Love Triumphs Against All Odds English Literature Essay

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Brontë is quite right: there is nothing about stormy feelings in Pride and Prejudice; instead it could almost be considered as a book of humour, consisting of ironic rather than cynical statements on societal prejudices. Like the opening sentence of Pride and Prejudice: 'It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife' which should be read otherwise, that is, in fact a single woman must be in want of a man with a good fortune! Throughout the novel more and more of these kind of statements will be revealed, that's why it can also be read as a social historical satire about upper echelons of late Georgian and Regency society.

Even in the most climatic moments such as Darcy's first proposal to Elizabeth - the protagonist- the reader doesn't find her overwhelmed by her feelings: she protects her usual calmness as well as being discreet to everyone about this event -even to her beloved sister, Jane- about what is going on in her life as if nothing happened. It seems it would be a flaw to be carried away by one's feelings, on the contrary in the works of some authors of Austen's immediate predecessors and contemporaries as Goethe, to name one. [7] 

One of the most well-known critics of Austen, D.W. Harding thinks that in Austen's work there are characters and caricatures, and the caricature "is maintained by concentrating on the outer layers of social behaviour and selecting narrowly even from them. In the same way that national stereotypes partly dissolve when we come to know a foreigner as a real person, so fictional caricatures may be given fuller human relevance as the outer layers are penetrated and less grotesque features of personality are indicated." [8] Pride and Prejudice is a puzzling title open to misunderstandings, which Austen tries to elucidate and put in a correct context in one of the first chapters: Elizabeth's pedantic sister Mary, while responding Miss Lucas' wrong assumptions about who has the right to be proud, explains in a bookish manner that '"Pride … is a very common failing, I believe. By all that I have ever read, I am convinced that it is very common indeed; that human nature is particularly prone to it, and that there are very few of us who do not cherish a feeling of self-complacency on the score of some quality or other, real or imaginary. 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."' [9] This concept is almost always confused with vanity which in turn provokes pride in the hearts of humble, but dignified characters in Austen's work, like Elizabeth: her manners are regarded as 'very bad indeed, a mixture of pride and impertinence' by her critics such as Mr. Bingley's married sister: 'she had no conversation, no style, no beauty.' [10] 

As for the character flaws and/or inclinations of Elizabeth and Darcy associated with the title of novel, although at first 'the gentlemen pronounced him to be a fine figure of a man, the ladies declared he was much handsome than Mr. Bingley, and he was looked at with great admiration for about half the evening,' whole community of Meryton saw only vanity in Darcy's personality and were startled. [11] 

When they first meet, Darcy judges Elizabeth as 'tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me; I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men.' [12] Overhearing this conversation, Elizabeth hastily judges him as arrogant and gets him out of her mind; as Mary Poovey tells her 'prejudice against Darcy is so quickly formed and so persistent because, at the first assembly, he unthinkingly confronts her with the very facts that it is most in her interest to deny.' [13] So, even when she notices Darcy's subsequent interest in herself, she denies it indicating as if he doesn't show attention to her 'any more I shall certainly let him know that I see what he is about. He has a very satirical eye, and if I do not begin by being impertinent myself, I shall soon grow afraid of him.' [14] This is a virtual prejudice, just like easily recognizable in Darcy's reply against Bingley's remark that if [Bennet girls] had uncles enough to fill Cheapside [15] , it would not make them less agreeable: 'But it must very materially lessen their chance of marrying men of any consideration in the world' which turns up the opposite in the end. [16] 

Another vital ironic part is that although Darcy sees Elizabeth as only 'tolerable' at first glance, he cannot help falling in love with her despite her 'intolerable' family, particularly embarrassing foolish mother and wild sisters, who motivate him to separate his friend Bingley, from his beloved Jane for that matter. In return, this will undermine Darcy's stakes for his love, with 'pride and prejudice' meddling in the affairs once again, causing Elizabeth to find Darcy's prejudices about her family 'intolerable' and his proposal insulting; thus she declines his proposal harshly. This is a real shock for Darcy, an intrinsic proud person who never thinks he will get a rejection from Elizabeth's part. However, Elizabeth hates him for intervening in the love affair between her sister and Bingley and also holds him responsible for the amiable Wickham's misfortunes -but, it turns up that Wickham is one of the most striking villains of the entire novel. The other is the arrogant and pretentious aunt of Darcy, Lady Catherine.

