Irony and Influence: A Presumptive Tale of Pride and Prejudice

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Articles

  1. Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice (Bloom's Guides) - PDF Free Download
  2. Character Analysis : ' Pride And Prejudice '
  3. Essay on the Metamorphosis in Pride and Prejudice
  4. Pride and Prejudice Essay: The Character of Elizabeth
  5. In Jane Austen, fairy tales meet biting feminist critiques

Darcy instead of Elizabeth Bennet.


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In this fanciful ver- sion of Pride and Prejudice, instead of seeing Darcy through Elizabeth's eyes, readers would have full access to his self-deceptions, excuses, and follies. Darcy, of course, would still be "proud, However, so that Austen would not seem to be recycling her characters and plots, she would obscure this hypothetical revision by reversing the gender of all the main characters: the role of Darcy would be turned into a woman, the role of Elizabeth into a man, and so on. The newly created heiress would still be "handsome" PP 10 , "clever" PP 16 , and "'rich"' PP , with a "com- fort[able]" home in Pemberley PP , and a disposition to be "happy" once she gets what she wants PP 3 At this point, we must stop and note that the result bears a striking resemblance to another Austen novel, Emma.

The coincidence between the novels is that of a mirror image, something reversed in the process of reflection as an object is by a mirror. Mirroring as a literary technique differs from the inclusion of stock characters, such as the incapable mothers Mrs. Dashwood, Mrs.

Bennet, Lady Bertram , or idle ne'er- do-wells Willoughby, Mr. Wickham, Henry Crawford , who wear superim- posed similarities from novel to novel. Inverting the characters in this way makes gender pivotal, positioning it as a central theme of the novel. As Austen's "concern with. Through gender, Austen examines preconceptions about how men and women are similar in- ternally or individually , how they differ externally or socially , and what happens when someone does not quite fit the expected social pattern of gen- dered behavior.

The use of gender in Emma and the possible sources of inspi- ration for this whimsical topsy-turvy- the works of Samuel Richardson, Henry Fielding, William Shakespeare, and the Reverend James Fordyce-re- veal the truly remarkable depths in Austen's insight and writing. The reversed-gender mirroring of Pride and Prejudice in Emma is exten- sive.

It begins with the two proud figures, Darcy and Emma, both of whom are "handsome, clever, and rich" E 5. Both receive too much deference from the world, causing them to suffer from "the power of having rather too much [ their] own way, and a disposition to think a little too well of [ themselves]" E 5. As a result, both believe, at least initially, that whomever they love must likewise be in love with them; in Pride and PreJudice, the one assumed smitten is Elizabeth Bennet, and in Emma, Frank Churchill.

Neither Darcy nor Emma needs to marry to improve financial situation or social position. Both reside at fine estates Pemberley and Hartfield with a single relative in their care; these dependents are Georgiana Darcy, Darcy's younger sister, and Mr. Woodhouse, Emma's childish father.

Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice (Bloom's Guides) - PDF Free Download

Both Darcy and Emma interfere in the lives of close and easily influenced friends, Mr. Bingley and Harriet Smith, to prevent matches deemed imprudent in terms of connections. Finally, each falls in love wi th his or her critic, a sensible person whose pointed disapproval will materi- ally correct the flaws of pride and self-centeredness.

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If the reversed-gender mirroring of the two novels is unobtrusive, there are good reasons for it. One is that Emma is fully developed as a novel in its own right, with inimitable characters and unique locations, to realize Austen's trademark naturalness and consistency. The heroine is no one-dimensional figure, nor is the work itself a parody of Pride and Prejudice.

Austen was cer- tainly capable of parody, as evidenced by her j uvenilia and Northanger Abbey. Parody, however, typically retains an elevated style while abusing its subject. If there is any such abuse of its subject or hinting at the original in Emma, it is far too subtle for detection as parody.

Another reason for the unobtrusive mirroring is point of view, the perspective Austen uses to tell the two stories. The point of view from which the two proud characters ar e seen is significantly altered from one novel to the next. Darcy is seen mainly through Elizabeth Bennet's eyes, while Emma ad- mits the reader to her internal consciousness. The external or internal per- spective makes a notable difference to how Darcy and Emma are perceived and judged: Elizabeth's external criticism of Darcy is generally severe while Emma's internal criticism of herself is either light or nonexistent.

