Essay from Z.I. Mahmud

Pride and Prejudice poster. Keira Knightley, a young white woman with short brown hair, looks to the side in the foreground while a young white man, Colin Firth, stands off in the background. Behind them is a large outdoor field with a tree and the sun.
Pride and Prejudice movie poster

“Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance.” Explain and elucidate the significance of the following line in the light and perspectives of Austenian feminine characters.

Jane Austen’s feminine figures including the heroine Elizabeth Bennet and the manorial role of Charlotte Collins Lucas have agonistic perceptions or differing opinions with relation to marriage, conjugality, intimacy, self personhood or individual fulfillment.

Charlotte Lucas’ preferences of conjugality or marital alliance with Mr. William Collins, surmounts the touchstones of mercenary wedding, prudential matrimony or materialistic marriage lacking of admiration, love, romance unlike Elizabeth Bennet’s relationship. Economic futures and financial security are everything that a woman would be intending for a sustenance of livelihood and, in this sense, Charlotte is not an exception. Elizabeth Bennet despises such courtship or conjugality which lacks romantic love in engagements or relationships and this is evidently crystal clear by Elizabeth’s dialogical interiority demarking, “she [Charlotte Lucas] had sacrificed every better feeling to worldly advantage”.

Elizabeth Bennet further proceeds, critiquing her formerly intimate acquainted friend, Charlotte Lucas’ fiance, “Mr. William Collins was neither sensible nor agreeable; his society was irksome, and her attachment to her[Charlotte Lucas] was imaginary.”

Elizabeth possesses the sentiment that a woman’s wellbeing is either affirmed or jeopardized by the social institution of marriage. Jane Austen, through Elizabeth Bennet, says to regard marriage as the union of refinement and self-improvement. Charlotte Lucas’s marriage guarantees money, wealth, or fortunes but at the stakes of a husband famed for being conceited, pompous, narrow-minded, or silly.

“How despicably have I acted!… How humiliating is this discovery!” Elizabeth’s exclamation of being cheated by the befoolery and fraudulence of Wickham ameliorates her fragile relation with Mr. Darcy. Her marriage exemplifies the acknowledgment of “I marry for love and not for comfort” and “advantage to the union of both”.

Charlotte and Elizabeth: Multiple Modernities In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Author: Melina Moe, Source: ELH, Vol 83, No. 4, Winter 2016, pages: 1075-1103, Yale University, Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press

Describe Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice as a form of romance novel genre with textual citations and references to features of spatiotemporality.

Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice (P&P) is a social criticism upon the family life and English society from the preNapoleonic French revolutions to the post Austenian Regency England. Throughout the bicentennial adaptations, translations, transmutations, simplifications, continuations, dramatization and theatrical embodiments have evolved the emergence of spatiotemporality from Netherfield to Meryton, Bath to London and Derbyshire Pemberley.

Explicitly Longbourn Meryton Hertfordshire ladies especially the much piquant Bennet household, have attendance to participate in marital ball festivals occasioning the neighboring estates to be exalted in revelry and merriment of the marriage market. Herein, haughty and arrogant Fitzwiliam Darcy’s manifested appearance harbours a presentiment of ‘above station…above company…’ attitude.

Upon facing to see Elizabeth, he declares to Bingley, “She is tolerable but not handsome enough to tempt me. I am at present in no humour to give consequences to young ladies sighted by other men.” Bath is the haven Gardiners and Elizabeth Bennet have a harangue of marital alliance discourses pertaining to conjugality and relationships with her family relations therein, “Pray, my dear aunt, what is the difference in matrimonial affairs between the mercenary and the prudent motive? Where does discretion ends and avarice begins?…My dear, dear, aunt,” she cried rapturously cried out. What delight! What felicity! You give me fresh life and vigour. Adieu to disappointment and spleen. What are men to rocks and mountains?!” Oh! What hours of transport we shall spend! ….Lakes, mountains and rivers…generality of travellers.”

Jane’s struggling resistance to recovering from depression and mood swings and the visitation of Miss Bingley at Gracechurch Street happens to be a lengthy dialogue between microcosmic spaces and timings. Screams and tantrums of Lady Catherine Debourgh metaphorically bespeaks Jane Austen’s own rages and this is destined to be venued at Lady Catherine Debourgh’s residence of Rosings and Hunsford parsonage of Kent where Mr. Collins curates. “Mr. Collins, you must marry…Chuse properly, chuse a gentlewoman for my sake; and for your own, let her be an active, useful sort of a person, not brought up high, but able to make a small income go a good way.”

“This is a most unfortunate affair and will probably be much talked of. But we must stem the tide of malice, and pour into the wounded bosoms of each other the balm of sisterly consolation.” Then the novel’s narratological obsequiousness and space time travel furtherance of London to East Sussex Brighgton occurs with Lydia and Wickham’s scandalous affair into an elopement. Elopement of scandal in the sense, that ladies of Regency England should have marriage settlements with family’s consent and approbation. This grimes the scandalous affair to exploitative financial pecuniary usurpation by George Wickham and the disregard for moral opprobrium amongst of the Bennets amongst the gentries.