In time, Elizabeth and Darcy begin to know each other more accurately and deeply throughout various events and circumstances overcoming the misunderstandings between each other while they are away, and Elizabeth suddenly becomes aware that she is in love with Darcy. She seeks for his love although she abandoned every hope about it, although not knowing that he loves her too, for 'the liveliness of her mind' [17] . Darcy never gives up loving her as he will confess after they finally unite. The climax is the visit of Lady Catherine to Meryton, to scold, scorn and dissuade Elizabeth if she has any intention to marry her nephew.

This will be the turning points of the course of events: the assertive protagonist, Elizabeth, scores off the old lady when she confronts her. She is utterly calm and serene when she declares that she is 'only resolved to act in that manner, which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness, without reference to you, or to any person so wholly unconnected with me.' [18] The reader hears for the first time Austen's voice from the speech of her protagonist that love must and will triumph! This infinite courage, even insolence in Elizabeth's straightforwardness under the given circumstances seems somewhat a figment of Austen's imagination because there was not any chance that young women of her time would have survived socially with that degree of outspokenness.

As a non-conformist novel character belonging such a conservative and prejudiced society, and what is more a young woman who has not enough means to be independent, Elizabeth seems somewhat implausible. Declining two marriage proposals, which in fact are both a real 'chance' for her -even the first one which provides their tiny estates to remain in the family at least- Elizabeth never thinks of finding other ways to stand on her feet even once throughout the story -to earn money as a governess, just to name an example, as Jane Eyre does. [19] Therefore, Elizabeth's both straightforwardness and intractability, despite they are in general regarded as integrity and self-respect of an individual today, sound somewhat misleading or unrealistic character development on behalf of the author for late Georgian and Regency England.

What is the most ironic of all is the fact that although Austen dared to choose not to marry, even when she was utterly stranded with her mother and beloved sister Cassandra after her father's demise, and managed to live independently by writing novels, she does not find the same for her female character Elizabeth appropriate, even denies independency for Elizabeth who has not any prospects other than finding a proper husband to "settle" and live a decent life.

Taking 'pride and prejudice' as main themes beginning from the title throughout this novel, not only between the two protagonists but also within the society as a whole, Austen de facto elucidates and further criticizes these flaws thoroughly, but always in a low tone and in a perpetual irony. That's her style indeed: she says what she thinks, not too loudly, preferring to hide in between the lines. For her, the intricacy between the pride and prejudices intertwining within behaviours and attitudes stems from the imposed socio-economical stratifications and social perceptions which reflect them, although she never declares it very clearly and underlined way. In this regard, Austen's low voice, so to speak, heralds Virginia Woolf's style who also never articulates her reservations and objections against social inequities, particularly in gender relations directly in her novels: Pride and Prejudice is in a way the harbinger of Mrs. Dalloway, the latter has not been surpassed in novelty and authenticity about what it says. [20] 

In the final analysis, when she died on 18 July 1817 at the age of only 41 at Winchester and buried in the cathedral there, Jane Austen was no longer an obscure 'Lady', but an 'authoress' according to her obituary on the Courier: 'On the 18th inst. at Winchester, Miss Jane Austen, youngest daughter of the late Rev. George Austen, Rector of Steventon, in Hampshire, and the Authoress of Emma, Mansfield Park, Pride and Prejudice, and Sense and Sensibility.  Her manners were most gentle; her affections ardent; her candor was not to be surpassed, and she lived and died as became a humble Christian." [21] 

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