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The power of love to change the attitude to life as exemplified in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice

Term Paper (Advanced seminar) 2004 9 Pages

English Language and Literature Studies - Literature

Excerpt

Inhaltsverzeichnis

1.0 The significance and consequences of “first impressions” in the novel

2.0 The character of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy and the influence of love on their personalities and attitudes

3.0 Conclusion

4.0 References

1.0 The significance and consequences of “first impressions” in the novel

Jane Austen’s novel “Pride and Prejudice” was initially titled “First Impressions”, which already indicates the book’s reference to the weight of appearance and its impact on the development of relationships, opinions and even a person’s whole life. In fact, the book’s main action, which focuses on the destiny of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, is based on first impressions, namely those the characters get at the Meryton assembly. When Darcy enters the room he is commonly regarded as fine, handsome and in possession of a noble mien – a positive assessment which the party even improves after learning that Darcy is a wealthy man: “The gentlemen pronounce him to be a fine figure of a man, the ladies declared he was much handsomer than Mr. Bingley, and he was looked at with great admiration (…)” . Nevertheless, soon a certain aversion towards Mr. Darcy develops since he is discovered to be “the proudest and most disagreeable man in the world” .

Here, Austen provides a typical example of how the people of her time judged and how “first impressions” can be influenced by social and economic status. Therefore, the people’s opinions and perspectives were not likely to be objective but rather collectively biased and ignorant – one of Austen’s main points of criticism in her comedy of manners. As a consequence, Elizabeth’s and Darcy’s (re-)actions are influenced by the common etiquette as well, for they are both respected members of society and take part in social life with all its rules and customs.

“Darcy’s and Elizabeth’s realization of a mutual and tender love seems to imply that Austen views love as something independent of these social forces, as something that can be captured if only an individual is able to escape the warping effects of hierarchical society.” So, Darcy and Elizabeth have the habit to ignore some of the manners, and their relationship is the most striking example for that. Both characters have to face serious objections to their love by members of their families. Each partner is found to be inappropriate to the other one for the critics’ subjective social and personal reasons.

It is remarkable that the views of people who are really important for Elizabeth and Darcy such as Jane, the Gardiners or Charles Bingley totally differ from other ones. The existence of more than one attitude towards the couple’s marriage implies the people’s double-moral and short-sightedness since they merely follow a general, “public” opinion and would recognize their distorted view if they only informed themselves properly about the issue. Rather than doing so, characters like Mrs. Bennet, Lady Catherine de Bourgh rely on their “first impression” and, thus, on their delusion. This fact underlines the human susceptibility to prejudices or rumors but also points out the deceptiveness of first impressions. In the novel, these two conditions collide and determine subsequently the entire action.

2.0 The character of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy and the influence of love on their personalities and attitudes

Elizabeth Bennet is of great importance for the action since the events are told from her point of view, even if not in the first person. In consequence of Lizzy’s extraordinary range of character traits like optimism, vibrancy, intelligence and confidence, she often shapes and advances the proceedings. After all, the entire plot is based on the fact that Darcy is attracted by Elizabeth, which is certainly a result of her personality and external virtues but especially of her individuality and independence, as the following analysis will show.

Actually, Elizabeth is one of the main characters and for this reason most of the action affects her, respectively most of the action is affected by her. Naturally, this is also due to Elizabeth’s character, which involves her ambition to handle complicated situations and stand up for other people like for Jane, who suffers from Bingley’s departure , or for Wickham, who can trick Elizabeth by pretending to be mistreated by Darcy . These examples also point out Elizabeth’s feeling for justice, truth and dignity and show that although basing most of her decisions on her clear mind, she is also an emotional person. However, her compassion and commitment sometimes interfere with her sharp judgment of human nature, such as in Wickham’s case. But, not being blinded by deceitful stories that evoke her sympathy, Elizabeth is able to see through the conceited, narrow-minded and foolish characters of Mr. Collins, Lady De Bourgh or Ms. Bingley.

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Details

Pages
9
Year
2004
ISBN (eBook)
9783638260381
File size
367 KB
Language
English
Catalog Number
v22771
Institution / College
University of Szczecin – Institute for English Studies
Grade
1 (A)
Tags
Jane Austen Pride Prejudice

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Title: The power of love to change the attitude to life as exemplified in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice