreeable to her because she thinks both of them to be "emptyheaded" persons. Elizabeth enjoys the absurdities of the human
character, but the absurdities of Sir William no longer interest her
because she has long been accustomed to them. She enjoys the
absurdities of Mr. Collins a little longer. And of course his absurdities
include his extravagantly flattering manner of speaking about Lady
Catherine.
Her Misjudgment of the Character of Mr. Wickham
In spite of her maturity of judgment and of her exceptional
intelligence, Elizabeth fails to understand the character of Mr.
Wickham. Like everybody else, she is fascinated and charmed by his
handsome appearance, his pleasing manners, and his winning talk.
In fact, she half falls in love with Mr. Wickham. She regards every
word that he has said about Mr. Darcy as true. In fact, Mr. Wickham's
charges against Mr. Darcy deepen Elizabeth's dislike of that man
and create an additional prejudice in her mind against him. So
impressed does she feel by Mr. Wickham that she would most
probably have accepted a proposal of marriage from him in case he
had made one to her. Afterwards, of course, Elizabeth is sadly
disillusioned about Mr. Wickham's character.
Her Attachment to Jane
Elizabeth is deeply attached to her family, and more particularly to
her father and to Jane. For Jane especially, she harbours feelings of
the deepest tenderness and affection. She shares Jane's every
mood. She feels happy when Jane is happy, and she feels gloomy
when she finds Jane in a gloomy mood. She feels very happy when
there is every sign that Mr. Bingley would propose marriage to Jane.
But she feels very distressed when soon afterwards Mr. Bingley
leaves for London and does not communicate with Jane for several
months together. During this period of Jane's despondency,
Elizabeth is always striving to cheer her up.
Her Views about Her Father and Her Mother
She is her father's favourite; and, though she too feels a deep
affection for him, she is not blind to his faults. For instance, she
thinks it highly objectionable that her father should behave towards
her mother rudely because she thinks that her father's bad
treatment of her mother would have most undesirable effects on
their daughters. She is fully alive to her mother's faults also. In fact,

44
her mother's manner of talking embarrasses her very much on
various social occasions. She also finds much truth in Mr. Darcy's
view that Mrs. Bennet and Mr. Bennet's younger daughters always
talk and behave in a most undignified manner.
Her Understanding of the Nature of Lydia
Elizabeth shows her deep concern for her family when she receives
news that Lydia has eloped with Mr. Wickham. She gets this news
when she is staying at Lambton with her uncle and aunt; but on
receiving this news she decides at once to rush home in order to
give whatever comfort and consolation she can give to the members
of her family. Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, who share her anxiety,
thereupon also decide to cut short their holiday, and come back with
her to Longbourn. On the way Elizabeth offers to her aunt a
penetrating analysis of the mind of Lydia and the character of Mr.
Wickham who has lured her away. Elizabeth tells her aunt that Lydia
had for the last one year or so been giving herself upto nothing but
amusement and vanity, and that she had been allowed by her
parents to spend her time in the most idle and frivolous manner.
Thus Elizabeth here indirectly blames her parents for having
neglected their duty in keeping a watch over Lydia. Even when Lydia
was about to leave for Brighton in the company of Mrs. Forster,
Elizabeth had urged her father not to allow Lydia go to away from
home. She had warned her father that Lydia, being an irresponsible
type of girl, might come to harm if she were allowed to go to
Brighton. Her father had paid no heed to Elizabeth's advice, with the
result that Elizabeth's prediction proves to have been right.
Elizabeth now also tells her aunt that, although Mr. Wickham has
every charm of person and manner, yet he has actually been living
the life of a profligate man. Thus, here also we get evidence of
Elizabeth's having a mature judgment and a capacity to understand
events and situations.
The Development of Her Relationship with Mr. Darcy
The most important aspect of Elizabeth's life is, of course, her
relationship with Mr. Darcy. Initially, Elizabeth feels a dislike of Mr.
Darcy who had made a disparaging remark about her to Mr. Bingley.
This dislike, or we may call it prejudice, soon deepens into hatred
when Mr. Wickham gives her a long account of the injustices and the
wrongs which, according to his version, he had suffered at the hands
of Mr. Darcy. At this stage we, as well as she, are deceived by Mr.
Wickham's account, which is totally false. When, later, she learns
that Mr. Darcy had prevented Mr. Bingley from marrying her sister
Jane, she begins to hate Mr. Darcy even more than before. In other
words, her prejudice against Mr. Darcy deepens still further. Mr.
Darcy, on the other hand, has gradually been falling under her spell
and, when she is staying at Hunsford, he makes a proposal of
marriage to her. She immediately and unhesitatingly rejects this
proposal. However, when Mr. Darcy hands over a letter to her,
answering all the charges which she had levelled against him, she
feels compelled to modify her view of Mr. Darcy, even though this

45
letter too is written in the same insolent manner in which he had
made his proposal of marriage to her. Her reading of this letter
marks a turning-point in her attitude to Mr. Darcy. Her prejudice
against Mr. Darcy had earlier reached such proportions that she had
begun to entertain thoughts of marrying Mr. Wickham, and, later, of
marrying Colonel Fitzwilliam. However, now she feels drawn towards
Mr. Darcy because she finds that he is not essentially a bad man,
and that his only fault was pride which too now seems to have
considerably diminised. The courteous and kind manner, in which he
behaves towards her at Pemberley, and at the inn at Lambton,
further softens her towards him. She now begins to think that her
rejection of his proposal of marriage had been a mistake. She now
feels convinced that Mr. Darcy is exactly the man who, by virtue of
his temperament and his abilities, would have suited her as her
husband. The service which Mr. Darcy had done to the Bennet family
by bringing about the marriage of Lydia and Mr. Wickham too has
greatly influenced Elizabeth's new attitude to him. Then comes her
confrontation with Lady Catherine. In this interview, which is
perhaps the most gripping scene in the whole novel, Elizabeth rises
to the stature of a true heroine. Already, we have formed a highly
favourable view of her abilities, attainments, and intelligence; but
now we find that she is a most intrepid [1] woman who cannot be
cowed by a haughty and bullying woman like Lady Catherine.
Elizabeth gives bold answers to all Lady Catherine's questions, and
fearlessly rejecs all her suggestions, which are aimed at preventing
marriage between her and Mr. Darcy. Lady Catherine's questions
and her suggestions have clearly indicated to Elizabeth that Mr.
Darcy is most probably thinking of proposing marriage to her. And,
when Lady Catherine soon afterwards meets Mr. Darcy and gives
him an account of her interview with Elizabeth, Mr. Darcy gets a
clearidea of Elizabeth's having softened towards him and of her
inclination to accept a proposal of marriage from him. And so Mr.
Darcy goes to Longbourn and makes his proposal of marriage to her.
She gladly accepts the proposal. Mr. Darcy's pride has been
humbled, and Elizabeth's prejudices against him have melted away.
And now Elizabeth regains her playfulness, and gives clear evidence
of it even in his conversation with Mr. Darcy who is by nature a
grave man. She asks him what it was that had attracted him to her
even though she had been uncivil to him. And his reply is that he
had been attracted to her by the liveliness of her mind. She
thereupon proceeds to give him an analysis of his own mind, and
the reasons which had made him fall in love with her. She tells him
that too much civility and deference from people had begun to bore
him, and that he had been feeling disgusted with the women who
had always been eager to please and humour him, till she entered
his life. She points out to him that he had found her to be a different
kind of woman, and that he had therefore felt attracted towards her.
This analysis of Mr. Darcy's mind by Elizabeth does much credit to
her intelligence. This analysis tallies with the account which Mr.

46
Darcy had himself earlier given of how he had been a selfish and
proud man all his life, and how she had been instrumental in curing
him of his defects.
One of the Best-Loved Heroines in English Fiction
Elizabeth is undoubtedly an adorable woman. She is not only a
heroine but a memorable heroine whom it is difficult to forget.
Indeed, she is one of the best-known and best-loved heroines in
English fiction. She was a favourite of Jane Austen herself. In fact,
one of the reasons for the vast popularity of Pride and Prejudice is
the portrayal of Elizabeth in it. Apart from the liveliness of her mind,
which is the quality that chiefly appealed to Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth is
distinguished by her sheer goodness of heart and her outspoken
nature. Her heart is as transparent as a crystal. There is not the
least touch of trickery or cunning in her nature. Any kind of
manipulation is alien to her nature. And, then, she has a healthy,
wholesome mind. She is able to laugh at human absurdities, and
she is capable of making witty and amusing remarks.
Saturday, November 6, 2010

Some Comments on "Pride and Prejudice"


Irony, the Pervasive Quality of the Novel
They have, however, not yet done with the irony that has dogged
them from the beginning. They still have to explain themselves to
their sceptical friends and relations. The reader has learned to look
out for irony in every twist of the story, and particularly in the
speeches, many of which have had to be unsaid by the speakers, or
wished unsaid, not least by Elizabeth.
It penetrates the whole structure of the novel. Observe how skilfully
Wickham's rascality is made the chief agency in the reconciliation of
Elizabeth and Darcy, providing a signal occasion for Darcy's
magnanimity to transpire. Note how the pompous stupidity of Mr.
Collins's proposal to Elizabeth, the crowning example in fiction of
pertinacious and unacceptable addresses, softens by contrast the
infatuated assurance of Darcy's, which speedily follows. Jane Austen
herself pauses to count the nails which Miss Bingley hammers into
her own coffin when she teases Elizabeth, in Darcy's presence,
about the departure of the officers, including Wickham, little aware
of the pain she is inflicting by reminding him of Wickham's nearly
successful attempt to run off with his sister Georgiana. It is Darcy,
his solemnity gone now that he is an accepted lover, who points out
the irony of his aunt's intervention: "Lady Catherine has been of
infinite use, which ought to make her happy, for she loves to be of
use." Elizabeth, with her formidable wit, can hold her own with
anyone; she can also be humorous, about herself, as when she
answers Jane's inquiry when she first did find out that she loved
Darcy, "It has been coming on so gradually, that I hardly know when
it began; but"and this is only half raillery" I believe I must date it
from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley." It was not
the grounds that were the grounds for the change, but she was right

47
about the date. Irony is the soul of Jane Austen's comedy; the comic
aspects of life are the ironical aspects, visible to good sense in its
contemplation of erroneous judgments and bigoted or merely
indolent persistence in error, of the contradiction between our
desires and the good that we desire. Mrs. Gardiner was not far
wrong about Darcy, who is a comic figure alongwith the rest of
them, when she remarked, "I fancy, Lizzie, that obstinacy is the real
defect of his character, after all."

