Pride and Prejudice

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Pride and Prejudice
PrideAndPrejudiceTitlePage.jpg
Author Jane Austen
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Publisher T. Egerton, Whitehall
Publication date
28 January 1813
Media type Print (Hardback, 3 volumes)
OCLC 38659585
823.7
Preceded by Sense and Sensibility
Followed by Mansfield Park

Pride and Prejudice is a romance novel by Jane Austen, first published in 1813. The story charts the emotional development of the protagonist, Elizabeth Bennet, who learns the error of making hasty judgements and comes to appreciate the difference between the superficial and the essential. The comedy of the writing lies in the depiction of manners, education, and marriage and money in the British Regency.

Mr Bennet of the Longbourn estate has five daughters, but his property is entailed, meaning that none of the girls can inherit it. Since his wife had no fortune, it is imperative that one of the girls marries well in order to support the others on his death. However, Jane Austen's opening line, “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife" is a sentence filled with irony and playfulness. The novel revolves around the necessity of marrying for love, not simply for monetary reasons, despite the social pressures to make a good (i.e. wealthy) match.

Pride and Prejudice retains the fascination of modern readers, consistently appearing near the top of lists of "most-loved books" among both literary scholars and the general public. It has become one of the most popular novels in English literature, with over 20 million copies sold, and paved the way[specify] for many archetypes that abound in modern literature. Continuing interest in the book has resulted in a number of dramatic adaptations and an abundance of novels and stories imitating Austen's memorable characters or themes.[1] The 2005 film, Pride and Prejudice, starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen is the most recent Hollywood adaption of the book.

Plot summary[edit]

The novel opens with Mrs Bennet trying to persuade Mr Bennet to visit an eligible bachelor, Mr Bingley, who has arrived in the neighbourhood. After some verbal sparring with Mr Bennet baiting his wife, it transpires that this visit has taken place at Netherfield (Mr Bingley's rented house). The visit is followed by an invitation to a ball at the local assembly rooms that the whole neighbourhood will attend.

At the ball, Mr Bingley is open and cheerful, popular with all the guests, and appears to be very attracted to the beautiful Miss Jane Bennet. His friend, Mr Darcy, is reputed to be twice as wealthy; however, he is haughty and aloof. He declines to dance with Elizabeth, suggesting that she is not pretty enough to tempt him.[2] She finds this amusing and jokes about the statement with her friends. Jane also attracts the attention of Mr Bingley's sister Caroline, who invites her to visit.

Jane visits Miss Bingley and is caught in a rain shower on the way, catching a serious cold. Elizabeth, out of genuine concern for her sister's well being, visits her sister there. This is the point at which Darcy begins to see the attraction of Elizabeth, and Miss Bingley is shown to be jealous of Elizabeth since she wants to marry Darcy herself.

Illustration by Hugh Thomson representing Mr Collins, protesting that he never reads novels

Mr Collins, a cousin of Mr Bennet and heir to the Longbourn estate, visits the Bennet family. He is a pompous and obsequious clergyman because he expects each of the Bennet girls to wish to marry him due to his inheritance. He plans to propose to Elizabeth over Jane as he is led to believe Jane is taken.

Elizabeth and her family meet the dashing and charming Mr Wickham who singles out Elizabeth and tells her a story of the hardship that Mr Darcy has caused him by depriving him of a living (position as clergyman in a prosperous parish with good revenue that, once granted, is for life) promised to him by Mr Darcy's late father. Elizabeth's dislike of Mr Darcy is confirmed.[2]

At a ball at which Mr Wickham is not present, Elizabeth dances with Mr Darcy rather against her will. Other than Jane and Elizabeth, all the members of the Bennet family show their lack of decorum. Mrs Bennet states loudly that she expects Jane and Bingley to become engaged and each member of the family exposes the whole to ridicule.

The following morning, Mr Collins proposes to Elizabeth. She rejects him, to the fury of her mother and the relief of her father. They receive news that the Bingleys are leaving for London, and that Mr Collins has proposed to Charlotte Lucas, a sensible young woman and Elizabeth's friend. She is slightly older and is grateful to receive a proposal that will guarantee her a home. Elizabeth is aghast at such pragmatism in matters of love.

Jane goes to visit her Aunt and Uncle Gardiner at an unfashionable address in London. Miss Bingley clearly does not want to continue the friendship and Jane is upset though very composed.

In the spring, Elizabeth visits Charlotte and Mr Collins in Kent. Elizabeth and her hosts are frequently invited to Rosings Park, the imposing home of Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Lady Catherine is Mr Darcy's aunt and extremely wealthy. She expects Mr Darcy to marry her daughter. Mr Darcy and his cousin, Colonel FitzWilliam, visit Lady Catherine. Colonel FitzWilliam tells Elizabeth how Mr Darcy managed to save a friend from a bad match by convincing the friend of the lady's indifference. Elizabeth is horrified at Darcy's involvement in an affair which has caused her sister so much pain. Mr Darcy, however, has fallen in love with Elizabeth and proposes to her. She rejects him, stating that she could not love a man who has caused her sister such unhappiness, and accuses him of treating Mr Wickham unjustly. Mr Darcy accuses her family of wanting propriety and suggests he has been kinder to Bingley than himself. Both are furious and they part barely speaking.

