Pride and Prejudice
Authored by Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice is a publication that centers on the protagonist Elizabeth Bennet and her perspectives with regard to the conformist society that she relates with. Various issues are addressed within the publication with the author emphasizing the practices through an illustrative manner that seeks to conserve the community’s ideals. This is brought out significantly in marriage and societal stratification that accords categorization and therefore the presence of socializing inhibitors (Lem, 2005).
The publication employs a conservative approach to the idea of marriage. In the opening of the narrative, it is evident that Mrs. Bennet is anxious to ensure that her daughters, or at least one of her five daughters, attain a suitable fiancé in a bid to secure the family’s inheritance. Within the publication, Mrs. Bennet is obsessed to the marriage objective, her strong passion reflective of the potency that the institute accords within the societal setting. This is further amplified by the fact that, Mrs. Bennet’s marriage is highly chauvinistic as reflected by her partner (Austen 67). Mr. Bennet disdains his wife openly due to her wanting social conduct and limited intelligence. It is the nature of conservative communities to be concerned with issues of conduct as related to the morality elements. Therefore, the author succinctly brings out the aspect that Mrs. Bennet’s persistence within the marriage is not hinged on the element of contentment and love, but on the idealistic beliefs of the community. With Mrs. Bennet’s case outlined within the introduction parts of the narrative, Austen only offers minimal perceptions of marriage in the accorded setting allowing the reader to inspect and subjectively enquire of Mr. Bennet’s conduct.
Marilyn Butler, a renowned reviewer notes that Austen accords this conformist approach to various issues in the publication, with her primary objective being the conservation of the society and not its destruction. This is achieved through a sober appraisal towards the identified problem with the provision of solutions. The preservation doctrine is accentuated further in the book through wedding of Charlotte Lucas and William Collins. Through the element of dramatic irony, the reader understands the chief rationale for the proposal is monetary comfort and age (Bloom 23). Unmarried women within conformist societies were mostly thought of as being sterile an incapable of being within marriage setting. Therefore, marriage would act as a proof for clearing such inclinations. This is a clear indication of a traditional perspective in the publication, as a contemporary feminist view would perpetuate for a single life as long as the affected individual is content. It is quite interesting that both women are ensnared in such relationships with neither divorce nor separation being considered as alternatives to the issue.
It is actually remarkable to note that neither of the aforementioned practices is discussed within the book as a deliberate function reflective of the accorded communal ideals. As the narrative plot is developed, a rather prominent reflection of the conservative nature of the society concerning marriage is exposed by George Wickham and Lydia Bennet’s eloping instance (Wiesenfarth 266). Wickham is an exploiter balancing Charlotte’s perspective of marriage as a reflection of the male gender. Butler accords a perspective with regard to the preservation concept, since an alienation of one gender from the discussion would accord a bigoted attitude towards the affected group and thereby leading to disharmony within the society. The most essential application of Wickham’s character with regard to marriage is brought out succinctly through his elopement with Lydia.
Within a contemporary setting, the action would most likely be upheld as a typical reflection of true love; Lydia is aged fifteen years at the time of the occurrence and therefore considered a juvenile individual, unlikely to comprehend the enormity of marriage. An interesting element is introduced in this arrangement that consent from parents was supreme to the couple’s arrangement. The parents and the society would therefore have some level of reluctance towards the arrangement. However, bearing tough will coupled with ignorant determination Lydia consents to Wickham’s deception without any form of knowledge (Leonard 54). The reaction accorded to the aforementioned actions act as the link to the concise portrayal of the given community on marriage issues. Elizabeth aware of the issue’s extent reduces her visitation to Pemberley and departs for her home place. Analogous to her move, her father and Mr. Gardiner employ themselves to a search to locate Wickham and Lydia prior to the information being disclosed to the society. With the reader clearly confused with the response, Austen divulges the implications of Lydia’s conduct towards the family.
