Pride and Prejudice is a masterpiece of English classics. The depth of the plot, the relatability of events and the soul of reality which the author, Jane Austen, has injected in it is mesmerizing. It is not just another story to pass your time, but it is writing to live hand-in-hand with. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin is an amazing contribution to the development of social realism all the way from the 17th century to this era.
Pride and Prejudice is a story of love and life of English landed gentry during 17th century. Head of the family is Mr. Bennet, an English gentleman living with his overbearing wife Hertfordshire. The couple has 5 daughters; the beautiful Jane, the clever Elizabeth, the bookish Mary, the immature Kitty, and the wild Lydia. According to the law of the time, after the death of Mr. Bennet, the girls will not get anything from the property of their father, so good future of Bennets will be contingent upon their daughters making good marriages. Story of the Novel starts with the arrival of Mr. Bingley in the neighboring estate. Mr. Bingley’s sister and a friend of him Mr. Dracy also comes to live with them. Love is soon in the air for one of the Bennet sisters, while another may have jumped to a hasty prejudgment. For the Bennet sisters, many trials and tribulations stand between them and their happiness, including class, gossip, and scandal.
Jane Austen in her novel Pride and prejudice carves out a private space for the reader. Like most of the other authors and even her own other novels too, she doesn’t limit a reader to the events of the story, but she has left a window open in every turning point to let her reader indulge fantasies and work over their own moral dilemmas through the activates of the characters.
A critic, David Gallop, once discussing the plot of Pride and Prejudice, said,
“In Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen is an ironist rather than a didactic writer. Her readers are less often told what to think than left to draw their conclusions. Jane Austen is unsurpassed as a creator of dialogue, her narrative voice admittedly tells us far more about her characters, and her attitudes to them, than their words alone would convey. This story portrays some of the most delicious effects by placing words or thoughts in reported speech, thus filtering them through the narrator’s ironic perspective.”
This novel combines social realism with certain moral seriousness. The activities of her characters are the activities of normal daily life, not the story of an abnormal abandoned baby who gets kidnapped, sent to seas, join a party of pirates and adventures he went through which are non-realistic.
Pride and prejudice is a beautifully decorated story with interesting, entertaining and amusing events, other relatable things like falling in love, the relationship between parents and children, getting on with neighbors and trying to work out what means us well and what is not – the ordinary morality of life.
She only touched those areas of life which we people can relate in our everyday life, where the most important things for the girls were How to dress up for the upcoming ball? How to make someone fall for her? Look for any minor reason to hold a ball etc. Jane Austen was not describing a fractional distillation of her society but something obvious to think of. A reader of any time can recognize her characters as people all around.
In the story, along with all the events going on, Austen chooses the mentality of Elizabeth as the depiction of her own thoughts. All the girls in the society were expected to be multi-talented and somehow a perfect partner. She should be a keen reader, intelligent, smart, must have superficial manners and have the attractive personality to find a good match but the man should have to be just a man to marry a girl with all good habits. Elizabeth finds this to be quite weird and question herself. Jane Austen paved her way to the match of souls, match of the line of thoughts should be a perfect reason to fall in love and to go for good marriage rather than the wealth of one and persona of other.
“Only virtuous friendship could do that, but vice prevents both recognizing and attracting virtuous friends. Falling in love, though, as suggested by Jane Austen in Pride and Prejudice, provides our perception flexibility that facilitates character improvement, and the rarity of an appropriate spouse can motivate its accomplishment.”(Erin Stackle)
Pride and prejudice also give us the picture of limited freedom of women in the 17th century. But if we think we will come to know that no one in this world has complete freedom. We always have someone to watch us. This also introduces another perspective of this story; that is the culture of gossip and judgment of folks around.
The story of pride and prejudice is sometimes criticized for being very much like typical Jane Austen writings; People percept it as an exaggeration of traditional and class-conscious life of 17th century. Being the reader of the 21st century, we may find it an amplification, but she was not a historian, she was not looking back at the past, she was living in crux of that era. We cannot discredit the plot of the novel as a mere historian’s nostalgic exaggeration, rather absorbing it as sensitive observation of the writer’s surrounding who is incorporated very much related to her characters.
Thus, it will not be misleading to say that the world we see in Pride and prejudice is the core of values of her time which consequently leads to the modern world. It presents precisely the conservative moral core of her class.