The focus of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice is the prejudice of Elizabeth Bennet against the apparent arrogance of her future suitor, Fitzwilliam Darcy, and the blow to his pride in falling in love with her. The key elements of the story are the irony, values and realism of the characters as they develop.
Jane Austen¹s irony is devastating in its exposure of foolishness and hypocrisy. Self-delusion or the attempt to fool other people are usually the object of her wit. There are various forms of exquisite irony in Pride and Prejudice, sometimes the characters are unconsciously ironic, as when Mrs. Bennet seriously asserts that she would never accept any entailed property, though Mr. Collins is willing to. Often Mr. Bennet and Elizabeth serve to directly express the author¹s ironic opinion. When Mary Bennet is the only daughter at home and does not have to be compared with her prettier sisters, the author notes that: " it was suspected by her father that she submitted to the change without much reluctance." (Austen 189) Mr. Bennet turns his wit on himself during the crisis with Whickham and Lydia: " let me once in my life feel how much I have been to blame. I am not afraid of being overpowered by the impression. It will pass away soon enough." (Austen 230)
Elizabeth¹s irony is lighthearted when Jane asks when she began to love Mr. Darcy: " It has been coming on so gradually that I hardly know when it began. But I believe I must date it from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberly" (Austen 163). She can be bitterly cutting however in her remark on Darcy¹s role in separating Bingley and Jane: " Mr. Darcy is uncommonly kind to Mr. Bingley, and takes a prodigio...
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...kling: Irony and Fiction in 'Pride and Prejudice,'" in The Fields of Light: An Experiment in Critical Reading. New York: Oxford University Press, 1951: 164-81.
Brownstein, Rachel, M. "Getting Married: Jane Austen." Becoming a Heroine: Reading About Women in Novels. 2nd ed. New York: Penguin Books, 1984. 81-134.
Fein, Ellen and Schneider, Sherrie. The Rules: Time-tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right. New York: Warner Books, 1995.
Menand, Louis. "What Jane Austen Doesn't Tell Us." New York Review of Books 43.2 1 Feb. 1996: 13-15.
Moler, Kenneth. Pride and Prejudice: A Study in Artistic Economy. Boston, MA: Twayne Publishers, 1989.
Newman, Karen. "Can This Marriage be Saved: Jane Austen Makes Sense of an Ending." ELH 50.4 (1983): 693-710.
Ryle, Gilbert. "Jane Austen and the Moralists," Oxford Review, No. 1, Feb., 1966, pp. 5-18.
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