EA. Baker
The Minor Characters in the Novel
For it is not only the protagonists that engross interest, the minor
characters are as perfectly studied, in their due perspective. Leaving
Mr. Collins and Lady Catherine out of account, not as extraneous,
however, for together they provide a magnificent comic pendant to
the more intense drama of Elizabeth and Darcy, look at the others.
The Bennets are a comedy in themselves, and Mary is a failure only
because she remains an unfinished sketch. But the two elder sisters,
so finely contrasted, and the pair of hoydens, the empty-headed,
flirting Lydia, and Kitty who so narrowly escapes the same fate; and
their friends, the over-genial, babbling Sir William Lucas, so uplifted
with his knighthood; his womenfolk, and the officers from Meryton;
every one is individualized with masterly precision. With such
figures may be coupled that amiable, colourless young fellow
Bingley, and his insincere sister, and the easy-going scamp
Wickham, whose worst faults are left unprobed. Mrs. Bennet is a
comic production of high order. Silly, incredibly ignorant, and
irresponsible, she was a dreadful infliction for those who were in any
way dependent upon her. She alone would justify all Darcy's
strictures upon the Bennet family, and what a thorn in the flesh she
must have been to Elizabeth! Yet she is never made an object of
satire. On the contrary, it is an exquisitely kind touch on Jane
Austen's part when her namesake, who has regained the laggard
Bingley, will not lose a moment before consoling her mother with
the glad news. Elizabeth, with less tenderness if equal affection,
thinks first of her father, when Darcy's suit is in question, and the
interview is one to be read with mixed feelings. In drawing the harebrained, vulgar, incontinent Lydia, Jane Austen seems at times to be
trembling on the verge of some personal resentment. Regarded less
indulgently, Lydia would be a terrible example of moral and mental
recklessness, and can be made to point the lesson which it is easy
to draw from this history, that education, discipline, and self-control
are all-important, and that parental Laodiceanism bears pernicious
fruits. Her father and mother are another Mr. and Mrs. Shandy. He
has cultivated impassivity as an antidote to his wife's shallow
effusiveness, and the attitude has set. Lizzie, the only member of
the family who inherits his sense of humour, comprehends him; to
his wife he is as inscrutable as Mr. Shandy was to his better half.
Sterne was one of the classic authors whom Jane Austen knew well
enough to quote from.

48
E A. Baker.
The Structure and form of the Novels
of Jane Austen's Novels
But, if her range was thus limited, within it she was supreme.
Absolutely sure of her material, undistracted by external interests,
she wrote with a singular freedom from uncertainty; and her novels
have, in consequence, an exactness of structure and a symmetry of
form which are to be found more often in French literature than in
English. Of this precision, Pride and Prejudice is an admirable
example. Here the plot is the chief interest; simple, but pervasive;
controlling every incident, but itself depending for its outcome upon
the development or revelation of the principal characters.
Surrounding these characters is the world of provincial folk which
Miss Austen handled brilliantlycynical Mr. Bennet and his fatuous
wife; Mary Bennet, the pedant, and Lydia, the flirt; Mr. Collins, the
type of pretentious conceit, and Sir William Lucas, of feeble dullness.
These "humours" Miss Austen develops chiefly through her
wonderful faculty for saying the thing appropriate to the character
at the moment.... Miss Austen's later stories, Mansfield Park and
Emma, are longer and slightly more elaborate than Pride and
Prejudice, but in them the essentials of her art are still the same: a
well-defined story, growing naturally out of the influence of
character on character, and developed in the midst of a society full
of the mild humours of provincial life.
Moody and Lovett.
Some of the Comic Elements in the Novel
The logic underlying this position is that in the long run good
breeding goes back to property and privilege, so that the genteel
principle need not be violated by a marriage with the poor. Elizabeth
Bennet (in Pride and Prejudice) is given a decided advantage over
the stiff and snobbish Mr. Darcy, who is brought so reluctantly to
propose marriage; her pride is justified by his lofty condescension;
yet the principle of gentility tells us he was essentially right in not
wishing to lower himself, and he can easily be forgiven when once
he comes to acknowledge that her personal worth makes her his
social equal. But while it lasts, his conflict of sentiments makes him
a very funny person. He is the ideal English gentleman as comedy
sees that type, honourable and sure of himself, dense and stiff, and
easily made a fool of. Broader comedy is provided by the cruder
snobbishness of Lady de Bourgh and the oily sycophantic
clergyman, Collins; and the plot is managed by misunderstandings
over matters of fact coming to reinforce the misunderstandings bred
by sensitiveness and pride.
J.W. Beach
The Portrayal of Mrs. Bennet and of Mr. Collins
The fool simple is soon exhausted; but when a collection of fixed
ideas is grafted upon him, he becomes a theme for endless
variations. Mrs. Bennet is one of this kind. She is no sooner
introduced than she is defined. She is "a woman of mean

49
understanding, little information, and uncertain temper". That
makes up the fool negative. Her positive qualities are these: "When
she was discontented, she fancied herself nervous. The business of
her life was to get her daughters married; its solace was visiting and
news." Her fixed ideas of the happiness of catching any young man
for any of her daughters, of the inequality of an entail which
prevented their succeeding to her husband's estate, and of her
weak nerves, make up the staple of her talk, always amusing
because never to the purpose. Another fool of the same novel is Mr.
Collins, somewhat of a caricature and, therefore, easier to analyze.
He has a mean understanding, and is a bore to boot; that is, he
esteems himself worthy to be always occupying a place in the notice
of those with whom he associates, and he thinks it incumbent upon
him always elaborately to explain his motives and his reasons. At
the same time, he has some sense of the necessity of humility and
lays claim to this virtue by always speaking of himself and his
belongings as "humble", and by the most expansive display of
humility towards his patrons, and towards any one of a rank above
his own. To his own personal claims he adds the official claim
derived from his being a rector in the Church of England, which
gives him occasion to obtrude his advice, always wrong in the
various vicissitudes of the tale. The contrast between his empty
head and heart and his fixed ideas constitutes the diversion of the
portrait. He is perfect when he expects a father to forgive his erring
daughter like a Christian, and never to speak to her again. Richard
Simpson.
"Pride and Prejudice": A Critical Assessment
The Characters
This novel tells the story of the gradual union of two people, one
held back by unconquerable pride and the other blinded by
prejudice. In spite of the thin plot, the interest is sustained
throughout the book. The characters are drawn with humour,
delicary, and an ultimate knowledge of men and women that Jane
Austen always shows.
Mr. Bennet, amiable and peace-loving, leaves to Mrs. Bennet, his
querulous, ambitious, and narrow-minded wife, the difficult task of
marrying off his five daughters. His daughter Elizabeth, though not
so beautiful as Jane, is the brightest and most attractive member of
the family. She has a lively disposition, frank, pleasing manners, and
a warm heart; and, though bitterly prejudiced against Mr. Darcy, the
wealthy, dignified hero, his excellent qualities and faithful devotion
win her at last, and she forgives the pride from which he stooped to
conquer her. Among the minor characters are George Wickham,
fascinating and unprincipled, who elopes with Lydia Bennet; Mr.
Bingley, Darcy's handsome friend who marries Jane Bennet; and Mr.
Collins, a small-souled, strait-laced clergyman. The scene is laid in

50
England in the countryside; and the characters are the ladies and
gentlemen Jane Austen describes so well in her novels.
The Author's Dramatic Power
In the sustained scenes between the more developed characters
where the dialogue is highly charged, Jane Austen shows dramatic
power of a high order. One of the best of these scenes is that
between Elizabeth Bennet and Lady Catherine de Bourgh, in which
Elizabeth, like a good swordsman, light on her feet and ever ready,
completely disarms her lumbering opponent.
Miss Bingley
As in Northanger Abbey, so in this novel, the subsidiary characters
tend to demonstrate further aspects of the main theme. Thus, we
have the theme of pride and its adjunct, flattery and sycophancy,
repeated in the characterization. Darcy's status and his pride attract
Miss Bingley who constantly flatters him and tries to ingratiate
herself with him. There is no possibility of her succeeding in her aim
of marrying him, and she lacks the shrewdness of a Lucy Steele in
such matters. She is frequently discomfited, and does not cause
Elizabeth any real unhappiness.
Lady Catherine
Lady Catherine de Bourgh is an extension of the Darcy pride to the
limits of caricature. She has all his pride of family and position plus
an unfailing sense of her own personal superiority. It is a sad
reflection on Lady Catherine's self-esteem that she requires and can
tolerate a flatterer so obvious as Mr. Collins who is an out-and-out
sycophant.
Mr. Collins
Mr. Collins's proposal to Elizabeth is in its way an early parody of Mr.
Darcys proposal. Mr. Collins, running through his reasons for
marriage, can find three good ones without ever mentioning
Elizabeth. And Mr. Darcy's proposal rests primarily on his sense of
her inferiority, of the obstacles provided by her situation in life and
by her family.
Mrs. Bennet, Mary, and Mr. Bennet
Mrs. Bennet is pure stupidity, and she develops a prejudice against
Mr. Darcy stronger and more blind than Elizabeth's. Mary is perhaps
the only comic character who is not a success; she proves to be a
source only of tedium, though Mr. Bennet's wit compensates us for
that tedium.
The Element of Caricature
Elizabeth is certainly attractive and convincing as a woman, and
Jane in her own way is equally convincing, but the comic characters
generally go too far towards caricature. And for this reason we often
have the feeling that the heroine is moving among a world of
grotesques who do not really convince us of their truth to life.
Reasons for the Popularity of this Novel
Pride and Prejudice is by far the most popular of all Jane Austen's
novels. Jane Austen said of it that it "is rather too light, and bright,
and sparkling; it wants shade"; and this is perhaps the reason for its