Austen thus accurately renders the real-life tendency of people to be less apt to see and more inclined to forgive their own faults than those of others. The most significant reason the mirroring is unobtrusive, however, is the reversal of gender, which subjects the characters to the very different ex- pectations Austen's society held for men and women. An action performed by a woman is perceived differently than when performed by a man: Bingley's "'sweet tempered"' affability in allowing D arcy to dissuade him from connect- ing with the Bennets PP 82 becomes in Harriet a gullible foolishness as she refuses Robert Martin on Emma's advice.

T emperaments are also perceived differently. Darcy, for example, is "haughty" PP 16 , but his responsibilities and position as a "'great m[an]'" entitle him to be so PP Society may disap- prove but suffers his behavior, dismissing it as mere '"whimsical[ ity] in his ci- vilities'" PP The same flaw in Emma, however, makes her endearingly obtuse one moment and unselfconsciously self-absorbed and manipulative the next. Her behavior is not excused '"without a remons trance'" E ; if not repaired, Emma's insolence to Miss Bates and her wrongheaded advice to Harriet Smith will materially damage the social and financial wellbeing of her acquaintances.

Character Analysis : ' Pride And Prejudice '

Emma's greater potential to cause damage is ironic, g iven that her sphere of influence as a woman is so much smaller than Darcy's as a man. Gender, the mirror's reference, is a constructed social status, the same conceptual categor y as social rank, another common Austenian theme. In Austen's day, "the sex-gender system was not yet stabilized in modern terms," but the differences between genders were found then, as they are today, in be- havior, social expectations, and the "radically different privileges and opportu- nities" that the "culture Individual men and women behave more or less in conformance with the social permissions and prohibitions applied to all men and women, and it is easier for some to con- form thus than for others.

This insight would have been easy fo r Austen, a keen and critical observer of social behavior, especially since she did not fit the pattern herself, being "that sin g ular anomaly, the lady novelist" Gi lbert -with an emphasis on every sense of singular. In terms of cons tructed social gender, Emma is remarkably similar to D arcy. They have, in Rankin's formulation, the "identical nature, nurture, and social rank" : both are proud but worthy, indulgently parented, an d gen- try of importance within thei r respective circles.

Essay on the Metamorphosis in Pride and Prejudice

Just as Darcy inter- feres with Bingley's courtship, Emma assumes she knows what is best for oth- ers an d confidently meddl es, as exemplified by her blithe interference in Harriet's marital decisions. Emma is relatively free from male authority; she has social prominence within an admittedly small circle , the responsi bility of caring for another adult, and, as she explains to Harriet, relief from the need to marry for financial or social advantage E She speaks to Mr.

Knightley as an equal Moffat 46 : '"We always say what we like to one another'" E While she may mean well, she is - to phrase it delicately- not as considerate as she might be of the feelings of others, as in the tactlessness with which she refuses Mr. This hubristic presumption is wh at makes Emma unconventional.

Pride and Prejudice Essay: The Character of Elizabeth

She does not fully conform to socio-gen- der expectations for women, allowing Aus ten to explore Emma's natu re as woman "untrammeled by th e customs of femininity" Dusinberre 27 1. Austen concludes that, as individ ual s, women are similar to men in many respects, once the externals of gen der have been stripped away.

Externally or socially, however, the differences between the genders are many. Austen probes the more subtle socio-gender differences in Emnw, many of which go unremarked be- cause they are manifestations of gender norms and are considered or unthink- ingly accepted as appropriate.

D arcy is "'not to be laughed at'" PP 57 , but Emma clearly is, a circumstance that cannot be dismissed solely as a consequence of her clumsy cluelessness. Emma's receipt of guid- ance from Mr. Knightley also seems entirely natural, reinforcing the uncon- ventionality of Mr. Darcy receiving- from a woman, no less- the sound criticism of his ungentlemanly behavior that shakes his complacency and helps him mature as an individual. Society affords D arcy and Emma different opportunities. For all her un- conventional ad vantages unconventional, that is, for a woman , Emma is as stereotypically idle as any woman of the gentry class; in her case, '"[w]oman's us ual occupations of eye and hand and mind"' are '"draw[ ing],"' '"read[ ing],"' '"music Emma's geography is similarly restricted.