Apparently, cohabiting acted as discrediting element to the affected family and thereby inhibiting the prospects of marriage to the single females (Lacour 601). In context of the Bennet’s, this would have compromised the capacity of the remaining four sisters into being wedded, despite the fact that Elizabeth and Jane were courting. The problem of cohabiting is not only reflected as female issue due to the inhibiting factor towards prospects of attaining marriage partners but also as a concern amongst the male populace too. This is achieved through the account of Darcy and his discord with Wickham as a consequence of the Wickham’s proposal for an eloping instance with Darcy’s sibling, Georgina, before the actualization of the young man’s plan with Lydia’s case. To maintain a proper image with the rest of the society, any form of action would be justified with the knowledge that the price attached to image recreation is more in terms of value.
The bribe is a calculated move to apparently clear the Bennet’s household from any reports that may have emanated from the situation. Claudia Johnson, a literature reviewer concurs with Butler’s viewpoint with regard to the fact that Austen employs a conservative approach in her publication yet reduces the level of significance by counteracting the values. Johnson employs Lydia’s case in her argument by noting that the inclusion of finances in the arrangement is actually a vice and thereby a preference that could not have been reached within a conformist society. The inverse would actually be accorded with the application of other persuasive techniques like dialogues, as this would have preserved the virtue system upheld as idealistic instances within traditional communities (Bloom 36). Although the payment resulted in upholding the family’s name and members interests, its application has a negative implication that unhealthy practices maybe accorded in various situations provided that a justification is given. Additionally, the same weakness is revealed in Charlotte’s case as evidenced by her motive and the again by her loveless relationship to the husband.
This is attributed to the fact that modernity as opposed to conventional communities amplifies individualistic practices as opposed to the society. With this standpoint therefore, Charlotte would be rationalized in acquiring monetary gain from her husband, while acquiring other needs like emotional wants from other associations. With the individual aspect being amplified over the communal good, vices tend to thrive as egocentricity is instituted. This critique actually serves as true and Austen employs the idea of the unhealthy practices first for the creation of a pragmatic setting (Schuessler, 2009). Social studies have proposed the presence of two states within all communal settings. The first setting termed as the positive setting is defined by the present nature of the accorded society, inclusive of both healthy and unhealthy aspects. This serves as a degenerated form of the society due to the presence of the problems and unhealthy issues. The inverse form of this is termed as the normative setting that bears an idealistic culture, devoid of any forms of vices.
Interestingly, social scholars have attained the conclusion that normative social organizations are inexistent. This serves as the main purpose for the adoption of ideals and principles that act as guides for upholding healthy conduct within the positive setting. In other words, the presence of normative societies would term positive setting and the need for virtue impartation as obsolete. Austen’s inclusion of the unhealthy practice is therefore not related to her support towards breaking the conservative ideals of the society but rather in first appreciating their existence as a form of acceptance, and secondly by offering solutions towards the same as a means towards attaining the normative setting (Haker, 2000). The relationship between Jane and Mr. Bingley reflects a near perfect matrimony based on mutual esteem and affection for one another. This is evidenced by their characters that are devoid of egotistic tendencies as that amplified in the Bennet’s marriage and Darcy’s initial view towards Elizabeth. Mr. Bingley is introduced as an effluent individual within the publication and although he is aware of Jane’s social positioning, he chooses to view past the societal vices of bigotry.
The relationship flourishes and all people focus towards the officiating bit. However, it is notable that the relationship also faces its challenges as any pragmatic association. This includes the communication failure upon Mr. Bingley’s departure for London and upon Jane’s trip to the same location, her lover fails to accord her a call. Although Jane’s main impetus toward the city is to trace her lover, she cunningly covers it with the aspect of visiting her acquaintances. The conformist nature of the community would highly disapprove of such social meetings as long as they were initiated by women (Austen and Donald 89). The Bingley’s unlike the Bennet’s are ranked within the highest social classification as attributed to their affluence and with the nature of the accorded community, dating prospects and relationship were noted amongst individuals of the same group. This is evidenced by the act that Caroline pursues Darcy with Collins according the same to Elizabeth. Charlotte within the publication is ranked within the least class, comprising of the underprivileged. Lacking a dating partner within the conservative society permitted an unequal association with the males being allowed to date women from a lower group.