Until Darcy’s rescue, the family would have sunk into pangs of disgrace and eventually lost esteemed value. Vindictiveness of Elizabeth for heroic Darcy’s “blind, partial, prejudices and biased viewpoint and sentiment ameliorates salvaging of climax, “I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away where either where concerned. Till this moment, I never knew myself.” Deberyshire’s “Pemberley grounds” becomes the heyday of truth that Darcy’s impersonation imitates none the less as “”He is the best landlord, and the best master,” said she [housekeeper Mrs. Reynolds] “that ever lived; not like the wild young men nowadays, who think of nothing but themselves. Elizabeth Bennet’s admiring wish for being the mistress of Pemberley turns a sublime touch of reality after the philanthropic and humane attitude of Darcy’s revelations with subsequent rescue efforts for George and Lydia.

In this relevance, Elizabeth Bennet is interpreted to be a stormier traveller of space-temporality from out of the library to the ball room and then up to the altar. The setting for ending strikes the Pemberley with Darcy’s denouement, “I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look or the words which laid the foundation. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.”

To the viewpoint of literary critic Andrew H Wright, “To say that Darcy is proud and Elizabeth is prejudiced is to tell but half the story. Pride and Prejudice are both faults but they are the necessary defects of desirable merits: self-importance and intelligence. The novel makes clear the fact that Darcy’s pride leads to a prejudice and Elizabeth’s prejudice stems from a pride in her own perceptions. And the tragic ironic theme of the book might indeed be said to have centered on the dangers of human intellectual complexities.”

Further Reading Johns Hopkins University Publishers Press, Celebrating The Bicentennial: Jane Austen And Her Recent Critics, Barry Roth, Ohio University, Studies In The Novel, Winter 1976, Vol. 8, No. 4, pages: 474-481

Pride and Prejudice Editorship of Donald Gray 1. Claudia L. Johnson, Pride and Prejudice and the Pursuit of Happiness 2. Susan Fraiman, The Humiliation of Elizabeth Bennett

Marriage, almost inevitably the narrative event that constitutes a happy ending, represents in their view submission to a masculine narrative imperative that has traditionally allotted women love and men the world. Ironically perhaps, such readers have preferred novels that show the destructive events of patriarchal oppressions, for they complain that Austen’s endings, her happily-ever-after-marriages, represents a decline in her protagonists. In the light of this commentary explain the significance of the ending of Pride and Prejudice.

Or explain Pride and Prejudice as Marxist-feminist criticism of nineteenth century English society. ‘’As in much women’s fiction, the end, the reward, of women’s apprenticeship to life is marriage… Marriage, which requires [heroine and protagonist Elizabeth Bennet] to dwindle by degrees into a wife.’’ Nineteenth century women’s lives are satirized by Jane Austen’s romantic fiction through burlesque comedy, irony and most tellingly of marriage
as a self-knowledge; the overcoming of egoism and the mark of psychic development.

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice’s ensuing narrative with the aphoristic maxim of that, ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife’. On the contrary, ironically, young bachelorettes such as the Bennet family maidens and Charlotte Lucas are in the dire urgency of procuring their wealthier husbands for securing their fortune which the marriage motif exerts throughout the narrative culminating in the resolution or reconciliation amongst the hero and heroine, notably Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet.

Literary critics like chivalry balladic romance novelist Walter Scott’s shrewd observation of Elizabeth’s changing heart at Pemberley rekindles her blind, partial, prejudice or biased opinions to enlightening truth and light. Elizabeth Bennet becomes admirable of the tastes and judgment imprintings and engravings of the Derbyshire Pemberley mansion of Mr. Darcy. This resemblance salvages her vindication of her behavioral attitude and
sentimental temperament to love and matrimony after hearing of the housekeeping stewardess’ narrative; “the best master and the best landlord that ever lived, not like those wild young men of nowadays, who think of nothing but themselves’

The justification of George Wickham’s verdict of ‘..imprudence of abominable Mr. Darcy..’ is revealing to be unfolding treachery to Elizabeth Bennet, and this hints to the material prospects of usurpation of wealth and fortunes by veteran social class and working class bourgeois exploiting marriage to be surfeit of worldly advantage and materialism.

Darcy has tied the knot of ignorant and imprudent Lydia with the impecunious George Wickham and thus safeguards the Bennet family from the apocalypse of social disenfranchisement and infamous disempowerment. ..

Deconstructionist Judith Lowder Newton’s exclamations of the Marxist-feminist close reading of Pride and Prejudice emerges the revelations of ‘fantasy-wish-fulfillment structure where the boy meets -the-girl-leads-to-marriage’ convention.

On the contrary, the fairy tale structure and the materialist language which pervades the novel emphasizes rather than represses or obscures what Terry Eagleton terms ‘the fault lines of the nineteenth century English society’

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice are both revolutionary and romantic and even unconservative to be true in Butler’s lucid rhetoric, ‘anti-jacobin tradition’ Through ironic reversals and miraculous coincidences Austen has pointedly observed sentimental ideals and novelistic conventions on the one hand, and the social realities of sexist prejudice, hypocrisy and avarice on the other.

Further Reading & References

1. The Continuity of Jane Austen’s Novels, Author: Juliet McMaster, Source: Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, Autumn 1970, Vol. 10, No. 4, pages: 723-729

2. Can This Marriage Be Saved: Jane Austen Makes Sense of An Ending, Author: Karen Newman, Source: ELH, Winter 1983, Vol. 50, No. 4, pages: 693-710, Johns Hopkins University Press Publishers