The following morning, Mr Darcy gives Elizabeth a letter that explains that his treatment of Mr Wickham was caused by the fact that Mr Wickham refused the living and was compensated economically, but then proceeded to waste all the money and then, impoverished, demanded the living again with threats. After being refused, he tried to elope with Darcy's 15-year-old sister Georgiana for her great dowry, as Colonel FitzWilliam could also attest. He also claimed that he believed that Jane who, despite her amiability, is actually a bit reserved, did not love Mr Bingley. Darcy apologises for hurting Jane and Elizabeth begins to rejudge Mr Darcy on a clearer basis.

Elizabeth tells her father that Darcy was responsible for uniting Lydia and Wickham, one of the two earliest illustrations of Pride and Prejudice.[3] The clothing styles reflect the time the illustration was engraved (the 1830s), not the time in which the novel was written or set.

Some months later, Elizabeth and her Aunt and Uncle Gardiner visit Darcy's estate in Derbyshire, Pemberley. While there Elizabeth hears the housekeeper describe him as being kind and generous. When Mr Darcy returns unexpectedly, he is overwhelmingly kind and civil and invites Elizabeth and the Gardiners to meet his sister and go fishing. Elizabeth is surprised and delighted by the kindness to herself and her aunt and uncle. However, she suddenly has news from Longbourn that her sister Lydia had eloped with Mr Wickham. She tells Mr Darcy immediately and departs in haste, believing she will never see him again as Lydia's disgrace would ruin the family's good name.

After an agonizing wait, Mr Wickham is persuaded to marry Lydia with only the payment of debts required. With some degree of decency restored, Lydia visits Elizabeth and tells her that Mr Darcy was at the wedding. Mrs Gardiner informs Elizabeth that it is Mr Darcy who has made the match and hints that he may have a motive for doing so.

At this point, Mr Bingley and Mr Darcy return to Netherfield. Bingley proposes to Jane and is accepted, much to the delight of all. Lady Catherine, under the impression that she is going to marry Mr Darcy, visits Elizabeth and demands that she promise not to accept him. Elizabeth makes no such promise and Lady Catherine leaves outraged by her perceived insolence. Darcy and Elizabeth go for a walk together and they become engaged. Elizabeth then has to convince her father that she is not marrying for money, and it is only after she speaks about Mr Darcy's true worth that he is happy about the wedding.

Main characters[edit]

