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Pride and Prejudice
Transcript of Pride and Prejudice
About the Author
December 16th, 1775 - July 18th, 1817
Born in Steventon Rectory, Hampshire, England.
Wrote anonymously with the support of her family.
Primarily wrote romances, including Emma, Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, and the unfinished Sanditon.
Closest to her older sister and father.
Close-knit family located on the lower fringes of the English landed gentry.
Attended school, but had to leave due to financial issues.
Her death is claimed to be caused by Addison's disease, Hodgkin's lymphoma, or Brill–Zinsser disease.
About the Era (Part 1)
Land gentry (the class that owned land) had greater social status than the professional classes.
Only the rich could afford a comfortable lifestyle.
Most towns were unsanitary and dirty, so disease was not uncommon.
Twenty-two year war with France (Napoleon) led to a large amount of militia.
Novels were more easily published and circulated.
About the Era (Part 2)
Almost all of the middle and upper class were literate, and a growing number of everyone else.
Very few men had the right to vote and no women were allowed to vote.
To keep land in the family, property was given to the male heir.
Mary Wollstonecraft published "Vindication of Rights of Women" that stated that women were equal to men.
Elizabeth "Lizzie" Bennet
Mr. Bennet’s wife, a foolish, noisy woman whose only goal in life is to see her daughters married. Because of her unbecoming behavior, Mrs. Bennet often repels the very suitors whom she tries to attract for her daughters. Her character demonstrates that foolishness can be found at any level of society.
Catherine "Kitty" Bennet
The novel’s protagonist. She is the second daughter of Mr. Bennet and closest to her older sister, Jane, and her best friend, Charlotte Lucas. Elizabeth is the most intelligent and sensible of the five Bennet sisters, being well read and quick-witted. She tends to judge based on first impressions, but eventually realizes Darcy’s essential goodness which triumphs over her initial prejudice against him.
The eldest and most beautiful Bennet sister. Jane is more reserved and gentler than Elizabeth. The interaction between her and Bingley is easygoing and pleasant compared to Elizabeth and Darcy’s.
"'I was very much flattered by his asking me to dance a second time. I did not expect such a compliment.' 'Did you not? I did for you. But that is one great difference between us. Compliments always take you by surprise, and me never.'"
The youngest Bennet sister. She is gossipy, immature, and self-involved. Unlike Elizabeth, Lydia flings herself right into romance and ends up running off with Wickham.
The patriarch of the Bennet family, a gentleman of modest income with five unmarried daughters. Mr. Bennet has a sarcastic, cynical sense of humor that he uses to purposefully irritate his wife. Though he loves his daughters (especially Elizabeth), he often fails as a parent, preferring to withdraw from the marriage concerns of the women around him rather than offer help.
The third and only plain (not pretty) Bennet sister, and rather than join in some of the family activities, she mostly reads and practices music, although she is often impatient to display her accomplishments. She works hard for knowledge and accomplishment, but she has neither genius nor taste. Like her two younger sisters, Kitty and Lydia, she is seen as being silly by Mr. Bennet. Mary is not very intelligent but thinks of herself as being wise.
The fourth Bennet sister. Like Lydia, she is girlishly enthralled with the soldiers. Although older, she looks up to Lydia as a role model and follows her actions.
Darcy’s sister. She is immensely pretty and just as shy. She has great skill at playing the pianoforte. Her history with Wickham causes Lizzie to discover his true personality.
Lady Catherine de Bourgh
Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner
A conceited clergyman who stands to inherit Mr. Bennet’s property who takes no hesitation in letting everyone and anyone know that Lady Catherine de Bourgh serves as his patroness. He is the worst combination of snobbish and servile.
"'I am not now to learn,' replied Mr. Collins, with a formal wave of the hand, "that it is usual with young ladies to reject the addresses of the man whom they secretly mean to accept, when he first applies for their favour; and that sometimes the refusal is repeated a second or even a third time. I am therefore by no means discouraged by what you have just said, and shall hope to lead you to the altar ere long.'"
"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."
"Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us."
"I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of anything than of a book!--I shall be miserable if i have not an excellent library."
"There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me."
A wealthy gentleman, the master of Pemberley, and the nephew of Lady Catherine de Bourgh. His excessive pride causes him to look down on his social inferiors; however, throughout the novel, his pride dies down and he learns to admire and love Elizabeth for her strong character.
Darcy’s considerably wealthy best friend. He is a friendly, well-intentioned gentleman, whose easygoing nature contrasts with Darcy’s initially rude manner. He does not care for class differences.
A handsome, fortune-hunting militia officer. Wickham’s good looks and charm attract Elizabeth initially, but Darcy talks about Wickham’s disreputable past which clues her in to his true nature and simultaneously draws her closer to Darcy.
Elizabeth’s dear friend. Practical where Elizabeth is romantic, and also six years older than Elizabeth, Charlotte does not view love as the most vital component of a marriage. She is more interested in having a comfortable home. Thus, when Mr. Collins proposes, she accepts.
Mrs. Bennet’s brother and his wife. The Gardiners, caring, nurturing, and full of common sense, often prove to be better parents to the Bennet daughters than Mr. Bennet and his wife. Mrs. Gardiner is close to her nieces Elizabeth and Jane. Jane stays with the Gardiners in London for a period, and Elizabeth travels with them to Derbyshire, where she again meets Mr Darcy. The Gardiners are quick in their perception of an attachment between Elizabeth and Mr Darcy, and judge him without prejudice. They are both actively involved in helping Mr. Darcy arrange the marriage between Lydia and Mr Wickham.
A rich, bossy noblewoman. She is Mr. Collins’s patron and Darcy’s aunt. Lady Catherine embodies class snobbery, especially in her attempts to order the middle-class Elizabeth away from her nephew.
Bingley’s snobbish sister. Miss Bingley bears inordinate disdain for Elizabeth’s middle-class background. Her vain attempts to get Darcy’s attention cause Darcy to admire Elizabeth’s self-possessed character even more.
Love - As in many stories, love must conquer many ostacles before it can prevail. Through first impressions, Elizabeth and Darcy start off hating each other. They must also overcome physical hurdles, as well. In each case, anxieties about social connections, or the desire for better social connections, interfere with the workings of love. Austen does provide some cynical notions about love, using the character of Charlotte Lucas, who marries the Mr. Collins for his money, to demonstrate that the heart does not always dictate marriage; however, with her central characters, Austen suggests that true love is a force separate from society and one that can conquer even the most difficult of circumstances.
Marriage - The opening line of the novel announces: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." This sets the marriage motif of the novel. It turns out that rather than the man being in want of a wife, the woman is in want of a husband who is "in possession of good fortune." Marriage becomes an economic rather than social activity. In the case of Charlotte, the seeming success of the marriage lies in the comfortable economy of their household. The relationship of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet serves to illustrate all that a marriage relationship should not be. Elizabeth and Darcy marry each other on equal terms after breaking each other's 'pride' and 'prejudice' and Austen clearly leaves the reader with the impression that the two will be the happiest.
Class - Much of the pride and prejudice in the novel exists because of class divisions. Darcy's first impressions on Elizabeth are colored by his snobbery. He cannot bring himself to love Elizabeth or at least acknowledge his love for her even in his own heart because of his pride. Lady Catherine and Miss Bingley do not accept the Bennets because of their inferior social standings; however, Mr. Bingley shows complete disregard to class.