She has "never been to Box Hill," which is less than ten miles from Hartfield E , and, prior to the strawberry picnic, she has "long [been absent from Donwell] Abbey" E , only "about a mile from High bury," the "village..

In Jane Austen, fairy tales meet biting feminist critiques

Her geographic limits are all the more claustrophobic when Darcy's travels are considered: London, Hertfordshire, D erbyshire, and Kent. Emma's talents and energy, under the gender restrictions of idleness and a small, unvaried environment, make her bored; her boredom inspires her to act, and when she does, she gets herself and others into trouble. The solu- tion, little as the modern reader may like to admit it, is for Emma to conform more fully to the gender norms for women of the time: she must attend more diligently to "'a habit of self-command Ironically, Emma offers Harriet this very same advice.

Austen explores and tests the limits of gender norms in Emma, causing small social disruptions. Georgiana Darcy's dependency in Pride and Pn;judice, however appropriate for her age and gender, differs from that of Mr. Wood- house in Emma. His passive dependency is equally inappropriate on those same grounds, highlig hting the pathetic ridiculousness of adult dependency in general. What is brought under scrutiny is the patriarchal system that forced healthy, capable women into this condition in Austen's day, as well as the fact that women are s till the more frequen t caretakers of elderly parents.

She nonetheless toys with the notion, declaring, '"I am not only, not going to be married, at present, but have very little intention of ever marrying at all'" E Darcy moves to Pemberley to reside with her husband PP , but when Mr. Knightley reverses the marital residence pattern by moving into Hartfield, it creates a social dissonance that resonates even today, illuminating the expectation that women follow their husbands into marriage and provok- ing thought of what women give up once they wed that men do not.

By not materially changing her situation at Hartfield when she marries Mr. Knight- ley who becomes complicit by acceding to her wishes , Emma overturns so- cial expectations of gender in a way that could be considered "disruptive" Dusinberre Other interpretations of these matters are certainly possible, and they may be more typical as well.

Knightley's moving into Hartfield, for exam- ple, is explained away in the novel. Emma simply cannot bring herself to leave her father, and neighborhood robberies-"Mrs. Weston's poultry-house [is] robbed one night of all her turkies" and "[o]ther poultry-yards in the neigh- bourhood also suffered"-necessitate that Mr. Knightley provide "protection" for the household E This interpretation remains somewhat unsatis- factory because of the artificiality of the plot device, though one is clearly needed to enable Emma to marry while simultaneously continuing to care for her father without traumatizing him by moving him from his home; moreover, the fact that an explanation is needed highlights the discomfort with gender norm di sruptions inherent in the situation.

In the childlike need for care and trivial amusements of Mr. Woodhouse-"[b]ooks of engravings, drawers of medals, cameos, corals, shells, and every other family collection within [Mr. Knightley's] cabinets" are offered as an indoor alternative to the picnic E -there may be only humor, the gentle mocking of the hypochondriac that Austen would explore further in Sanditon.

It is also evident that Emma needs and can only benefit from Mr. Knightley's advice; he is, after all, older and wiser than she is, and she "makes mistakes She also makes more [ mistakes] than she needs, [ when] Ultimately, Emma's taking advice from and then marrying Mr. Knigh tley are emphatic confi rmations of social norms, even though his moving to Hartfield manages to shake them up a bit. Emma's independence, for example, implies something about the capabilities of all women, a tacit criticism of patriarchal limits; Mr. Knightley's rational flexibility suggests the system need not be absolu te.

Any answer must be sought in the context of Austenian morality. Austen's hero- ines, including Emma, find their "moral progress [ in] discerning, and submit- ting to, the claims of the society around them" Butler 1. Emma's flirtation with social disruption can only be temporary. Emma does marry, and at some future date, there will be no need for Mr. Knightley to continue at Hartfield.


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Knightley will undoubtedly reside with her husband at Donwell Abbey, and Emma the unconventional heroine will disappear into the unremarkability of full compliance with social conventions. Austen is not offering the same level of moral criticism that one finds in The Wind Done Gone, the so-called parodic rejoinder to the antebellum mythology of Gone with the Wind; after reading Alice Randall on the horrific injustices of slavery, one might fear the nation's racial divide is too deep ever to be healed.