Scenes from "Pride and Prejudice", by C. E. Brock
Elizabeth and Mr Darcy by Hugh Thomson, 1894
  • Elizabeth Bennet - the second of the Bennet daughters, she is twenty years old and intelligent, lively, playful, attractive, and witty—but with a tendency to judge on first impressions. As the story progresses, so does her relationship with Mr Darcy. The course of Elizabeth and Darcy's relationship is ultimately decided when Darcy overcomes his pride, and Elizabeth overcomes her prejudice, leading them both to surrender to their love for each other.
  • Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy - the wealthy friend of Mr Bingley. A newcomer to the village, he is ultimately Elizabeth Bennet's love interest. Mr Darcy is the twenty-eight year old wealthy owner of the renowned family estate of Pemberley in Derbyshire, and is rumoured to be worth at least £10,000 a year. While being handsome, tall, and intelligent, Darcy lacks ease and social graces, and so others frequently mistake his aloof decorum and rectitude as further proof of excessive pride (which, in part, it is).
  • Mr Bennet - A late-middle-aged landed gentleman of a modest income of £2000 per annum, and the dryly sarcastic patriarch of the now-dwindling Bennet family (a family of Hertfordshire landed gentry), with five unmarried daughters. His estate, Longbourn, is entailed to the male line.
  • Mrs Bennet - the middle-aged wife of her social superior, Mr Bennet, and the mother of their five daughters. Mrs Bennet is a hypochondriac who imagines herself susceptible to attacks of tremors and palpitations ("[her] poor nerves"), whenever things are not going her way. Her main ambition in life is to marry her daughters off to wealthy men. Whether or not any such matches will give her daughters happiness is of little concern to her.
In a letter to Cassandra dated May 1813, Jane Austen describes a picture she saw at a gallery which was a good likeness of "Mrs Bingley" – Jane Bennet. Deirdre Le Faye in The World of Her Novels suggests that "Portrait of Mrs Q-" is the picture Austen was referring to. (pp. 201-203)
  • Jane Bennet - the eldest Bennet sister. Twenty-two years old when the novel begins, she is considered the most beautiful young lady in the neighbourhood and is inclined to see only the good in others. She falls in love with Charles Bingley, a rich young gentleman recently moved to Hertfordshire and a close friend of Mr Darcy.
  • Mary Bennet - the middle Bennet sister, and the plainest of her siblings. Mary has a serious disposition and mostly reads and plays music, although she is often impatient to display her accomplishments and is rather vain about them. She frequently moralises to her family. According to James Edward Austen-Leigh's A Memoir of Jane Austen, Mary ended up marrying one of her Uncle Philips' law clerks and moving into Meryton with him.
  • Catherine "Kitty" Bennet - The fourth Bennet daughter at 17 years old. Though older than Lydia, she is her shadow and follows her in her pursuit of the officers of the militia. She is often portrayed as envious of Lydia and is described a "silly" young woman. However, it is said that she improved when removed from Lydia's influence. According to James Edward Austen-Leigh's A Memoir of Jane Austen, Kitty later married a clergyman who lived near Pemberley.
  • Lydia Bennet - the youngest Bennet sister, aged 15 when the novel begins. She is frivolous and headstrong. Her main activity in life is socializing, especially flirting with the officers of the militia. This leads to her running off with George Wickham, although he has no intention of marrying her. Lydia shows no regard for the moral code of her society; as Ashley Tauchert says, she "feels without reasoning."[4]
  • Charles Bingley - a handsome, amiable, wealthy young gentleman who leases Netherfield Park, an estate three miles from Longbourn, with the hopes of purchasing it. He is contrasted with Mr Darcy for having more generally pleasing manners, although he is reliant on his more experienced friend for advice. He lacks resolve and is easily influenced by others; his two sisters, Miss Caroline Bingley and Mrs Louisa Hurst, both disapprove of Bingley's growing affection for Miss Jane Bennet.
  • Caroline Bingley - the vainglorious, snobbish sister of Charles Bingley, with a dowry of £20,000. Miss Bingley harbours designs upon Mr Darcy, and therefore is jealous of his growing attachment to Elizabeth. She attempts to dissuade Mr Darcy from liking Elizabeth by ridiculing the Bennet family and criticising Elizabeth's comportment. Miss Bingley also disapproves of her brother's esteem for Jane Bennet, and is disdainful of society in Meryton.
  • George Wickham - Wickham has been acquainted with Mr Darcy since infancy, being the son of Mr Darcy's father's steward. An officer in the militia, he is superficially charming and rapidly forms an attachment with Elizabeth Bennet. He later runs off with Lydia with no intention of marriage, which would have resulted in her complete disgrace, but for Darcy's intervention to bribe Wickham to marry her by paying off his immediate debts.
  • Mr William Collins -Mr Collins, aged 25 years old as the novel begins, is Mr Bennet's distant second cousin, a clergyman, and the current heir presumptive to his estate of Longbourn House. He is an obsequious and pompous man who is excessively devoted to his patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh.
  • Lady Catherine de Bourgh- the overbearing aunt of Mr Darcy. Lady Catherine is the wealthy owner of Rosings Park, where she resides with her daughter Anne and is fawned upon by her rector, Mr Collins. She is haughty, pompous, domineering, and condescending, and has long planned to marry off her sickly daughter to Darcy, to 'unite their two great estates', claiming it to be the dearest wish of both her AND her late sister, Lady Anne Darcy (née Fitzwilliam).
  • Mr Edward and Mrs M Gardiner - Edward Gardiner is Mrs Bennet's brother and a successful tradesman of sensible and gentlemanly character. Aunt Gardiner is genteel and elegant, and is close to her nieces Jane and Elizabeth. The Gardiners are instrumental in bringing about the marriage between Darcy and Elizabeth.
  • Georgiana Darcy - Georgiana is Mr Darcy's quiet, amiable (and shy) younger sister, with a dowry of £30,000, and is aged barely 16-years-old when the story begins. When still 15, Miss Darcy almost eloped with Mr Wickham, but was saved by her brother, who she idolises. Thanks to years of tutorage under masters, she is accomplished at the piano, singing, playing the harp, and drawing, and modern languages, and is therefore described as Caroline Bingley's idea of an 'accomplished woman'.
  • Charlotte Lucas is Elizabeth's friend who, at 27 years old (and thus past prime marriage age), fears becoming a burden to her family and therefore agrees to marry Mr Collins to gain financial security. Though the novel stresses the importance of love and understanding in marriage, Austen never seems to condemn Charlotte's decision to marry for money. She uses Charlotte to convey how women of her time would adhere to society's expectation for women to marry even if it is not out of love, but convenience.[5] Charlotte is the daughter of Sir William Lucas and Lady Lucas, friends of Mrs Bennet.
  • Louisa Hurst - the older sister to Caroline Bingley and Charles Bingley, and wife of Mr Hurst, coming into the marriage with a £20,000 dowry. She and her sister are described in the novel as "fine women, with an air of decided fashion",[this quote needs a citation] and are also disdainful of society in Meryton, Hertfordshire. Like Caroline, she does not encourage her brother's admiration of Jane Bennet because of her lack of connections, and co-conspired with Caroline and Mr Darcy to keep Charles and Jane apart.
  • Mr Hurst - the husband of Louisa Hurst, and thus the brother-in-law of Charles Bingley and Caroline Bingley. He is described as 'a man of more fashion than fortune', and as an indolent man, often drunk, who lives only to eat, sleep, pass-out drunk, and consume alcohol.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Philips - Mr. Phillips is an attorney, who has a practice in Meryton, which he inherited from his late father-in-law, Mr. Gardiner Sr., having formerly been one of his law clerks before marrying his boss's daughter. Mrs Philips (née Gardiner) is much like her sister, Mrs Bennet; silly, unintelligent and a gossip. She often entertains her nieces, and other guests, in her parlour at her and her husband's residence in Meryton.

Interrelationships[edit]

A comprehensive web showing the relationships between the main characters in Pride and Prejudice

Major themes[edit]

Many critics take the novel's title as a starting point when analysing the major themes of Pride and Prejudice; however, Robert Fox cautions against reading too much into the title because commercial factors may have played a role in its selection. "After the success of Sense and Sensibility, nothing would have seemed more natural than to bring out another novel of the same author using again the formula of antithesis and alliteration for the title. It should be pointed out that the qualities of the title are not exclusively assigned to one or the other of the protagonists; both Elizabeth and Darcy display pride and prejudice."[6] The title is very likely taken from a passage in Fanny Burney's popular 1782 novel Cecilia, a novel Austen is known to have admired:[7]

"The whole of this unfortunate business," said Dr Lyster, "has been the result of PRIDE and PREJUDICE. ... Yet this, however, remember: if to PRIDE and PREJUDICE you owe your miseries, so wonderfully is good and evil balanced, that to PRIDE and PREJUDICE you will also owe their termination ..."[7][8] (capitalisation as in the original.)