51
popularity. The precision and vivacity of style carry the reader
through the novel with ease and spirit; there is a sparkling life about
the characters and a freshness about the scenery which combine to
make this the gayest of Jane Austen's novels, in spite of deeper
overtones which emerge when Charlotte Lucas agrees to marry the
egregious Mr. Collins or when Lydia is discovered to have run off
with Mr. Wickham with no prospect of marriage. The speed and skill
with which the author moves into the story are remarkable:
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in
possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
The pace never falters, and even in that middle section of the book
when Mr. Bingley and company have left the neighbourhood
apparently for good, the plot continues to unfold with new and
arresting developments, each arising naturally out of the preceding
action and leading as naturally to the conclusion.
Craftsmanship
Structurally, the novel shows the highest degree of craftsmanship.
We begin with the Bennet family and their interest in the new tenant
of Netherfield Park; Jane and Mr. Bingley, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy,
come together (helped by Jane's illness) and, in the process,
produce the appropriate revelations of character from Miss Bingley
and others. The appearance of Mr. Wickham, who first claims
Elizabeth's attention, diversifies the picture and prepares the way
for developments which are to be so necessary to the later workingout of the plot. The ball at Netherfield Park helps to centre the
action and concentrates Elizabeth's dislike of Mr. Darcy as well as
providing a clue to Mr. Wickham's true character by making it clear
that he avoids the ball to escape a confrontation with Mr. Darcy.
Uptill now the characters have circled round each other in an almost
ballet movement: beautiful and kind-hearted Jane, witty and highspirited Elizabeth, charming Mr. Bingley, proud Mr. Darcy, gallant Mr.
Wickham, scheming Miss Bingley, not to mention foolish and
garrulous Mrs. Bennet and her self-defensively offensive husband.
Each reveals his or her character in conversation, helped out by an
occasional flashing forth by the author of a brief but pungent
descriptive remark.
The Problem of Marrying Off the Elder Bennet Girls
The problem posed in what might be called the first movement of
the novel is the marrying off of the elder Bennet girls. They have
beauty and intelligence, but inconsiderable fortune. Mrs. Bennet's
desire to have them married, though her
expression of that desire reveals the defects of her character in a
richly comic manner, is in itself both natural and laudable; for girls
of negligible fortune genteelly brought up must secure their men
while they may, or face a precarious shabby-genteel spinsterhood
with few opportunities of personal satisfaction or

52
social esteem. The problem as originally posed has its comic side,
but the arrival of Mr. Collins shows it in another light though he
himself is a highly comic figure.
Economic Security and Marriage
Mr. Collins is a kind of grotesque, who takes his place in the stately
ballet of social life in a surprisingly awkward manner. By his proposal
of marriage to Elizabeth (again, a richly comic incident in itself) he
points up another side of the marriage-seeking business; economic
security can be won at too great a cost. When Elizabeth's friend
Charlotte Lucas accepts Mr. Collins, we are for the first time made
fully aware of some of the ugly realities underlying the stately social
ballet. It is a dance on the sunlit grass, but some of the dancers at
least are in earnest, and if they do not secure a permanent partner
before the end of the day they will be alone for ever on the dark and
deserted lawn, or forced to find refuge in the pathless woods which
surround the trimly-kept grassy plot. Rather than face such a faterather, that is, than be left with no prospect of social or economic
security in an age when few means of earning an independent
livelihood were open to the daughters of gentlemen Charlotte
Lucas, an intelligent girl, marries the grotesque Mr. Collins. She
knows that it is her last chance, and she takes it deliberately,
weighing the future husband's intolerable character against the
security and social position he offers. Elizabeth is shocked, but Jane
Austen takes some pains to let her readers know how hopeless the
choice was, and how in fact Charlotte has chosen the lesser of two
evils.
The Re-introduction of Mr. Darcy
Elizabeth's visit to the Collinses after their marriage gives the author
her opportunity of clarifying this aspect of marriage and showing
how calmly and deliberately Charlotte makes a livable way of life
out of her situation a scene in which Jane Austen shows her
underlying compassionate awareness of the ordinariness of ordinary
life that both sets off and in a way enriches her sharp irony. With
skilful structural economy, she uses the same episode to reintroduce Mr. Darcy in connection with Mr. Collins's patroness, Lady
Catherine de Bourgh. The re-introduction, which gives Mr. Darcy an
opportunity to propose to Elizabeth and be refused, marks the
turning-point in the relationship of these two, for the refusal is
followed by Mr. Darcy's letter of explanation about Mr. Wickham, so
that from this point Mr. Darcy is in the ascendant and Mr. Wickham's
stock is steadily falling. It also marks the movement of Mr. Darcy
away from pride to a genuine awareness of values hitherto outside
his class-bound scheme of things, and a similar movement in
Elizabeth away from undue dependence on her own judgment and a
greater concession to the social view. For these two originally
represented the two extremes, each of which must be modified if
happiness is to be achieved the extreme of putting social position

53
and obligation before private feeling, and the extreme of depending
entirely on individual judgment rather than on the public or social
view. Happiness is achieved by the proper combination of character
and fortune. Society is kept going by its members continually
compromising between the individual impression and desire on the
one hand and public tradition and duty on the other. And the basis
of such a view, which underlies all Jane Austen's novels, is a clearly
apprehended moral vision.
A New Twist to the Plot
Elizabeth's visit to Derbyshire with the Gardiners is neatly contrived
to bring Mr. Darcy into the picture again, and in a still more
favourable light, but the interruption of the visit by news of Lydia's
elopement with Mr. Wickham gives the plot an effective new twist.
Mr. Wickham's past is itself so tied up with that of Mr. Darcy that,
instead of the elopement alienating Mr. Darcy from the Bennet
family (as Elizabeth fears), it gives him the opportunity of showing
his love for Elizabeth by using his influence to make Mr. Wickham
marry Lydia.
The Possible Fate of the Indiscreet or
Unfortunate Marriage-Seeker
At the same time the episode of the elopement gives us once again
a glimpse of the abyss that yawns for the indiscreet or unfortunate
marriage-seeker. The lot of the "fallen woman" in this kind of society
is indeed hopeless, and reckless or stupid playing of one's cards
might, as it almost did with Lydia, lead one to that final degradation.
It is significant that the shock of Lydia's behaviour forces Mr. Bennet
for once out of his mood of sardonic teasing into genuine suffering
and self-reproach.
The Development in the Character of Elizabeth
and of Mr. Darcy
The tying up of the action, with the cunning use of Lady Catherine
de Bourgh's offensive intrusion into Elizabeth's affairs to produce a
result exactly the reverse of what she intended, could not be more
neatly done. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy have each discovered
themselves and each other in their loss of pride and prejudice, while
the other characters (who, unlike these two, achieve no real
development) settle back into their accustomed modes of
behaviour, symbolized by Mr. Bennet's remarking, after giving his
consent to Elizabeth's marriage with Mr. Darcy so soon after having
done the same for Jane and Bingley: "If any young men come for
Mary or Kitty, send them in, for I am quite at leisure." And, a little
later on: "I admire all my sons-in-law highly", said he. "Wickham,
perhaps, is my favourite; but I think I shall like your husband quite
as well and Jane's".
A Disastrous Marriage
The characters of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet illustrate clearly how Jane
Austen could use comic characterization to reveal a marital situation
which, if fully explored, would show its tragic aspect. Mr. Bennet had
been captivated by a pretty face, and the resulting marriage tied

54
him to a foolish and vulgar woman for the rest of his life. Mrs.
Bennet, in the genteel world where eligible marriages are young
ladies' chief objectives, had succeeded in her aim, using her good
looks while she had them. The result was disastrous to Mr. Bennet's
character: he was forced into an unnatural isolation from his family,
into virtual retirement in his study, and the cultivation of a bitter
amusement at his wife's folly and vulgarity. He, thus, as is made
clear in the latter part of the novel, in some degree abdicated his
role as husband and father, with Lydia's behaviour as one of the
results. He is shocked into momentary self-reproach in talking to
Elizabeth after Lydia's escapade, but he only really lifts the mask
once, in discussing with Elizabeth her engagement to Mr. Darcy: "My
child, let me not have the grief of seeing you unable to respect your
partner in life".
Jane Austen's Attitude to the Class Structure of her Time
In the gradual unfolding of the truth about Mr. Darcy's character, the
revelation of his goodness to his tenants and in general of his
playing the part of the land-owner who understands the social
duties that ownership implies (we see this in the housekeeper's talk
to Elizabeth and her aunt and uncle at Pemberley) represents a
crucial stage. Jane Austen had a strong sense of class duty and a
contempt for any claims for superiority based merely on noble birth
or social snobbery. Lady Catherine de Bourgh is a monstrous
caricature of Mr. Darcy; she represents pride without intelligence,
moral understanding, or understanding of the obligations conferred
by rank. Jane Austen of course accepts the class structure of English
society as she knew it; but she accepts it as a type of human society
in which privilege implies duty. Her view of life is both moral and
hierarchical. But it is far from snobbish, if by snobbery we mean the
admiration of rank or social position as such.
Saturday, November 6, 2010

