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"Irony is the soul of Jane Austine's comedy"

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Aleksandra Piwońska

on 16 January 2014

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Transcript of "Irony is the soul of Jane Austine's comedy"

"Irony is the soul of Jane Austine's comedy"
“You mistake me, my dear. I have a high respect for your nerves… They are my old friends. I have heard you mention them with consideration these twenty years at least”
Mr. Bennet irony
Elizabeth's irony
Mr. Darcy's irony
Jane Austine used different narrative perspectives:
omniscient narrator, who describes the events from a third person perspective;
focalization- to build a reltion with Elizabeth;
dialogues- to show characters;
Mrs. Bennet's irony
"Well, my comfort is, I am sure Jane will die of a broken heart, and then he will be sorry for what he has done.''
The irony runs through the whole novel.
Free indirect discourse
"Elizabeth allowed that he had given a very rational account of it, and they continued talking together, with mutual satisfaction till supper put an end to cards, and gave the rest of the ladies their share of Mr. Wickham's attentions. There could be no conversation in the noise of Mrs. Phillips's supper party, but his manners recommended him to everybody. Whatever he said, was said well; and whatever he did, done gracefully."
Jane Austen’s irony in the social context

She uses irony as a social tool to direct the reader's gaze to some of the human imperfections that threaten the virtues of her culture.
A striking feature of the irony in Pride and Prejudice is that it is mixed with unmistakable strains of cynicism. This ‘black’ irony is very much in evidence throughout the book. For example, Charlotte Lucas on marriage: “If a woman conceals her affection … from the object of it, she may lose the opportunity of fixing him. … In nine cases out of ten, a woman had better show more affection than she feels.”
Austen attacks society’s practice of taking pleasure in others’ ills, and the mean-spirited gossip-mongers that inhabit society.
First-person narration
"I wish I could say, for the sake of her family, that the accomplishment of her earnest desire in the establishment of so many of her children produced so happy an effect as to make her a sensible, amiable, well-informed woman for the rest of her life."
``My dear Mr. Bennet,'' said his lady to him one day, ``have you heard that Netherfield Park is let at last?''
Mr. Bennet replied that he had not.
``But it is,'' returned she; ``for Mrs. Long has just been here, and she told me all about it.''
Mr. Bennet made no answer.
``Do not you want to know who has taken it?'' cried his wife impatiently.
``You want to tell me, and I have no objection to hearing it.''
"• Elizabeth could not help observing [...] how frequently Mr. Darcy’s eyes were fixed on her. She hardly knew how to suppose that she could be an object of admiration to so great man; and yet that he should look at her because he disliked her was still more strange "
The title of the novel...
It is Darcy who is supposed to have the pride and Elizabeth who is supposed to have the prejudice. But in her misunderstandings with Darcy, she (who is blind to her own pride in her ability to read character and to her vanity that guides her prejudices) accuses him of excessive pride, while he (who is prejudiced against people with less money than he has) accuses her of prejudice.

The irony is present since the very first line of the novel:
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”
All about the nerves...
“This is a parade which does one good; it gives such an elegance to misfortune! Another day I will do the same; I will sit in my library, in my night cap and powdering gown, and give as much trouble as I can, - or, perhaps, I may defer it, till Kitty runs away”.
Elizabeth’s playful irony is for her both a defense against others whose faults she can perceive, and a weapon which she uses to condemn them for these faults. In the war against stupidity, she uses irony to skewer the negative traits she is quick to find in people.
When Miss Bingley accuses Elizabeth of being ‘one of those young ladies who seek to recommend themselves to the other sex, by undervaluing their own,' Mr. Darcy’s ironic response that “there is meanness in all the arts which ladies sometimes condescend to employ for captivation”
She criticizes the contrast between Wickham’s duplicity and Darcy’s honesty to Jane: “There certainly was some great mismanagement in the education of those two young men. One has got all the goodness, and the other all the appearance of it.”
“I have always seen a great similarity in the turn of our minds. We are both of an unsocial, taciturn disposition, unwilling to speak, unless we expect to say something that will amaze the whole room”.
"I am perfectly convinced by it that Mr. Darcy has no defect. He owns it himself without disguise."
"You had better go on horseback, because it seems likely to rain and you must stay all night"
She uses irony to shake her major figures of their self-deception and to expose the hypocrisy and pretentiousness, absurdity and insanity of some of her minor figures. It is definitely possible to deduce from her works a scheme of moral values.

"The idea of Mr. Collins, with all his solemn composure, being run away with by his feelings, made Elizabeth so near laughing that she could not use the short pause he allowed in any attempt to stop him farther, and he continued"
"Do not make yourself uneasy, my dear cousin, about your apparel. Lady Catherine is far form requiring that elegance of dress in us which becomes herself and daughter. I would advise you merely to put on whatever of your clothes is superior to the rest ...she likes to have the distinction of rank preserved"
"A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half deserved.''

``All this she must possess,'' added Darcy, ``and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.''

``I am no longer surprised at your knowing only six accomplished women. I rather wonder now at your knowing any.''
``they are all silly and ignorant like other girls; but Lizzy has something more of quickness than her sisters.''

``Mr. Bennet, how can you abuse your own children in such way? You take delight in vexing me. You have no compassion on my poor nerves.''

``You mistake me, my dear. I have a high respect for your nerves. They are my old friends. I have heard you mention them with consideration these twenty years at least.''
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