A major theme in much of Austen's work is the importance of environment and upbringing in developing young people's character and morality.[9] Social standing and wealth are not necessarily advantages in her world, and a further theme common to Austen's work is ineffectual parents. In Pride and Prejudice, the failure of Mr and Mrs Bennet as parents is blamed for Lydia's lack of moral judgment; Darcy, on the other hand, has been taught to be principled and scrupulously honourable, but he is also proud and overbearing.[9] Kitty, rescued from Lydia's bad influence and spending more time with her older sisters after they marry, is said to improve greatly in their superior society.[10] American novelist Anna Quindlen observed, in an introduction to an edition of Austen's novel in 1995:

Pride and Prejudice is also about that thing that all great novels consider, the search for self. And it is the first great novel that teaches us this search is as surely undertaken in the drawing room making small talk as in the pursuit of a great white whale or the public punishment of adultery.[11]

Marriage[edit]

The opening line of the novel famously announces: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."[12] This sets marriage as a central subject—and really, a central problem—for the novel generally. Readers are poised to question whether or not these single men are, in fact, in want of a wife, or if such desires are dictated by the "neighbourhood" families and their daughters who require a "good fortune". Marriage is a complex social activity that takes political economy, and economy more generally, into account. In the case of Charlotte Lucas, for example, the seeming success of her marriage lies in the comfortable economy of their household, while the relationship between Mr and Mrs Bennet serves to illustrate bad marriages based on an initial attraction and surface over substance (economic and psychological). The Bennets' marriage is one such example that the youngest Bennet, Lydia, will come to re-enact with Wickham, and the results are far from felicitous. Though the central characters, Elizabeth and Darcy, begin the novel as hostile acquaintances and unlikely friends, they eventually work to understand each other and themselves so that they can marry each other on compatible terms personally, even if their "equal" social status remains fraught. When Elizabeth rejects Darcy's first proposal, the argument of only marrying when one is in love is introduced. Elizabeth only accepts Darcy's proposal when she is certain she loves him and her feelings are reciprocated.[13] Austen's complex sketching of different marriages ultimately allows readers to question what forms of alliance are desirable, especially when it comes to privileging economic, sexual, companionate attraction.

Wealth[edit]

Money plays a key role in the marriage market, not only for the young ladies seeking a well-off husband, but also for men who wish to marry a woman of means. Two examples are George Wickham, who tried to elope with Georgiana Darcy, and Colonel Fitzwilliam. Marrying a woman of a rich family also ensured a linkage to a high family, as is visible in the desires of Bingley's sisters to have their brother married to Georgiana Darcy. Mrs Bennet is frequently seen encouraging her daughters to marry a wealthy man of high social class. In chapter 1, when Mr Bingley arrives, she declares "I am thinking of his marrying one of them."[14]

Inheritance was by descent, but could be further restricted by entailment, which would restrict inheritance to male heirs only. In the case of the Bennet family, Mr Collins was to inherit the family estate upon Mr Bennet's death and his proposal to Elizabeth would have ensured her future security. Nevertheless, she refuses his offer. Inheritance laws benefited males because most women did not have independent legal rights until the second half of the 19th century. As a consequence, women's financial security at that time depended on men. For the upper-middle and aristocratic classes, marriage to a man with a reliable income was almost the only route to security for the woman and her future children.[15] The irony of the novel's opening line, therefore, is that generally within this society it would be a woman who would be looking for a wealthy husband in order to have prosperous life.

Class[edit]

Lady Catherine and Elizabeth by C. E. Brock, 1895
Lady Catherine confronts Elizabeth about Darcy, on the title page of the first illustrated edition. This is the other of the first two illustrations of the novel.

Austen might be known now for her "romances," but the marriages that take place in her novels engage with economics and class distinction. Pride and Prejudice is hardly the exception. When Darcy proposes to Elizabeth, he cites their economic and social differences as an obstacle his excessive love has had to overcome, though he still anxiously harps on the problems it poses for him within his social circle. His aunt, Lady Catherine, later characterises these differences in particularly harsh terms when she conveys what Elizabeth's marriage to Darcy will become: "Will the shades of Pemberley be thus polluted?" Though Elizabeth responds to Lady Catherine's accusations that hers is a potentially contaminating economic and social position (Elizabeth even insists she and Darcy are "equals"), Lady Catherine refuses to accept Darcy's actual marriage to Elizabeth even as the novel closes.

Meanwhile, the Bingleys present a particular problem for navigating social class. Though Caroline Bingley and Mrs Hurst behave and speak of others as if they have always belonged in the upper echelons of society, Austen makes a point to explain that the Bingleys acquired their wealth by trade rather than through the gentry's and aristocracy's methods of inheritance and making money off their tenants as landlords. The fact that Bingley rents Netherfield Hall—it is, after all, "to let"—distinguishes him significantly from Darcy, whose estate belonged to his father's family, and who, through his mother, is the grandson and nephew of an Earl. Bingley, unlike Darcy, does not own his property, but has portable and growing wealth that makes him a good catch on the marriage market for poorer daughters of the gentility, like Jane Bennet, ambitious cits (merchant class), etc. Class plays a central role in the evolution of the characters, and Jane Austen's radical approach to class is seen as the plot unfolds.[16]

In addition, there is an undercurrent of the old Anglo-Norman upper class hinted at in the story, as suggested by the names of Fitzwilliam Darcy and his aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh; Fitzwilliam, D'Arcy, and de Bourgh (Burke) are all traditional Norman surnames.

