The Surfaces Within Pride and Prejudice

Published: 2021-06-29 06:54:07
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Category: Book Reports

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I feel that the statement that "Pride and Prejudice is pre-occupied with surfaces and never gets beneath them" is wrong. It is quite the opposite because Jane Austen insists on going into great depths as to why characters conform to society and how society affects their relationships and other issues of the sort. The opening line "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife" is suffice evidence that Austen's inclinations are to show the reader what society was like during the Regency era from the beginning of the book. Through the use of narrative techniques, irony and humour Austen allows us to go beneath the surfaces.

The issue of marriage is one of great significance in Austen's eyes because she goes beneath the surfaces of an array of marriages throughout the novel. These marriages help to outline and emphasise Austen's opinions of what marriage is which is a binding of two people who are in essence very similar human beings who share the same needs and wants. This idea of marriage went against societies expectations because compatibility and love was not important. In fact, social status and wealth seemed to have been necessities in marriages during Austen's life which is supported by Charlotte Lucas when she says "very few of us who have a heart enough to be really in love without encouragement". However, I feel that Austen's morals of marriage are portrayed succinctly through the relationships of Mr Darcy and Elizabeth and Mr Bingley and Jane.

Without the marriage of Mrs Bennet and Mr Bennet there would be no basis for comparison and the reader would be passive, however, it becomes apparent that although they have a long lasting marriage they are far from happy. Their relationship is in stark contrast with Jane and Mr Bingley's. This is a deliberate ploy by Austen to help portray with greater clarity and conviction the coherent message of the novel, which is a corrupt relationship is one which lacks love.

First impressions are a vital aspect of the novel because Jane Austen uses it as a way of going beneath the surfaces of Mr Darcy and Elizabeth. Both characters have their own faults such as Mr Darcy's intrinsic supercilious nature and Elizabeth's prejudice but they eventually reassess themselves with the aid of each other and transform dramatically. Mr Darcy transitions from a haughty and proud gentleman to a man who is less concerned with pride and Elizabeth overcomes her strong-minded and stubborn but more importantly prejudice views of Darcy. Austen uses them as devices to convey how one should never judge a book by its cover but be more aware of ones own faults.

What I find most interesting is how Austen subtly and effectively lures the reader into a false sense of security about the character of Mr Darcy. She begins to reveal key events such as Wickham's elopement with his younger sister Georgiana which is a turning point in the novel. At this point Austen goes beneath the surface of Darcy's true character and we realise he is a pragmatic, modest and genuine gentleman. We begin to notice that his actions speak louder than words because he finances Lydia and Wickham's elopement on his own accord. Elizabeth choses to quickly judge Darcy as a pretentious man but in fact he merely wishes to get closer to her. There are many facets to Darcy's character but perhaps what is so essential is that Austen uses him to go beneath the surface of upper-class aristocrats in order to find common ground to prove that social prominence and wealth does not epitomize the quality of an individual but that modesty and amiability is more important.

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