"Pride and Prejudice": the Story of the Novel


in Brief
Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, and their Five Daughters
Mr. and Mrs. Bennet live in the village of Longbourn which is situated
in the County of Hertfordshire. They have five daughters Jane,
Elizabeth, Mary, Catherine (or Kitty), and Lydia. The youngest is
fifteen years old. Mrs. Bennet's chief desire in life is to see all her
daughters suitably married and happily settled. In fact, the
marriages of her daughters have become an obsession with her.
Mrs. Bennet's Expectation
A rich young man by the name of Mr. Charles Bingley takes a
palatial house called Netherfield Park on rent. This country house is
situated at a distance of about three miles from the village of
Longbourn. Mr. Bingley begins to live in this house with his sister,
Caroline Bingley, as his housekeeper. He has a friend by the name of
Mr. Darcy who joins him at Netherfield Park for a short stay, but

55
continues to stay there for a couple of months. Mrs. Hurst, a married
sister of Mr. Bingley, also comes with her husband to stay at
Netherfield Park. Mrs. Bennet feels very glad to know that the new
occupant of Netherfield Park is a rich bachelor. She tells her husband
that there is every possibility that Mr. Bingley would choose one of
their daughters as his would-be wife. Mr. Bennet does not share his
wife's enthusiasm though he too would like Mr. Bingley to choose
one of his daughters as his future wife. As Mrs. Bennet is a woman
of a mean intelligence, and as her talk is very often foolish, Mr.
Bennet has got into the habit of making sarcastic remarks to her
and about her. In other words, he often pokes fun at her.
Mr. Darcy, a Very Proud Man; Elizabeth's Prejudice against
Him
An assembly is held periodically in the town of Meryton which is
situated at a distance of about one mile from Longbourn. This
assembly is a kind of social gathering which is attended by all the
respectable families of the town and the neighbouring villages. At
the first assembly, which is attended by Mr. Bingley and the other
inmates of Netherfield Park, Mr. Bingley feels greatly attracted by
Jane Bennet who is the prettiest of the Bennet sisters. He asks Jane
for a dance, and she gladly accepts his request. In fact, he dances
with her a second time also. Mr. Bingley suggests to his friend Mr.
Darcy that the latter should not stand idle but should dance. He
suggests that Mr. Darcy that should dance with Elizabeth Bennet
who is sitting nearby. Mr. Darcy, however, replies that this girl is not
attractive enough to tempt him to dance with her. Elizabeth
overhears this remark and conceives a dislike for the man who has
made such a disparaging remark about her in her hearing. In fact,
from this time onwards, she becomes prejudiced against him. Mr.
Darcy, on his part, is a very proud man. Like Mr. Bingley, Mr. Darcy is
also a very rich and handsome bachelor. Any girl in this
neighbourhood would be glad to marry him, but his pride is a most
disagreeable trait of his character. Mrs. Bennet describes him to her
husband as a haughty and horrid man. In fact, everybody at the
assembly finds him to be too proud.
Mr. Bingley, Expected to Propose Marriage to Jane
Mr. Bingley's preference for Jane Bennet is noticed by everybody at
the assembly. In fact, both Mr. Bingley and Jane have felt mutually
attracted by each other. Mr. Bingley's two sisters, Miss Bingley and
Mrs. Hurst, also develop a liking for Jane. In fact, Miss Bingley invites
Jane to dinner at Netherfield Park; and the Bennet family considers
this invitation to be a great honour and also a golden opportunity for
Jane. Jane goes to Netherfield Park but catches cold on the way
because it has been raining. The consequence of her indisposition is
that she has to stay on at Netherfield Park for about a week during
which Elizabeth also joins her in order to attend upon her. The
intimacy between Jane and Mr. Bingley's sisters now increases; and
both Jane and Elizabeth begin to think that Mr. Bingley would surely
propose marriage to Jane soon. However, Miss Bingley does not feel

56
any liking for Elizabeth. In fact, Miss Bingley begins to feel jealous of
Elizabeth.
A Change in Mr. Darcy's Attitude to Elizabeth
In the meantime, Mr. Darcy's attitude towards Elizabeth changes. On
a closer acquaintance with her, he finds that there is, after all, a
good deal of charm about this girl. She has a very intelligent face;
and she has dark eyes which add to the charm of her countenance.
She also has a pleasing figure and a lively temperament. Mr. Darcy
begins actually to like this girl of whom he had originally
disapproved even for the purpose of dancing. Miss Bingley begins to
dislike Elizabeth all the more because she finds Mr. Darcy feeling
inclined towards her (Elizabeth). Miss Bingley wants Mr. Darcy for
herself. In other words, she hopes that Mr. Darcy might marry her;
and therefore Miss Bingley would not like any other girl to catch Mr.
Darcy's fancy and thus to come in her way. It is during Elizabeth's
enforced stay with her sister Jane at Netherfield Park that Mr. Darcy
gets the opportunity to know Elizabeth better. Elizabeth takes an
active part in the conversations which takes place between Mr.
Darcy and Mr. Bingley, with Miss Bingley participating in those
conversations.
Miss Charlotte Lucas, the Daughter of Sir William Lucas
Within a walking distance of Longbourn, there lives a family which is
on visiting terms with the Bennet family. The head of that family is
Sir William Lucas, and he lives in a house, which he has named
"Lucas Lodge", with his wife and several children, the eldest of
whom is Charlotte Lucas, aged twenty-seven years. Charlotte is a
great friend of Elizabeth; and they always talk to each other frankly.
Charlotte expresses to Elizabeth her view that Mr. Bingley has felt
greatly attracted by Jane and might marry her if Jane encourages
him and reciprocates his interest in her. Elizabeth agrees with this
view.
Elizabeth's Continuing Prejudice;
and Darcy's Continuing Pride
Elizabeth finds herself no closer to Mr. Darcy. If anything, the rift
between them has become wider. Mr. Darcy would certainly like to
marry Elizabeth but he finds that she belongs to a much lower
status than he does, and he, therefore, finds it most improper on his
part to marry a girl of that status. Elizabeth continues to harbour her
original prejudice against Mr. Darcy, and therefore, does not show
any special attention to him. In fact, in the course of a conversation,
Elizabeth says to him that he has a strong tendency to hate
everybody, while he says in reply that she has a strong tendency
deliberately to misunderstand everybody.
Mr. Collins's Proposal of Marriage, Rejected by Elizabeth
Mr. Collins now appears on the scene at Longbourn. He is a cousin of
Mr. Bennet; and he is the man to whom Mr. Bennet's whole property
is entailed. On Mr. Bennet's death, Mr. Collins would inherit all Mr.
Bennet's property because Mr. Bennet has no male issue. On Mr.
Bennet's death, therefore, Mrs. Bennet and her daughters would find

57
themselves impoverished. Mr. Collins comes on a visit to the Bennet
family, his intention being to choose one of the Bennet sisters and
propose marriage to her. As Jane is expected by everybody to marry
Mr. Bingley, Mr. Collins makes a proposal of marriage to Elizabeth.
Elizabeth, however, has found Mr. Collins to be an oddity, that is, a
queer kind of man. Mr. Collins speaks a good deal about his
patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh who has been kind enough to
him to confer a living upon him and to appoint him the rector at
Hunsford. The manner in which he talks about Lady Catherine shows
him to be an accomplished flatterer. At the same time, he has too
high an opinion of himself. Elizabeth, therefore, rejects Mr. Collins's
proposal without the least hesitation. Mr. Collins makes his proposal
of marriage a second time, but Elizabeth refuses again, this time
even more firmly. Elizabeth is privately supported in her decision by
her father though she is scolded by her mother for her failure to
avail this opportunity of getting a husband. Mr. Collins now leaves
Longbourn and returns to his parsonage at Hunsford.
Elizabeth's Prejudice, Deepened by
Mr. Wickham's Account
Another character now enters the story. He is Mr. George Wickham,
an officer in the militia regiment which is stationed near the town of
Meryton. Mr. Wickham and Mr. Darcy had known each other in their
boyhood because Mr. Wickham's father was the steward to Mr.
Darcy's father. Mr. Wickham has certain grievances against Mr.
Darcy, though these grievances are baseless and show only Mr.
Wickham's ill-will towards Mr. Darcy. In the course of a social
gathering, Mr. Wickham gets acquainted with Elizabeth and tells her
his grievances against Mr. Darcy, emphasizing the fact that Mr.
Darcy is a very proud man. Elizabeth develops a liking for Mr.
Wickham who is a very handsome man and whose talk is very
interesting. In fact, she fancies herself as being in love with Mr.
Wickham. If Mr. Wickham were to propose marriage to her, she
would probably have accepted the proposal. In any case, she now
feels further prejudiced against Mr. Darcy because of Mr. Wickham's
tale of injustices and wrongs which, according to his account, he has
suffered at Mr. Darcy's hands. At a ball which Mr. Bingley has
arranged at Netherfield Park, Elizabeth is told both by Mr. Bingley
and Miss Bingley that Mr. Wickham is an undesirable man, and that
he seems to have told many lies to her about Mr. Darcy; but
Elizabeth is not convinced by what she is told by these persons. She
cannot believe that Mr. Wickham could have told any lies. In this, of
course, she is badly deceived because later she will discover the
reality of this man.
Mr. Collins, Married to Miss Charlotte Lucas
Mr. Collins visits Longbourn again. Having come into contact with
Miss Charlotte Lucas, he decides to propose marriage to her. He is
very anxious to get married because Lady Catherine has been
pressing him to get married, and also because he thinks that a
clergyman should set an example of marriage to his parishioners. So