Self knowledge[edit]

Through their interactions and their critiques of each other, Darcy and Elizabeth come to recognise their own faults and work to correct them. Elizabeth meditates on her own mistakes thoroughly in chapter 36:

"How despicably have I acted!" she cried; "I, who have prided myself on my discernment! I, who have valued myself on my abilities! who have often disdained the generous candour of my sister, and gratified my vanity in useless or blameable distrust. How humiliating is this discovery! yet, how just a humiliation! Had I been in love, I could not have been more wretchedly blind. But vanity, not love, has been my folly. Pleased with the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other, on the very beginning of our acquaintance, I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away, where either were concerned. Till this moment I never knew myself."

Other characters rarely exhibit this depth of self-reflection--or, at least, are not given the space within the novel for this sort of development. Tanner notes that Mrs Bennet in particular, "has a very limited view of the requirements of that performance; lacking any introspective tendencies she is incapable of appreciating the feelings of others and is only aware of material objects." [17] Mrs Bennet's behaviour reflects the society in which she lives, as she knows that her daughters will not succeed if they don't get married: "The business of her life was to get her daughters married: it's solace was visiting and news." [18] This proves that Mrs Bennet is only aware of "material objects" and not of her own feelings and emotions.[19]

Style[edit]

Pride and Prejudice, like most of Austen's other works, employs the narrative technique of free indirect speech, which has been defined as "the free representation of a character's speech, by which one means, not words actually spoken by a character, but the words that typify the character's thoughts, or the way the character would think or speak, if she thought or spoke".[20] Austen creates her characters with fully developed personalities and unique voices. Though Darcy and Elizabeth are very alike, they are also considerably different.[21] By using narrative that adopts the tone and vocabulary of a particular character (in this case, Elizabeth), Austen invites the reader to follow events from Elizabeth's viewpoint, sharing her prejudices and misapprehensions. "The learning curve, while undergone by both protagonists, is disclosed to us solely through Elizabeth's point of view and her free indirect speech is essential ... for it is through it that we remain caught, if not stuck, within Elizabeth's misprisions."[20] The few times the reader is allowed to gain further knowledge of another character's feelings, is through the letters exchanged in this novel. Darcy's first letter to Elizabeth is an example of this as through his letter, the reader and Elizabeth are both given knowledge of Wickham's true character. Austen is known to use irony throughout the novel especially from viewpoint of the character of Elizabeth Bennet. She conveys the "oppressive rules of femininity that actually dominate her life and work, and are covered by her beautifully carved trojan horse of ironic distance.".[4] Beginning with a historical investigation of the development of a particular literary form and then transitioning into empirical verifications, it reveals FID as a tool that emerged over time as practical means for addressing the physical distinctness of minds. Seen in this way, FID is a distinctly literary response to an environmental concern, providing a scientific justification that does not reduce literature to a mechanical extension of biology, but takes its value to be its own original form.[22]

Development of the novel[edit]

Page 2 of a letter from Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra (11 June 1799) in which she first mentions Pride and Prejudice, using its working title First Impressions. (NLA)

Austen began writing the novel after staying at Goodnestone Park in Kent with her brother Edward and his wife in 1796.[23] It was originally titled First Impressions, and was written between October 1796 and August 1797.[24] On 1 November 1797 Austen's father sent a letter to London bookseller Thomas Cadell to ask if he had any interest in seeing the manuscript, but the offer was declined by return post.[25] The militia were mobilised after the French declaration of war on Britain in February 1793, and there was initially a lack of barracks for all the militia regiments, requiring the militia to set up huge camps in the countryside, which the novel refers to several times.[26] The Brighton camp for which the militia regiment leaves for in May after spending the winter in Meryton was opened in August 1793, and the barracks for all the regiments of the militia were completed by 1796, placing the events of the novel between 1793-95.[27]

Austen made significant revisions to the manuscript for First Impressions between 1811 and 1812.[24] As nothing remains of the original manuscript, we are reduced to conjecture. From the large number of letters in the final novel, it is assumed that First Impressions was an epistolary novel.[28] She later renamed the story Pride and Prejudice around about 1811-1812, which she sold the rights to publish the manuscript to Thomas Egerton for ‎£110.[29] In renaming the novel, Austen probably had in mind the "sufferings and oppositions" summarised in the final chapter of Fanny Burney's Cecilia, called "Pride and Prejudice", where the phrase appears three times in block capitals.[9] It is possible that the novel's original title was altered to avoid confusion with other works. In the years between the completion of First Impressions and its revision into Pride and Prejudice, two other works had been published under that name: a novel by Margaret Holford and a comedy by Horace Smith.[25]

Publication history[edit]

Title page of a 1907 edition illustrated by C. E. Brock

Austen sold the copyright for the novel to Thomas Egerton from the Military Library, Whitehall in exchange for £110 (Austen had asked for £150).[30] This proved a costly decision. Austen had published Sense and Sensibility on a commission basis, whereby she indemnified the publisher against any losses and received any profits, less costs and the publisher's commission. Unaware that Sense and Sensibility would sell out its edition, making her £140,[25] she passed the copyright to Egerton for a one-off payment, meaning that all the risk (and all the profits) would be his. Jan Fergus has calculated that Egerton subsequently made around £450 from just the first two editions of the book.[31]