In contrast, Austen's cri- tique of patriarchy is much more hopeful. Emma's reformation echoes Darcy's; the commonsense wisdom of Mr. Knightley is also Elizabeth Bennet's, and these happy resolutions help to recall the good that is in men and women alike. Austen's solution to the eternal war between the sexes is the uniting of hearts and minds in marriage. If the denouement, the union of Emma and Mr. Knightley, is a trifle awkward or dissatisfying, it is an accord nonetheless, one of the most conventional type, and the issues of where the Knightleys initially resided and their reasons for it will likely be soon resolved and conveniently forgotten.

Social norms are ultimately reinfo rced, and in this respect, Emma is no different from Austen's other novels. Austen-like most if not all authors of more than a single novel- learned from and reacted to her own work and that of others in developing Emma. Artistically, the novel displays in full her impressive attainments in her craft, including her ability to represent things with a layered complexity that admits the reader to different depths of understanding, emulating the process of discovery that is life.

The characters play multiple, shifting roles and comi- cally misunderstand each other, highlighting Austen's skillful use of ambigui- ties in identity and point of view to subtly highlight gender. The identities of many of the characters are ambiguous: the "[s] ocial and familial roles [ of the characters] Miss Taylor" Berend sen 1. While these are ambi guities of relationship to Emma, E mma's identity in regard to gender is ambiguous.

She is endowed with a man's advantages and a woman's circumscriptions; her gen- der also morphs as she shifts, for example, from being a woman who neither needs nor wants to marry atypically feminine , to being one in love who mus t wait fo r the man to declare himself fi rst stereotypically fe minine E Points of view, here in the sense of the perspectives from which individu- als see or consider things, are also ambiguous as the characters say one th ing and are misunderstood to mean another, misunders tandings that can embroil the reader as well and which ser ve to reveal the characters' psychology.

An ex- ample is found in the discussion between Emma and Mr.

Elton concerning Harriet's health: "'a throat very much inflamed, with a great deal of heat Emma th inks Mr. Elton means he is worried about H arriet. He, however, is con- cer ned with Emma, and his speech may be interpreted ei ther in the way Emma does or in the way Mr. E lton intends. The reader may see only Emma's point of view-at least upon readin g the novel for the first time-and is thereby excl uded from the actuality of what the other character intends, becoming in- volved in Emma's process of interpretation and discovery.

What these girls fail to realize is that the fairytales are laced with insults to women. All of the desireable women in the stories have long hair, tiny waists, and sparkly dresses. The princess is powerless and patient while the prince is brave and controlling. Each fairytale ends with the marriage of the princess and prince. To simplify her studies, and to give her readers a better understanding of the concept of Pride and Prejudice, Austen does not focus our attention on the larger social structure as a whole, but skilfully directs our consideration only to a small, isolated segment of the society.

In Pride and Prejudice, Austen scrutinizes a microcosm, people dwelling within similar cultural and social backgrounds, but representatives of the larger human community Better Essays words 5. The protagonist of the book is Elizabeth Bennet who is a very high spirited and opinionated person who has no problem speaking her mind. Jane Bennet, Elizabeth 's older sister, who while she is a secondary character, is very important to the story and helps to drive the story forward with her sub plat which adds to the plot of the book.

Both, Pride and Prejudice, the novel and Pride and Prejudice, the movie have similarities and differences between them. One of the major differences between Pride and Prejudice, the novel and Pride and Prejudice, the movie is the fact that Pride and Prejudice, the novel has narration, whereas Pride and Prejudice, the movie does not Treading dangerous territory, those who wish to delve into complacencyself-satisfaction must make sure that they use their pride to bloom, not wither.

If pride grows uncontrollable like ivy up a brick house, the home becomes tainted and inhabitable; exterminating the source is almost impossible. Better Essays words 4. In 19th-Century Victorian England, the views of namely women were suppressed, and life paths were often created for them. Austen indirectly speaks out against such action by showing how truly distorted a view can become because of what outsiders are telling the person who holds it.