58
he proposes marriage to Miss Charlotte Lucas who is only too
pleased by this proposal because, having already attained the age
of twenty-seven, she is very keen to get married at the earliest
opportunity. And thus Mr. Collins and Miss Charlotte Lucas get
married. Mr. Collins takes his newly wedded wife to the parsonage at
Hunsford where Lady Catherine is quite pleased to meet the rector's
wife.
A Setback to Jane's Hope of Marrying Mr. Bingley
Instead of receiving a proposal of marriage from Mr. Bingley, Jane
now receives a letter from Miss Bingley informing her that all the
inmates of Netherfield Park are leaving for London. This piece of
information comes as a great blow to Jane's hopes. Then Miss
Bingley writes another letter to Jane, this time from London. Miss
Bingley, through this letter, informs Jane that Miss Bingley and the
others might not return to Netherfield Park during the whole of the
coming winter. Furthermore, Miss Bingley informs Jane that Mr.
Bingley is thinking of marrying Mr. Darcy's sister, Georgiana, who is
a very beautiful and highly accomplished girl. Thus, Jane finds that
her hopes of marrying Mr. Bingley have been dashed to the ground.
Elizabeth, on learning from Jane the contents of Miss Bingley's
second letter, feels as disappointed and distressed as Jane herself.
Elizabeth is deeply attached to Jane; and therefore, she fully shares
all Jane's anxieties and Jane's joys.
Elizabeth's Visit to Hunsford
Elizabeth now pays a visit to Charlotte at Hunsford. She goes there
in the company of Charlotte's father, Sir William Lucas, and
Charlotte's younger sister, Maria. Charlotte introduces her friend
and her relatives to Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Lady Catherine is a
very proud woman who takes every opportunity to impress upon
others the fact that she is socially superior to them. Lady Catherine
invites them all to dinner at her house which has the name of
"Rosings Park" and which is a splendid mansion, splendidly
furnished. Sir William and Maria are deeply impressed and awed by
the splendour around them; but Elizabeth remains calm and
composed.
Elizabeth's Rejection of Mr. Darcy's Proposal of Marriage
A new development now takes place. Mr. Darcy, accompanied by a
cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, comes on a brief visit to Lady Catherine
who is Mr. Darcy's and Colonel Fitswilliam's aunt. And now the stage
is set for another meeting between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth. At a
party which is held by Lady Catherine at her house, Elizabeth plays
on the piano and also has much conversation with Colonel
Fitzwilliam who impresses her as a very nice kind of man. Mr. Darcy
and Colonel Fitzwilliam now begin to call at the parsonage daily to
meet the inmates. However, Mr. Darcy's chief interest in paying
these visits is to meet Elizabeth. Actually, Mr. Darcy is now more in
love with Elizabeth than he had been before. And so one day he
makes a proposal of marriage to her. However, in the course of
making this proposal, he emphasizes her social inferiority to him,

59
and he makes her conscious of the fact that he is doing her a favour
by proposing marriage to her. As a self-respecting girl, Elizabeth
does not like the condescending and patronizing tone in which Mr.
Darcy proposes marriage to her. She, therefore, declines his
proposal. But she gives two other reasons also for her refusal. One is
that Mr. Darcy had been unjust and cruel to Mr. Wickham; and the
other is that Mr. Darcy had advised Mr. Bingley not to marry Jane.
The information about Mr. Darcy's having obstructed Mr. Bingley's
proposal of marriage to Jane has been given to Elizabeth by Colonel
Fitzwilliam who, however, is not himself aware of the exact
particulars regarding Mr. Darcy's intervention in Mr. Bingley's plans
of marriage. Elizabeth has been able to infer the correct situation
from Colonel Fitzwilliam's talk.
Mr. Darcy's Defence Against Elizabeth's Charges
On the following day Mr. Darcy hands over a letter to Elizabeth. On
going through the letter, Elizabeth is filled with astonishment. This
letter contains Mr. Darcy's defence of himself against the charges
which Elizabeth had levelled against him on the previous day. In this
letter Mr. Darcy states the true facts about Mr. Wickham, exposing
that man as a most unreliable fellow and a rogue. In this letter he
also admits that he had prevented Mr. Bingley from proposing
marriage to Jane but he defends himself by saying that he had done
so under a genuine belief that Jane was not really in love with Mr.
Bingley. This letter produces a deep effect on Elizabeth. In fact, her
reading through this letter marks a turning-point in her attitude
towards Mr. Darcy. She begins to think that she had been totally
wrong in her judgment of Mr. Darcy's character and also that she
had been grossly mistaken in having relied upon Mr. Wickham's
account of his relations with Mr. Darcy. At the same time, Elizabeth
finds that Mr. Darcy's letter, though containing a defence of himself,
is written in a tone which is insolent and haughty. Thus, Mr. Darcy's
pride still remains intact, though Elizabeth's prejudice has begun to
crumble.
No Development in the Jane-Bingley Affair
Mr. Darcy leaves Rosings Park for London before Elizabeth can take
any action on the letter which he had handed over to her. After a
few days she herself leaves Hunsford for Longbourn. On her way
home, she stops in London for a day with her uncle and aunt Mr. and
Mrs. Gardiner with whom Jane has already been staying for the past
three months. Although Jane had been staying in London for such a
long period, she had not been able to meet Mr. Bingley who also
lives there. Jane had during this period called on Miss Bingley but
even she had shown some indifference to Jane. This creates an
impression in Jane's mind that perhaps she is now permanently
alienated from Mr. Bingley whom, at one time, she had hoped to
marry. Both sisters now return home. Elizabeth informs Jane of what
had passed between Mr. Darcy and herself. She also tells Jane of Mr.
Wickham's real character as revealed in Mr. Darcy's letter to her.

60
Jane feels shocked to know that such a handsome and smart man as
Mr. Wickham possesses a wicked heart.
Lydia, Invited by Mrs. Forster to Brighton
The militia regiment stationed near the town of Meryton is now
shifted from there to a site near the city of Brighton. Lydia feels very
depressed because she would no longer be able to mingle with the
officers of that regiment and would therefore not be able to lead a
gay life. However, Mrs. Forster, the wife of the colonel of that
regiment invites Lydia to accompany her to Brighton. Lydia feels
delighted by Mrs. Forster's invitation because, by going to Brighton,
she can continue her contacts with the officers. Elizabeth privately
urges her father not to allow Lydia to go to Brighton because she is
already a spoilt girl and might go astray if she gets too much
freedom. Her father, however, does not wish to stop Lydia from
going thither.
An Unexpected Meeting between Elizabeth
and Mr. Darcy
Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner come to Longbourn on their way to Derbyshire
whither they intend to go on a pleasure trip. They would leave their
two children with the Bennet family, and themselves proceed to
Derbyshire. They had previously arranged with Elizabeth that she
would also accompany them on their trip. Originally, they had
wanted to go to the Lake district, but subsequently they had
changed their minds. In any case, Elizabeth now goes with them. On
the way they visit Pemberley House which is tourist attraction.
Pemberley House is a splendid mansion and belongs to Mr. Darcy.
When going round this great country house, they happen to meet
Mr. Darcy himself. Mr. Darcy was not expected at the house till the
following day when he was to arrive here from London; but he has
come a day earlier because of a change in his schedule. Mr. Darcy
greets Elizabeth most cordially and shows a lot of courtesy to her
uncle and aunt. There is not the least touch of arrogance in Mr.
Darcy's attitude at this time. Both Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner get the
feeling that Mr. Darcy is in love with Elizabeth. On the next day, Mr.
Darcy calls on Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner and Elizabeth at the inn where
they are staying in the nearby town of Lambton. He brings his sister
Georgiana with him. This visit further strengthens Mr. and Mrs.
Gardiner's belief that Mr. Darcy is in love with Elizabeth. Elizabeth
too gets the same impression. In response to Mr. Darcy's visit, Mr.
and Mrs. Gardiner, accompanied by Elizabeth, call at Pemberley
House where Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst are also present, having
come from London.
The News of Lydia's Elopement with Mr. Wickham
Now Elizabeth has also begun to feel attracted towards Mr. Darcy.
This attraction had begun at Hunsford after Elizabeth had gone
through Mr. Darcy's letter. It is now quite likely that Mr. Darcy would
renew his proposal of marriage to Elizabeth. But an unexpected
event occurs to disturb the peace of the Bennet family. Colonel
Forster informs Mr. Bennet by an express letter that Lydia, who was

61
staying with Mrs. Forster in Brighton, had eloped with Mr. Wickham
whom she had been meeting frequently. When Elizabeth learns this
sad news from a letter written to her by Jane, she tells her uncle and
aunt that she must get back home to provide whatever comfort she
can to her parents in this crisis. She also tells Mr. Darcy of what has
happened.
Elizabeth, Back at Longbourn
Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner now cut short their holiday and return with
Elizabeth to Longbourn. Mrs. Bennet is almost crazy with grief at
Lydia's misconduct and at the disgrace which Lydia has brought to
the family. Mr. Bennet has gone to London in order to trace the
runaway lovers. Mr. Gardiner now also proceeds to London in order
to help Mr. Bennet in his efforts to trace Lydia. After a few days Mr.
Bennet returns to Longbourn, having failed in his efforts to trace
Lydia or Mr. Wickham. Mrs. Gardiner now leaves Longbourn with her
children, and joins her husband in London where they have their
home. Mr. Bennet feels most repentant of his having always
indulged Lydia's desires and whims.
Lydia, Married to Mr. Wickham,
Through Dairy's Intervention
After a few days, a letter is received by Mr. Bennet from Mr.
Gardiner. According to the information contained in this letter, Mr.
Wickham and Lydia have been traced and are staying in London
without having got married. Mr. Wickham has said that he would
marry Lydia only on certain conditions. These conditions include the
payment of a certain amount of money to him. At the same time,
Mr. Gardiner has informed Mr. Bennet that everything is being
settled with Mr. Wickham and that Mr. Bennet should not worry
about the welfare of Lydia. A marriage duly takes place after Mr.
Wickham's demand for money has been met. The Bennet family
gets the impression that the money has been paid by Mr. Gardiner.
But Elizabeth soon learns from her aunt, Mrs. Gardiner, that the
whole settlement had been arrived at by the intervention of Mr.
Darcy, and that the entire money had been paid by Mr. Darcy
himself. This information produces a profound effect upon Elizabeth
regarding the character of Mr. Darcy who has done a great service
and a great favour to the Bennet family by saving the good name of
the family. But for Mr. Darcy's intervention, Mr. Wickham would
never have married Lydia but would have forsaken her. Lydia would
in that case have been a deserted girl with a shameful past.
Mr. Bingley's Proposal of Marriage to Jane
A change now takes place in Mr. Bingley. This change is as sudden
as the change which had been responsible for his having given up
his intention to marry Jane. Accompanied by Mr. Darcy, he now goes
to Netherfield Park and gets into touch with the Bennet family. He
makes a proposal of marriage to Jane which she most gladly
accepts.
Elizabeth's Acceptance of Darcy's
New Proposal of Marriage