Egerton published the first edition of Pride and Prejudice in three hardcover volumes on 27 January 1813.[32] It was advertised in the Morning Chronicle, priced at 18s.[24] Favourable reviews saw this edition sold out, with a second edition published in November that year. A third edition was published in 1817.[30]

Foreign language translations first appeared in 1813 in French; subsequent translations were published in German, Danish, and Swedish.[33] Pride and Prejudice was first published in the United States in August 1832 as Elizabeth Bennet or, Pride and Prejudice.[30] The novel was also included in Richard Bentley's Standard Novel series in 1833. R W Chapman's scholarly edition of Pride and Prejudice, first published in 1923, has become the standard edition on which many modern published versions of the novel are based.[30]

The novel was originally published without Austen's name. It was instead written "By the Author of Sense and Sensibility". This carried responsibility for Austen, unlike when Sense and Sensibility was released as being written "By A Lady".[34]

Reception[edit]

At first publication[edit]

The novel was well received, with three favourable reviews in the first months following publication.[31] Anne Isabella Milbanke, later to be the wife of Lord Byron, called it "the fashionable novel".[31] Noted critic and reviewer George Henry Lewes declared that he "would rather have written Pride and Prejudice, or Tom Jones, than any of the Waverley Novels".[35]

Charlotte Brontë, however, in a letter to Lewes, wrote that Pride and Prejudice was a disappointment, "a carefully fenced, highly cultivated garden, with neat borders and delicate flowers; but ... no open country, no fresh air, no blue hill, no bonny beck".[35]

Late 19th to 21st centuries[edit]

You could not shock her more than she shocks me,
Beside her Joyce seems innocent as grass.
It makes me most uncomfortable to see
An English spinster of the middle class
Describe the amorous effects of 'brass',
Reveal so frankly and with such sobriety
The economic basis of society.

W. H. Auden (1937) on Austen[35]

Adaptations[edit]

Film, television and theatre[edit]

Pride and Prejudice has engendered numerous adaptations. Some of the notable film versions include that of 1940, starring Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier[45] (based in part on Helen Jerome's 1936 stage adaptation) and that of 2005, starring Keira Knightley (an Oscar-nominated performance) and Matthew Macfadyen.[46] Notable television versions include two by the BBC: a 1980 version starring Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul and the popular 1995 version, starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth.

A 1936 stage version was created by Helen Jerome played at the St James's Theatre in London, starring Celia Johnson and Hugh Williams. First Impressions was a 1959 Broadway musical version starring Polly Bergen, Farley Granger, and Hermione Gingold.[47] In 1995, a musical concept album was written by Bernard J. Taylor, with Claire Moore in the role of Elizabeth Bennet and Peter Karrie in the role of Mr Darcy.[48] A new stage production, Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, The New Musical, was presented in concert on 21 October 2008 in Rochester, New York, with Colin Donnell as Darcy.[49] The Swedish composer Daniel Nelson based his 2011 opera Stolthet och fördom on Pride and Prejudice.[50]

Literature[edit]

The novel has inspired a number of other works that are not direct adaptations. Books inspired by Pride and Prejudice include the following: Mr. Darcy's Daughters and The Exploits and Adventures of Miss Alethea Darcy by Elizabeth Aston; Darcy's Story (a best seller) and Dialogue with Darcy by Janet Aylmer; Pemberley: Or Pride and Prejudice Continued and An Unequal Marriage: Or Pride and Prejudice Twenty Years Later by Emma Tennant; The Book of Ruth by Helen Baker (author); Jane Austen Ruined My Life and Mr Darcy Broke My Heart by Beth Pattillo; Precipitation – A Continuation of Miss Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice by Helen Baker (author); Searching for Pemberley by Mary Simonsen and Mr Darcy Takes a Wife and its sequel Darcy & Elizabeth: Nights and Days at Pemberly by Linda Berdoll.

In Gwyn Cready's comedic romance novel, Seducing Mr Darcy, the heroine lands in Pride and Prejudice by way of magic massage, has a fling with Darcy and unknowingly changes the rest of the story.

Abigail Reynolds is the author of 7 Regency-set variations on Pride and Prejudice. Her Pemberley Variations series includes Mr Darcy's Obsession, To Conquer Mr Darcy, What Would Mr Darcy Do and Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World. Her modern adaptation, The Man Who Loved Pride and Prejudice, is set on Cape Cod.[51]

Helen Fielding's 1996 novel Bridget Jones's Diary is also based on Pride and Prejudice and spawned a feature film of the same name, released in 2001.

In March 2009, Quirk Books released Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which takes Austen's actual, original work and mashes it up with zombie hordes, cannibalism, ninja and ultraviolent mayhem.[52] In March 2010, Quirk Books published a prequel that deals with Elizabeth Bennet's early days as a zombie hunter, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls.[53] In 2016, a movie of the aforementioned contemporary literature adaptation was released starring Lily James and Matt Smith.

In 2011, author Mitzi Szereto expanded on the novel in Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts, a historical sex parody that parallels the original plot and writing style of Jane Austen.

Marvel has also published their take on this classic by releasing a short comic series of five issues that stays true to the original storyline. The first issue was published on 1 April 2009 and was written by Nancy Hajeski.[54] It was published as a graphic novel in 2010 with artwork by Hugo Petrus.