The inverse of the association was not permitted, as this would overturn the chauvinistic element thus weakening the male rank within the community. Note this in Elizabeth and Darcy’s association, Charlotte and Collins, Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, and Mr. Bingley with Jane. This is unlike the contemporary society, where female and male relations can be initiated by either of the genders (Lem, 2005). This principle is upheld in all the relationships within the publication. George Wickham as the man is the one who initiates the dating factor to both Georgina and Lydia, Darcy applies the same to Elizabeth and so does Mr. Bingley to his lover, Jane. Although Caroline bears romantic objectives for Darcy, she refrains from communicating this to him. This reflects the conformist practices where the men had to assume the initiating part in a relationship. Note that this applies in Jane’s instance as she is also constrained from revealing her feelings verbally to her lover and has to wait for a long time before the same is realized. In Caroline’s case, the initiating part never occurs between her and Darcy as the latter individual accords a decision to relate to Elizabeth.
Within the modern society, women are able to initiate relations with the men and this would be treated as an ordinary occurrence. Another reflection of the chauvinistic tendency as part of traditional values concerns inheritances. The whole narrative is hinged on this element as the Bennet’s seek to identify eligible men to wed them and thereby preserve the wealth within their family. Austen however refrains from indulging within the additional debate within regard to male authority (Bloom 14). This is a notable strength within the publication as it allows for subjective appraisal with regard to the reader’s comprehension and perspectives. However, Austen communicates her view concerning male authority as being healthy devoid of disrespect towards the female gender. The language employed in the book is admirable between the genders. Women are attended to as ‘ma’am’ or ‘miss’, while the males are attend to as ‘Mr.’ or ‘Sir’. Other mannerisms reflected in the book also accentuate the conservative view, for instance, women offer slight bows to the men both as a reverential and acknowledgment gesture as evidenced by Elizabeth in her initial encounter with Darcy. Additionally, the same is employed in reflecting consent.
Carriages are employed as transport means within various instances in the publication. In the instance that Darcy is escorting Elizabeth with the other ladies to an awaiting coach, he clasps each of their hands in turn to aid them with the ascension into the carriage (Bloom 27). All characters accord amicable treatment amongst themselves in speech and non-verbal terms as a reflection of the society’s requirements. This is an excellent reflection of the conformist nature of the characters in the book. In conclusion, Austen succeeds in preserving the conformist elements of community that acts as the setting for the narrative. This however should not be confused to mean that no problems are amplified and discussed within the book. This is realized through her intelligent outlining of the issues present within the society without a dynamic or express attack of the system to factor out the element of biasness in the publication. Inferences are clearly allocated to the reader for own reflections and conclusions.
Austen, Jane. The Annotated Pride and Prejudice. Fort Wayne: Anchor Books, 2007. Print.
Austen, Jane, and Donald Gray. Pride and Prejudice (Norton Critical Editions). New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2000. Print.
Bloom, Harold. Jane Austen’s pride and prejudice. New York: Infobase Publishing, 2007. Print.
Haker, Ann. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. 2000. Web. 10 June 2011. <http://www.austen.com/pride/>.
Lacour, Claudia. “Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Hegel’s “Truth in Art”: Concept, Reference, and History”. ELH 59.3 (1992): 597-623. JSTOR. Web. 10 June 2011. <http://www.jstor.org/pss/2873444>.
Lem, Stanislaw. “My Essay on Pride and Prejudice.” The Literature Network Forums 1 Feb. 2005. Web. 10 June 2011. <http://www.online-literature.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3854>.
Leonard, John. “Jane-Mania.” New York Magazine 15 Jan. 1996: 54-55. Print.
Schuessler, Jennifer. “I Was a Regency Zombie.” The New York Times 21 Feb. 2009. Web. 10 June 2011. <http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/22/weekinreview/22schuessler.html>.
Wiesenfarth, J. “The Case of Pride and Prejudice”. Studies in the Novel Denton, Tex. 16.3 (1984): 261-273. Print.