Essay on the Departure from the Romantic Novel in Pride and Prejudice

Essay on the Departure from the Romantic Novel in Pride and Prejudice

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A Departure from the Romantic Novel in Pride and Prejudice

    In Pride and Prejudice, Austen describes the union of 4 couples -- namely, Elizabeth and Darcy, Jane and Bingley, Lydia and Wickham, and Charlotte and Collins. For the Elizabeth-Darcy relationship, it is clearly an inversion of romantic expectations, and Austen makes it clear that this steadfast, rational relationship is desirable, yet the Charlotte-Collins relationship, [very rational] while also being unconventional, suffers some criticism. Jane and Bingley, though playing very much to expectations of a romantic-story, are dealt with gently and not unkindly by Austen. The same sort of tempestuous emotional impulsiveness of Lydia and Wickham, so typical of romantic novels at that time, is clearly criticized.


Many critics in the nineteenth century approved of Austen's work, as she was vastly different from other novelists, injecting little of the "screams along the corridor" variety of novels that is suitable only for "maids and chamberwomen". This is characterised largely by the story of Elizabeth and Darcy, which is an inversion of romantic book expectations. Unlike the instantaneous, fiery passion that Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights had for Catherine, [not true, but I see what you mean] for this couple, it was more akin to extreme dislike-at-first-sight. Haughty, reserved Darcy, revealing none of the gushing, wondrous, she-is-the-most-beautiful-creature-in-the-world type of sentiment, caustically notes that she is "tolerable ... but not handsome enough to tempt me." Elizabeth, rightly incensed, takes a "decided dislike" for him throughout much of the first 2 volumes of the novel. This inauspicious beginning, in no way signifies to readers the fir...

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...ald Gray.  New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1996.

Hennelly, Jr., Mark M. "Pride and Prejudice." Jane Austen: New Perspectives. ed. Janet Todd. New York: Holmes & Meier Publishers, Inc., 1983.

Jane Austen Info Page. Henry Churchyard. U of Texas, Austin. 23 Nov. 2000.


Monaghan, David.  Jane Austen Structure and Social Vision.  New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1980.

Poplawski, Paul.  A Jane Austen Encyclopedia.  Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1998.

Reidhead, Julia, ed. Norton Anthology of English Literature vol. 7, 2nd ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2000.

Ward, David Allen. "Pride and Prejudice." Explicator. 51.1: (1992).

Wright, Andrew H. "Feeling and Complexity in Pride and Prejudice." Ed. Donald Gray. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1966. 410-420.



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