Pamela Aidan is the author of a trilogy of books telling the story of Pride and Prejudice from Mr Darcy's point of view: Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman. The books are An Assembly Such as This,[55] Duty and Desire[56] and These Three Remain.[57]

Detective novel author P.D. James has written a book titled Death Comes to Pemberley, which is a murder mystery set six years after Elizabeth and Darcy's marriage.[58]

Sandra Lerner's sequel to Pride and Prejudice, Second Impressions, develops the story and imagined what might have happened to the original novel's characters. It is written in the style of Austen after extensive research into the period and language and published in 2011 under the pen name of Ava Farmer.[59]

Jo Baker's 2013 novel Longbourn imagines the lives of the servants of Pride and Prejudice.[60]

Curtis Sittenfeld set the characters of Pride and Prejudice in modern-day Cincinnati, where the Bennet parents, erstwhile Cincinnati social climbers, have fallen on hard times. Elizabeth, a successful and independent New York journalist, and her single older sister Jane must intervene to salvage the family's financial situation and get their unemployed adult sisters to move out of the house and onward in life. In the process they encounter Chip Bingley, a young doctor and reluctant reality TV celebrity, and his medical school classmate, Fitzwilliam Darcy, a cynical neurosurgeon.[61]

Pride and Prejudice has also inspired works of scientific writing. In 2010, scientists named a pheromone identified in male mouse urine darcin,[62] after Mr Darcy, because it strongly attracted females. In 2016, a scientific paper published in the Journal of Inherited Metabolic Diseases speculated that Mrs Bennet may have been a carrier of a rare genetic disease, explaining why the Bennets didn't have any sons, and why some of the Bennet sisters are so silly.[63]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Monstersandcritics.com". Monstersandcritics.com. 7 May 2009. Archived from the original on 26 October 2009. Retrieved 27 January 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Austen, Jane (1993). Pride and Prejudice. Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Editions Limited. ISBN 9781853260001. 
  3. ^ Janet M. Todd (2005), Books.Google.com, Jane Austen in Context, Cambridge University Press p. 127
  4. ^ a b Tauchert, Ashley (2003). "Mary Wollstonecraft and Jane Austen: 'Rape' and 'Love' as (Feminist) Social Realism and Romance". Women. Oxford, England. 14 (2): 144. Retrieved December 1, 2016. 
  5. ^ "The Impact of the Feminist Heroine: Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice" by Hui-Chun Chang, International Journal of Applied Linguistics & English Literature, vol.3, no. 3 (2014)
  6. ^ Fox, Robert C. (September 1962). "Elizabeth Bennet: Prejudice or Vanity?". Nineteenth-Century Fiction. University of California Press. 17 (2): 185–187. JSTOR 2932520. doi:10.2307/2932520. 
  7. ^ a b Dexter, Gary (10 August 2008). "How Pride And Prejudice got its name". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 27 April 2015. 
  8. ^ Fanny Burney (1782). Cecilia: Or, Memoirs of an Heiress. T. Payne and son and T. Cadell. pp. 379–380. 
  9. ^ a b c Pinion, F B (1973). A Jane Austen. Companion. Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-12489-8. 
  10. ^ Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice, Ch 61. 
  11. ^ Quindlen, Anna (1995). "Introduction". Pride and Prejudice. New York: Modern Library. p. vii. ISBN 0-679-60168-6. 
  12. ^ Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice, Ch 1. 
  13. ^ Gao, Haiyan (February 2013). "Jane Austen's Ideal Man in Pride and Prejudice". Theory and Practice in Language Studies: 384–388 – via ProQuest Literature Online. 
  14. ^ Austen, Jane (1813). Pride and Prejudice. p. 3. 
  15. ^ Chung, Ching-Yi (July 2013). "Gender and class oppression in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice". IRWLE. 9 (2). 
  16. ^ Michie, Elsie B. "Social Distinction in Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, 1813, edited by Donald Gray and Mary A. Favret, fourth Norton critical edition (2016). pp. 370–81.
  17. ^ Tanner, Tony (1986). Knowledge and Opinion: Pride and Prejudice. London: Macmillan Education Ltd. p. 124. ISBN 0333323173 – via JStor. 
  18. ^ Austen, Jane (1966, 1993, 2001, 2016). Pride and Prejudice. United States of America: W.W. Norton & Company Inc. p. 7. ISBN 9780393264883.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  19. ^ Tanner, Tony (1986). Knowledge and Opinion: Pride and Prejudice. London: Macmillan Education Ltd. p. 124. ISBN 0333323173 – via JSTOR. 
  20. ^ a b Miles, Robert (2003). Jane Austen. Writers and Their Work. Tavistock: Northcote House in association with the British Council. ISBN 0-7463-0876-0. 
  21. ^ Baker, Amy. "Caught In The Act Of Greatness: Jane Austen's Characterization Of Elizabeth And Darcy By Sentence Structure In PRIDE AND PREJUDICE." Explicator 72.3 (2014): 169-178. Academic Search Complete. Web. 16 Feb. 2016.