62
Lady Catherine de Bourgh now pays a visit to Longbourn and has a
private interview with Elizabeth. She warns Elizabeth not to agree to
marry Mr. Darcy in case he makes a proposal of marriage to her.
Lady Catherine says that Mr. Darcy has to marry her own daughter,
Miss Ann de Bourgh, and that Elizabeth should, therefore, not come
in the way. Elizabeth, however, refuses to give Lady Catherine any
promise in this connection. After a few days, Mr. Darcy comes to
Longbourn and proposes marriage to Elizabeth. By this time
Elizabeth's attitude towards Mr. Darcy has undergone a complete
change. All her prejudices against him have disappeared. She now
feels that he would be the right kind of husband for her. She,
therefore, accepts his proposal without the least demur or
hesitation. Thus, Mr. Darcy whose pride has by now completely
melted away, and Elizabeth whose prejudices have completely
disappeared, are united in wedlock. In fact, the marriage of Mr.
Darcy and Elizabeth takes place on the same day as the marriage of
Mr. Bingley and Jane.
Saturday, November 6, 2010

Persons and Places in "Pride and Prejudice"


PERSONS: THE MEN
1. Mr. Bennet
He is the head of the Bennet family living in the village of Longbourn
in the County of Hertfordshire. He is described by the novelist as an
odd mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, reserve, and caprice.
Of the five daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, Elizabeth is Mr.
Bennet's favourite. Mr. Bennet's favourite pastime is to poke fun at
his wife whom he has found to be a very ignorant and foolish
woman.
2. Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy
He is a very rich young man and a close friend of Mr. Charles Bingley
who comes to occupy Netherfield Park. He falls in love with Elizabeth
Bennet, though in the beginning he forms a rather unfavourable
impression about her physical appearance. His most striking trait is
pride which renders him a most unpleasant and disagreeable man in
the entire social circle in which he moves. However, he is cured of
this defect of pride by Elizabeth whom he eventually marries. (The
name "Fitzwilliam" is common to both Mr. Darcy and his cousin
Colonel Fitzwilliam who appears much later in the story).
3. Mr. Charles Bingley
He is also a rich young man. He takes the palatial house called
Netherfield Park on rent and begins to live there, with his sister Miss
Bingley as his housekeeper. He falls in love with Jane Bennet at his
very first meeting with her, and she fully responds to his love. After
a setback to the development of his love-affair, he does ultimately
succeed in marrying this girl.
4. Mr. William Collins

63
He is a clergyman, and the rector of the parish of Hunsford. He is
the man to whom the entire property of Mr. Bennet is entailed
because Mr. Bennet has no male issue. He is a very pompous and
conceited man but, at the same time, a great flatterer. After having
been rejected by Elizabeth, he marries Miss Charlotte Lucas.
5. Mr. George Wickham
He is a young and handsome officer in the militia regiment which is
at first stationed near the town of Meryton and subsequently shifted
to a site near the town of Brighton. He is a crooked fellow who
manages to create a favourable impression upon Elizabeth in the
beginning. Eventually he elopes with Mr. Bennet's youngest
daughter, Lydia, but marries her only after certain conditions laid
down by him have been fulfilled. He may be described as the villain
in the story.
6. Mr. Denny
He too is an officer in the militia regiment referred to above. He is a
friend of Mr. Wickham; and he is the man who supplies some useful
information about Mr. Wickham's nature and plans.
7. Colonel Fitzwilliam
He is a cousin of Mr. Darcy. The name "Fitzwilliam", which is common
to both these men, should not confuse us regarding the separate
identity of each. It is from her talk with this man that Elizabeth
obtains the information that it was Mr. Darcy who had initially
obstructed Mr. Bingley's marriage to her sister Jane.
8. Sir William Lucas
He was at first a businessman in the town of Meryton; but, having
been knighted, he gave up both his business and his residence in
Meryton, and shifted to a cottage in the countryside, with his whole
family consisting of his wife and several children, among them
Charlotte and Maria. He is constantly occupied with a sense of his
own importance, but he never fails to show the utmost courtesy to
all those with whom he comes into contact.
9. Mr. Gardiner
He is a brother of Mrs. Bennet's. He is living in London with his wife
and is a respectable trader. He is a very decent and dignified man,
unlike his sister, Mrs. Bennet, and also unlike his other sister, Mrs.
Philips.
10. Colonel Forster
He is the colonel of the militia regiment in which Mr. Wickham and
Mr. Denny are commissioned officers. He feels greatly perturbed on
being informed that Lydia Bennet has eloped with Mr. Wickham; and
he tries his utmost to trace the runaways.
11. Mr. Hurst
He is the husband of one of Mr. Bingley's sisters. He is described as
a man who is interested only in eating, drinking, and sleeping. He is
thus a comic character.
12. Mr. Philips
He is the husband of Mrs. Bennet's sister, and therefore a brother-inlaw of Mr. Bennet. Mr. Philips had originally been a clerk to Mrs.

64
Bennet's father, but had taken over the business at the death of his
employer. He hardly plays any role in the novel, but he does have
social contacts with the officers of the militia regiment and often
invites them to dinner at his residence in Meryton.
PERSONS: THE WOMEN
1. Mrs. Bennet
She is the wife of Mr. Bennet, and the mother of five daughters. She
is one of the well-known comic characters in English fiction. The
marriages of her daughters are an obsession with her.
2. Miss Jane Bennet
She is the eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. She falls in love
with Mr. Bingley and, after a setback to her love-affair with him,
ultimately gets married to him.
3. Miss Elizabeth Bennet
She may be regarded as the heroine of the novel. She is the second
daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. It is because of one of the marked
tendencies of her nature that the word "prejudice" occurs in the title
of the novel. She eventually marries Mr. Darcy whom she initially
dislikes and afterwards hates. She consents to marry him when his
pride has melted away and when her own prejudice against him has
disappeared.
4. Miss Mary Bennet
She is the third daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. She is a studious
girl, though not very intelligent. She is a half-pathetic and half-comic
figure.
5. Miss Catherine (Kitty) Bennet
She is the fourth daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. She is excessively
interested in the officers of the militia regiment stationed near the
town of Meryton. She is a silly girl. Mary and Kitty are the only
daughters of the Bennet family who remain unmarried throughout
the novel.
6. Miss Lydia Bennet
She is the youngest of the Bennet girls. She too is interested very
much in the militia officers and, in fact, encourages Kitty in the
same direction. She loves a gay life and subsequently elopes with
Mr. Wickham with whom she has fallen in love. Mr. Wickham does
marry her ultimately, though not without making a good deal of
fuss.
7. Miss Caroline Bingley
She is the unmarried sister of Mr. Charles Bingley, and she keeps the
house for him when he occupies Netherfield Park. She is interested
in marrying Mr. Darcy who, however, pays little attention to her. She
is a malicious girl who is always scheming against Elizabeth because
of Mr. Darcy's liking for her (Elizabeth).
8. Mrs. Hurst
She is the married sister of Mr. Charles Bingley, and she too lives at
Netherfield Park with her husband. She has no independence of
mind and is constantly echoing the opinions and views of her sister,
Miss Bingley.

65
9. Lady Lucas
She is the wife of Sir William Lucas. She is described as a good kind
of woman. Being a neighbour of Mrs. Bennet, she is on visiting terms
with her.
10. Mrs. Charlotte Lucas
She is the eldest daughter of Sir William and Lady Lucas. She agrees
to marry Mr. Collins after he has been rejected by Elizabeth Bennet.
As Mr. Collins's wife, she begins to live at Hunsford where Mr. Collins
is the rector of the parish.
11. Mrs. Philips
She is a sister of Mrs. Bennet, and is as talkative and vulgar as Mrs.
Bennet. She lives in the town of Meryton and receives frequent visits
from her nieces, particularly from Kitty and Lydia who come to her to
gather information about the officers of the militia regiment.
12. Mrs. Reynolds
She is the housekeeper at Pemberley House of which Mr. Darcy is
the owner. She is full of praise for her employer, Mr. Darcy.
13. Lady Catherine de Bourgh
She is a widow lady owning a large estate and a country house
called Rosings Park where she lives with her daughter. She is a very
proud and arrogant kind of woman.
14. Miss Ann de Bourgh
She is the daughter of Lady Catherine. She is a pale, sickly girl who
is half-pathetic and half-comic.
15. Mrs. Jenkinson
She is the governess to Miss de Bourgh. Her chiel responsibility
therefore is to take good care of that girl who, being sickly, requires
special attention.
16. Miss Georgiana Darcy
She is the sister of Mr. Darcy and the special responsibility of that
young man. She is under the joint guardianship of Mr. Darcy and
Colonel Fitzwilliam.
17. Mrs. Forster
She is the wife of Colonel Forster. It is she who invites Lydia Bennet
to stay with her at Brighton; and it is from Brighton that Lydia elopes
with Mr. Wickham.
18. Mrs. Gardiner
She is the wife of Mr. Gardiner and, therefore, Mrs. Bennet's sisterin-law. She is a well-wisher of the Bennet family, and she has a great
affection for all her nieces, particularly for Elizabeth. It is in her and
her husband's company that Elizabeth goes to Derbyshire and visits
Pemberley House.
PLACES IN THE NOVEL
1. Herfordshire, Kent, and Derbyshire
These are the names of English Counties. (A County is the name
used for a division of England for purposes of local government. The
word "shire" means the same thing). England is divided into about
forty Counties of which the best-known are Norfolk, Warwickshire,
Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Kent, and Hertfordshire.