  22. ^ Fletcher, Angus (2013). "A Scientific Justification for Literature: Jane Austen's Free Indirect Style as Ethical Tool". Journal of Narrative Theory : JNT. 43: 13 – via Literature Online. 
  23. ^ "History of Goodnestone". Goodnestone Park Gardens. Retrieved 26 August 2010. 
  24. ^ a b c Le Faye, Deidre (2002). Jane Austen: The World of Her Novels. New York: Harry N. Abrams. ISBN 0-8109-3285-7. 
  25. ^ a b c Rogers, Pat (ed.) (2006). The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-82514-6. 
  26. ^ Irvine, Robert Jane Austen, London: Routledge, 2005 page 57.
  27. ^ Irvine, Robert Jane Austen, London: Routledge, 2005 pages 56-57.
  28. ^ This theory is defended in "Character and Caricature in Jane Austen" by DW Harding in Critical Essays on Jane Austen (BC Southam Edition, London 1968) and Brian Southam in Southam, B.C. (2001). Jane Austen's literary manuscripts : a study of the novelist's development through the surviving papers (New ed.). London: the Athlone press / Continuum. pp. 58–59. ISBN 9780826490704. 
  29. ^ Irvine, Robert Jane Austen, London: Routledge, 2005 page 56.
  30. ^ a b c d Stafford, Fiona (2004). "Notes on the Text". Pride and Prejudice. Oxford World's Classics (ed. James Kinley). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-280238-0. 
  31. ^ a b c Fergus, Jan (1997). "The professional woman writer". In E Copeland and J McMaster. The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-49867-8. 
  32. ^ "Anniversaries of 2013". Daily Telegraph. 28 December 2012. 
  33. ^ Cossy, Valérie; Saglia, Diego (2005). Todd, Janet, ed. Translations. Jane Austen in Context. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-82644-6. 
  34. ^ Tandon, Bharat (2003). Jane Austen and the Morality of Conversation. Anthem Press. p. 82. 
  35. ^ a b c Southam, B. C. (ed) (1995). Jane Austen: The Critical Heritage. 1. New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-13456-9. 
  36. ^ "BBC – The Big Read – Top 100 Books". May 2003. Retrieved 12 May 2008. 
  37. ^ "Aussie readers vote Pride and Prejudice best book". thewest.com.au. 
  38. ^ "200th Anniversary Of 'Pride And Prejudice': A HuffPost Books Austenganza". The Huffington Post. 
  39. ^ Schuessler, Jennifer (January 28, 2013). "Austen Fans to Celebrate 200 Years of Pride and Prejudice". The New York Times. Retrieved February 7, 2015. 
  40. ^ "Video: Jane Austen celebrated on 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice publication". Telegraph.co.uk. 28 January 2013. 
  41. ^ ABC News. "'Pride and Prejudice' 200th Anniversary". ABC News. 
  42. ^ "Queensbridge Publishing: Pride and Prejudice 200th Anniversary Edition by Jane Austen". queensbridgepublishing.com. 
  43. ^ "TED Talks to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice". TED Blog. 
  44. ^ Rothman, Lily. "Happy 200th Birthday, Pride & Prejudice…and Happy Sundance, Too: The writer/director of the Sundance hit 'Austenland' talks to TIME about why we still love Mr Darcy centuries years later". Time. Retrieved February 7, 2015. 
  45. ^ Pride and Prejudice (1940) on IMDb
  46. ^ Pride and Prejudice (2005) on IMDb
  47. ^ "''First Impressions'' the Broadway Musical". Janeaustensworld.wordpress.com. 6 November 2008. Retrieved 27 January 2012. 
  48. ^ "''Pride and Prejudice'' (1995)". Bernardjtaylor.com. Retrieved 27 January 2012. 
  49. ^ "PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, the Musical". prideandprejudicemusical.com. 
  50. ^ Stolthet och fördom / Pride and Prejudice (2011), work details
  51. ^ "Abigail Reynolds Author Page". Amazon.com. Retrieved 27 July 2012. 
  52. ^ Grossman, Lev (April 2009). "Pride and Prejudice, Now with Zombies". TIME Magazine. Retrieved 26 April 2009. 
  53. ^ "Quirkclassics.com". Quirkclassics.com. Retrieved 27 January 2012. 
  54. ^ "Marvel.com". Marvel.com. Retrieved 27 January 2012. 
  55. ^ Aidan, Pamela. An Assembly Such as This. ISBN 978-0-7432-9134-7. 
  56. ^ Aidan, Pamela. Duty and Desire. ISBN 978-0-9728529-1-3. 
  57. ^ Aidan, Pamela. These Three Remain. ISBN 978-0-7432-9137-8. 
  58. ^ Hislop, Victoria. "Death Comes to Pemberley: Amazon.co.uk: Baroness P. D. James: 9780571283576: Books". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 27 January 2012. 
  59. ^ Farmer, Ava (2011). Second Impressions. Chawton, Hampshire, England: Chawton House Press. ISBN 1613647506. 
  60. ^ Baker, Jo (8 October 2013). Longbourn. Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 978-0385351232. 
  61. ^ Sittenfeld, Curtis (19 April 2016). Eligible. Random House. ISBN 978-1400068326. 
  62. ^ Roberts, Sarah A.; Simpson, Deborah M.; Armstrong, Stuart D.; Davidson, Amanda J.; Robertson, Duncan H.; McLean, Lynn; Beynon, Robert J.; Hurst, Jane L. (2010-01-01). "Darcin: a male pheromone that stimulates female memory and sexual attraction to an individual male's odour". BMC biology. 8: 75. ISSN 1741-7007. PMC 2890510Freely accessible. PMID 20525243. doi:10.1186/1741-7007-8-75. 
  63. ^ Stern, William (2016-03-01). "Pride and protein". Journal of Inherited Metabolic Disease. 39 (2): 321–324. ISSN 1573-2665. PMID 26743057. doi:10.1007/s10545-015-9908-7. 

External links[edit]