66
2. Meryton
The name of a town in the County of Hertfordshire. Here live Mr. and
Mrs. Philips; and here also lived Sir William Lucas with his family at
one time.
3. Longbourn
The name of a village in the County of Derbyshire. This village is
situated at a distance of one mile from the town of Meryton. The
name "Longbourn" is also used in the novel for the house in which
the Bennet family lives.
4. Lucas Lodge
The name given by Sir Lucas to his house in the country. Lucas
Lodge is also situated at a distance of a mile from the town of
Meryton. This house is within a walking distance of Longbourn. That
is why the Bennet and the Lucas families are on intimate terms with
each other.
5. Netherfield Park
The name of a palatial house which is taken by Mr. Charles Bingley
on rent, and where he begins to live, with his sister Miss Bingley as
his housekeeper. Mr. and Mrs. Hurst also begin to live there, while
Mr. Darcy is a frequent visitor at this house. Netherfield Park is
situated at a distance of three miles from Longbourn which is the
residence of the Bennet family.
6. Hunsford
The name of a village in the County of Kent. Here lives Mr. Collins,
the rector, in his parsonage. Charlotte also begins to live here after
getting married to Mr. Collins. Close by is the residence of Lady
Catherine deBourgh. It is at Hunsford that Mr. Darcy first proposes
marriage to Elizabeth and is rejected by her.
7. Lambton
The name of a town in the County of Derbyshire. To this town, come
Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner in the company of Elizabeth to spend their
holidays.
8. Pemberley House
The name of the country residence of Mr. Darcy and his sister
Georgiana. This palatial building, famous as a tourist attraction, is
situated close to the town of Lambton.
9. Gretna Green
The name of a town in Scotland, It is barely mentioned in the novel.
This was a place which, in those days, served as a refuge for
runaway lovers who could get married there without a licence and
without having to undergo the usual formalities.
10. Brighton
The name of a famous English city. It is a health and holiday resort.
It is from here that Lydia runs away with Mr. Wickham.
Note: The word "assembly" occurs several times in the novel. It is
used here to mean an informal social gathering at which people
belonging to the same neighbourhood gather for gossip and
dancing. Similarly, the word "ball" is also used a number of times in
the novel. It means a dance in which couples participate. At a ball, a

67
man has to choose a woman as his partner. She may agree to dance
with him or may politely refuse. A man may have arranged a partner
for himself in advance, in which case the lady concerned has to
keep her commitment.
Note: The word "entail" also needs to be explained. The whole
property of Mr. Bennet is entailed to Mr. Collins who is a cousin of Mr.
Bennet. Mr. Bennet has five daughters but no son. According to the
laws of the time, girls could not inherit the property or estate of
their fathers. In the 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. Collins at Mr. Bennet's death. Mr.
Bennet's daughters would thus get nothing at their father's death.
Even Mr. Bennet's wife would get nothing from his property.

The Salient Features of Jane Austen's Fiction


Not Among the Greatest of the Novelists
Jane Austen occupies a high rank among English novelists, though
she is certainly not one of the greatest of them. Her chief
characteristics as a novelist are as follows:
A Realist
She is a realist who draws her materials from actual life as she sees
it. Her stories are perfectly credible and convincing. There is nothing
fantastic, fanciful, or far-fetched in them. She depicts the social life
of her time and is thus a practitioner of the domestic novel or the
novel of manners. Realism is the keynote of her novels whether they
are considered from the point of view of story, characters, or
setting.
Matrimony, Her Principal Theme
The principal theme of her novels is matrimony. She is pre-occupied
with the business of making matches for her heroines. Generally,
the heroine, after a few false starts, meets the right man, and a
series of misunderstandings and frustrations occur to delay but
never to prevent their union. Morning calls, dinner parties, dances,
shopping expeditions, weddings, etc., are the principal ingredients
of her stories.
Her Humour and Irony
Jane Austen is a humorist whose favourite weapon is irony. Irony is
her forte and most of the humour proceeds from her use of it. Her
novels are all comedies in which she exposes the absurdities and
failings of her characters. She has a comedian's attitude to life, and
her vision is ironical and satirical. However, her humour is not of the
boisterous type; it is a mild and subdued kind of humour. It may be
noted also that there is little malice in her attitude, though a note of
bitterness occasionally creeps into it. Her humour has been
compared to that of Shakespeare, but that is an exaggeration.

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Character-Portrayal
She gives us an abundance of character-portraits. She shows an
acute grasp of the human mind and human motives, and reveals
these with great skill. She is not only concerned with the externals
of character, but also with a psychological portrayal of it. Her
studies of women are more successful than those of men. Another
noteworthy feature about these novels is that there are neither any
perfect or idealized characters nor any thorough villains in them.
Few Dramatic or Melodramatic Incidents
There are few dramatic or melodramatic incidents in her stories. Her
exquisite touch renders commonplace things and characters
interesting by virtue of the truth of description and the truth of
sentiment. She is not interested in the paraphernalia of the
"romantic" novel. Nor does she show any capacity to depict
"passion". There are no fiery outbursts in her stories, and no
dwelling upon the passion of love. Nor do we have many tragic or
heart-rending or deeply poignant situations to grieve us. She deals
principally with the comic side of life, not its painful side.
Her Detachment
Her narration shows a remarkable detachment or objectivity on her
part. She does not interrupt her stories with her personal comments
(as Thackeray and George Eliot often do). She does not obtrude
herself on the reader's attention, and her novels are free from
intrusions by her. Nor is there any moralizing in her stories. A moral
purpose is certainly there, but the reader is allowed to reach it by
his own effort.
Her Limited Range
As her stories are based on her personal experience and an
observation of the life around her, her range is extremely limited.
She deals with a narrow mode of existence, and does not even show
much interest in external nature. She excludes much of human life
from her novels, because she does not have imagination enough to
carry her beyond her own observation. But within her narrow range
she is supreme. Her characters are true to life, and all her work has
the perfection of a miniature painting.
LOUIS CAZAMIAN'S VIEW OF JANE AUSTEN
A Limited Outlook
The novels of Jane Austen deal almost wholly with the restricted
circle of home life, and round it all social interests are gathered. The
atmosphere is one of provincial calm with a very limited outlook,
where the extremes of wealth and poverty are unknown. We find
ourselves in a small world of country gentry, clergymen, and middleclass people, where social intercourse is smooth and simple. There
are few incidents which can be called dramatic, although our
attention is focused on shades of character. Jane Austen's realism is
more truly psychological than that of Richardson, for it is free from
the tragic obsessions of a moral conscience. There is an
extraordinary degree of truth in her pictures of reality. Each of her
novels depicts a group of human beings, their relations with one

69
another, their clashes and affinities, their mutual influences, and
their conversations.
Her Understanding of the Human Character
Jane Austen shows an intuitive understanding of human character.
Her intuition is so natural and supple that it appears absolutely
simple. She reads the inner minds of her characters as if those
minds were transparent. She seizes them in their depths. The secret
complexities of self-love, the many vanities, the imperceptible
quiverings of selfishness, are all indicated or suggested so calmly
and with so sober a touch that the author's personal reaction is
reduced to a minimum. Her stories are perfectly objective and show
a spirit of gentle tolerance, though a subtle suggestion of irony
hovers over every page and reveals a sharpness of vision that could
be extremely severe.
The Spirit of Classicism
There is little sentimentality in her novels which show a delicacy of
touch, a sense of balance, and a serene reasonableness. These
novels reflect the spirit of classicism in its highest form and in its
most essential quality. They show a safe, orderly harmony in the
writer's mind, a harmony where the intellect is supreme. So classical
is her method that we are strongly reminded of the art of the great
French analysts. She writes in a manner that shows her aloofness
from the Romanticism which had spread its power around her. One
of her first novels, Northanger Abbey, is a most penetrating criticism
of the self- deception practised by those whose souls are intoxicated
with the spell of artificial fear. Her attitude towards Romanticism
became less critical with the passing of time. In Mansfield Park and
Persuasion there is a warming of the thought, a greater tenderness
of feeling, and an easier reconciliation with the spirit of her times.
She is not in complete agreement with the hierarchy of the social
order, but she does not give any signs of revolt. Her moral teaching
is characterized by a wisdom which is free from all illusions. Her
moral teaching is the fruit of a perfectly healthy heart and mind.
The Delineation of Women
Her novels contain a wealth of character studies. These character
studies are not all equally good. Her studies of women are more
searching and more life-like than those of men. She has delineated
character from the inside with the full and finished touch of the
great masters; and she can also sketch figures with so sure and
suggestive a pen that they stand out on a strong and unforgettable
ground. Her power of perception is keen and fresh. She immediately
grasps the individual traits, the odd as well as the comic. Her work
represents in an original way the internal comedy of life with all its
whims and fancies. Reality awakens in her a spirit of amusement
without bitterness. Her grasp of character does not destroy the
concrete sense of faces, gestures, and acts. She abundantly
possesses the implicit eloquence of humour.
A Unique Charm

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Her range of effects is wonderfully varied. Pride and Prejudice shows
a piquant, youthful gaiety. Her art here is almost perfect. Her last
novels show a mellow maturity, though a less sure art. They are less
free from lengthy or weak passages, but are richer in moral
significance. But all the novels possess a unique charm associated
with a most sober distinction of technique and style.
SOME OTHER OPINIONS ABOUT JANE AUSTEN
1. The Truth of the Description and the
Sentiment in Her Novels
"That young lady had a talent for describing the involvements,
feelings, and characters of ordinary life which is to me the most
wonderful thing I have ever met with. The big bow-wow I can do
myself like anyone going, but the exquisite touch which renders
commonplace things and characters interesting from the truth of
the description and the sentiment is denied me.Sir Walter Scott.
2. Unequalled Within Her Own Field
Very few English writers ever had so narrow a field of work as Jane
Austen. Like the French novelists, whose success seems to lie in
choosing the tiny field that they know best, her works have an
exquisite perfection that is lacking in most of our writers of fiction.
With the exception of an occasional visit to the watering-place of
Bath, her whole life was spent in small country parishes, whose
simple country people became the characters of her novels. Her
brothers were in the navy, and so naval officers furnished the only
exciting element in her stories; but even these alleged heroes lay
aside their imposing martial ways and act like themselves and other
people. Such was her literary field, in which the chief duties were of
the household, the chief pleasures in country gatherings, and the
chief interests in matrimony. Life, with its mighty interests, its
passions, ambitions, and tragic struggles swept by like a great river;
while the secluded interests of a country parish went round and
round quietly. We can easily understand, therefore, the limitations of
Jane Austen; but within her own field she is unequalled. Her
characters are absolutely true to life, and all her work has the
perfection of a miniature painting. The most widely read of her
novels is Pride and Prejudice: but three others, Sense and
Sensibility, Emma, and Mansfield Park, have slowly won their way to
the front rank of fiction. From a literary view-point Northanger Abbey
is perhaps the best; for in it we find that touch of humour and
delicate satire with which this gentle little woman combated the
grotesque popular novels of the Udolpho type.William J. Long.
3. Her Realism
The area of experience with which she could deal was naturally
determined by her own life. She has been said to hold a mirror up to
life and it is apparent to any reader of her letters that she mirrors
the life she knew. The family names --Marianne, Anne, Henry; the
family professions the church, the militia, the navy, landowning;
the family gatherings, journeys, walks; the countryside she knew;
the streets of Bath and Lyme; the conventions and the manners of

71
her time are all recorded. But we must remember that the mirror is
not a true one -- it is deflected by her own outlook as moralist and
ironist.
Character-Analysis
Her interest is in human motive, the reactions of individuals to each
other; and therefore a narrow social setting was ideal material for
her. The small area of experience allowed closer analysis of
recurring situations and types; she could deal with them with
absolute accuracy by never stepping beyond the limits of her
personal knowledge.
No Strong Passions
Charlotte Bronte said that the passions were perfectly unknown to
Jane Austen. Certainly the surface of the novels does not
immediately suggest strong passions. Jane Austen, in choosing to
delineate as accurately as possible the life she knew, recognized
that life was not likely to include mad wives, French mistresses,
orphans and the rest of the paraphernalia of the romantic novel. Her
prime belief that one should come to terms with the reality of life,
that one should deal only with what was probable, is as much part of
her first published novel, Sense and Sensibility, as it is of Emma.
And since her settings are the drawing-rooms, ball-rooms, parks and
gardens of a civilized, leisured class, she was unlikely to introduce
lunatics, villains, or ghostly figures.
Her Limitations
As a novelist, Jane Austen works within strict limitations. This is
often put forward as a criticism of her work. It has been said, for
example, that she had only one plot, that her subject- matter is
limited, superficial, repetitive, and without any real seriousness or
relevance to life. Certain limitations were imposed upon her by the
conventions of the romantic novel, whose plot demanded that she
should deal with the courtship and marriage of her heroine. But she
herself claimed that she worked on a "little bit (two inches wide) of
ivory". She was conscious of her limitations, worked strictly within
them, and turned them to her adavntage.-- Norman Sherry
4. The Comic Spirit
Two-thirds of her dramatis personae are regular comic characterparts. And even those figures with whom she is most in sympathy,
even her heroines, are almost all touched with the comic spirit. Two
of them, Emma and Elizabeth Bennet, are a great deal cleverer than
most heroines of fiction; one of them, Anne Elliot, is very good. But
all three are flesh and blood workaday creatures, able to laugh, if
not to be laughed at.
Living Characters
She possesses in the highest degree the one essential gift of a
novelist, the power to create living characters. It is true that she
only draws them in their private aspect, but this is not a superficial
aspect. A man's relation to his wife and children is at least as
important a part of his life as his relation to his beliefs and career,
and reveals him as fundamentally. Indeed, it reveals his moral side

72
more fundamentally. If we want to know about a man's talents, we
should see him in society; if we want to know about his temper, we
should see him at home. Furthermore, Jane Austen shows man as a
rule not in moments of crisis but in the trivial incidents of every day.
After all, life is made up of little things, and human nature reveals
itself in them as fully as in big ones. A picnic shows up selfishness,
kindness, vanity, sincerity, as much as a battle. Only we must have
the faculty to perceive them. Jane Austen had this faculty. Not
Dickens himself can visualise outward idiosyncrasies of his creatures
more vividly, their manner, their charm, their tricks of speech. But
she does not have to present man involved in major catastrophes.
However, if her plot demands it, she shows adequate capacity for
portraying her characters in moments of serious crisis. Lousia
Musgrove, skipping down the steps of the Cobb at Lyme, stumbles
and falls apparently lifeless. With acute insight Jane Austen
illustrates the way the rest of the party react to this disaster: how
the egotistic Mary Musgrove is absorbed in her egotistic agitation,
how the unrestrained Henrietta collapses, how Wentworth's
sympathetic imagination pictures at once the effect of the news on
Louisa's parents, how Anne alone, unselfish, self-controlled, keeps
her presence of mind. But though we admire Jane Austen's insight, it
tells us nothing new about these people. The uneventful walks and
dinner-parties where we have already seen them have already
revealed their temperaments and natures to us.
Lord David Cecil
5. Her Finely Etched Pictures of Social Life
In the daily routine of visits, shopping, sewing, gossip, and other
trivial matters which are regarded with an easy liveliness in her
letters, Jane Austen found the raw material of her novels. The world
which her books present to us is essentially an eighteenth-century
world in its habits, tastes, and appearance. She wrote just before
the Industrial Revolution changed for the worse so much of the face
of England, and the clean stillness of her country-towns, the
unspoiled beauty of her countryside with its well-kept estates and
cheerful farms, provide a perfect background to her finely etched
pictures of social life. There is a luminous clarity about her style as
well as about the scenes she portrays. She was describing, though
she did not know it, the last generation of Englishmen and
Englishwomen who could face life with cheerfulness, decorum, and
determination to go through the appropriate motions with grace,
elegance, and enjoyment. This is neither romanticism nor
sentimentality but she shows a remarkable insight into the relation
between social convention and individual temperament.
Her Deliberately Restricted Scope
It has often been remarked that, although the Napoleonic Wars were
going on throughout Jane Austen's writing career, she keeps
mention of them out of her novels, in which soldiers appear only as
attractions for the girls or in some similar social capacity. This is a
tribute not to her narrowness, but to the calm accuracy with which

73
she saw her subject. In the days when wars were fought by small
professional armies, the impact of the fighting on the daily life of
people living in small country-towns was negligible, and it would
have unrealistic as well as artistically inappropriate for Jane Austen
to have expanded her horizon to include discussions of world-affairs
which were not relevant to the situations she was presenting. She
worked deftly and wittily, and restricted her scope deliberately
because her intention wasmiscrocosmicto create a world in
little, perfectly proportioned and shown in the liveliest detail, and an
accurate model of the total social world of which this was only a
small part.
David Daiches
6. Vicious Men in her Novels
Jane Austen knew that vicious men existed, and frequently
flourished. Wick-ham, Willoughby, and Crawford are all seducers,
but she warns us that we must not look for the satisfaction of seeing
them ruined. Of Willoughby she expressly says: "That he was for
ever inconsolable, that he fled from society, or contracted a habitual
gloom of temper, or died of a broken heart, must not be depended
on, for he did neither. He lived to exert, and frequently to enjoy
himself." Each had at some stage a prospect of gaining the heroine's
affections, and each failed: Elizabeth looked first for Wickham at
Netherfield ball; Fanny was softening towards a reformed Crawford;
Willoughby held Marianne's heart in his hand. Their real crime is that
they do not know a good thing when they see it, and their
punishment is that they miss their chance. And they do not care a
bit. Frank Churchill, prepared to risk Emma's happiness to provide
cover for his own, is let off with mere strictures; and Mr. Woodhouse,
gentlest of rebukers, sums him up as "not quite the thing". Mr.
Woodhouse may not be formidable, but his disapproval is.
7. The Reputation of Jane Austen
Jane Austen's literary reputation established itself unobtrusively but
steadily. Within her own generation she obtained recognition. Scott
was among her earliest and most spontaneous admirers; but, to the
generation that followed, her novels necessarily appeared oldfashioned: the very language belonged to the past century.
Macaulay's enthusiasm, when he likened her to Shakespeare and
Moliere, was premature, and perhaps unguarded. Other writers,
from Southey to Henry James, have been content to cherish a
private appreciation of her art. General approbation grew, however,
until in 1910 E.V. Lucas called her "an English classic". Since A.C.
Bradley recalled critical attention to the peculiar quality of her
genius (in 1911), her standing as a novelist has not been seriously
challenged; detraction has fastened on her character, alleging that
her apprehension was dull, her temperament cold, her mind and
heart narrow -- despite the contrary witness of biographical
accounts based on personal recollection or family tradition.
Appreciation of the moral sensibility and seriousness discoverable in
her novels has lately advanced, at some cost to the enjoyment of
her wit. Mary Lascelles.

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