The Contributions Of Pride And Prejudice English Literature Essay

5516 words (22 pages) Essay in English Literature

5/12/16 English Literature Reference this

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Pride and Prejudice is rated as one of the all time great contribution to English literature. The manuscript was a collection of three volumes titled First Impressions, but wasn’t published since the publisher rejected it without reading the manuscript.

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Jane Austen has aligned herself in the same mould as the female protagonists she portrayed in her stories, whether it was Emma Woodhouse or Elizabeth Bennet. The choice of Elizabeth being the protagonist against Jane, within inter-woven stories of Pride and Prejudice, draws its reference from her life. The character of Jane, Elizabeth’s sister, is penciled after her own sister, Cassandra 1.

Within the story, there are several references which are adaptations from Jane Austen’s life. Austen had accepted a marriage proposal from a wealthy heir, only to regret it and reject the offer for marriage. She casts the same into the character of Charlotte, Elizabeth’s friend, who marries Collins, a rich man but who wasn’t a smart unlike Charlotte who was an intelligent woman. 2. The book also focuses on Austen’s astute observations of society and culture of England during the period. Among the various aspects she brings to light the ills that plagued social norms such as inheritance, marriage, courtship, social standing of women etc. The book epitomizes the plight of young women whose source of wealth and social status was only through marriage; wherein several young women married unsuitable suitors for the sole reason that theses suitors were men of wealth, the cause being highlighted by Charlotte accepting Collins marriage proposal. The inability to get married would mean a loss of social standing. Austen has given this issue a lot of focus in her other work- Persuasion.

1″ You never see a fault in any body. All the world are good and agreeable in your eyes. I never heard you speak ill of a human being in my life.”

2″Mr.Collins to be sure was neither sensible nor agreeable; his society was irksome, and his attachment to her must be imaginary.”

The prevailing inheritance rule denied Mr. Bennet’s daughters from having a share in the estate which is eventually bequeathed to their cousin Mr. Collins. Although Mr. Bennet had a fair amount of estate, his daughters were left to seek marriage as the route for gaining any estate of their own or be left to destitution. Also Austen highlights that beauty and young age were the only aspects that young women bought to marriage, and anything intellectual wasn’t tolerated. The same reason could be applied to Mr. Bennet’s marriage, wherein he married Mrs. Bennet solely for her beauty, with the knowledge that she was neither intelligent nor understanding for she only wished to marry her daughters to people who were well off.3. Austen also sheds light upon the moral scruples of people, which complements her understanding of the England’s society during that period. She quotes Mr. Collins as an example throughout the novel, who has no scruples in marrying Charlotte, after being denied by Elizabeth to whom he proposes after finding out Jane is being courted by Mr. Bingley; or when Mr. Collins visits the Bennet household with a intent of finding out his inheritance while having no moral compulsion, suggesting that one of his cousins should wed him.

Austen’s choice of Elizabeth and Darcy as the protagonists against choosing Jane and Bingley is commendable. By contrasting Elizabeth against Jane she brings out the contrast between the characters with a fair degree of clarity. Jane represents the ideal woman who doesn’t question social norms and accepts it unconditionally, whereas Elizabeth reflects rebellion to the repressive norms that were absurd. Elizabeth with her wit, unwillingness especially towards following female inanities and spirited intellect would stand for what would be described as unladylike. Through her Austen poses the problems faced by the English society and her own denouncement of these repressive norms.

The world of Jane Austen’s novels is singularly fascinating with its charming protagonists, the detailed Regency culture and beautifully drawn personalities. In her masterpiece, Austen has captured with ease the human nature at its best and at its pitfalls. She has marvelously colored the story with the bucolic scenes of the English countryside while lending her maverick nature to her female heroines.

3″She was a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper. When she was discontented, she fancied herself nervous. The business of her life was to get her daughters married; its solace was visiting and news.”

Pride and Prejudice are displayed in every character pertaining to the novel in some form or another. It is pride of those of a higher economic status which genuinely withholds prominent relationships of those who are of lower economic status. Darcy’s pride causes him to look down on those who are in a lower social class, due to his mentality that he supersedes those who are not within his social circle. Given that Elizabeth Bennet is of a lower class than Darcy, this places immediate restrictions to their relationship. Elizabeth also displays significant pride. Though not influenced by economic status, Elizabeth is most proud of her ability of perception:  although it is her ill perception which causes her to misjudge Darcy and also Wickham. When Elizabeth hears of Wickham’s accusations of Darcy, she trusts the negative perception of him, and mistakenly views Darcy’s confidence as conceit.

Prejudice also corresponds with character pride. Prejudiced judgments are woven within society in the novel, especially pertaining to reputation, economic status, and women’s inferiority to men. Immediate prejudiced judgments are consistently being developed for all characters; the wealthy are snobbish, the not-so-wealthy are impolite, the eldest daughter will be the first to marry, and unmarried women-over-thirty will never marry. However these judgments are not always negative. If one family member is seen to have good standing with wealthy society, the rest of the family also acquires this image. Unfortunately on the contrary, if one family member demonstrates societal deviance, as Lydia Bennet did with Wickham, the whole family is perceived to hold the same negative reputation. Many prejudiced judgments are due to a character’s pride, or their pride causes social prejudice.  The novel is much more than a comedic love story, however; through Austen’s subtle and ironic style, it addresses economic, political, feminist, sociological, and philosophical themes, inspiring a great deal of diverse critical commentary on the meaning of the work.

THEME: MARRIAGE

Marriage is apparent from the first sentence in the novel when Austen writes, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Generated from societal tradition, women of these times did not work. They were to marry at a young age, spend time to plan the wedding, and then move from their parents’ home to their husbands, so that they could run a household and raise a family. On the contrary, if a woman did not marry, she would live at home with her parents and they would provide for her until they no longer could, leaving only then a brother or uncle to provide for her. 

Examining Mrs. Bennet’s marriage with Mr. Bennet, the couple models an unjust marriage for their daughters.  While the two may love each other, Mr. Bennet’s apparent disparage towards his wife, even though Mrs. Bennet is too ignorant and/or uneducated to see it, leads their daughters voiding the option of marrying for love.

Austen ties marriage to several different characters throughout the novel, with each character containing separate intentions. Mrs. Bennet express her cultured, determined and desirous intentions for her five daughters to marry, aspiring each is cared for in a financially stable home for the future; sadly, Mrs. Bennet does not care if her daughters are in love with their husbands, so long as their life together is financially well-off.  While Mrs. Bennet strives for social acceptance, Lydia Bennet almost deteriorated the Bennet family’s societal reputation from becoming Wickham’s lover out of wedlock. 

Having entirely different marriage intentions, Charlotte Lucas’ beliefs represent the common-societal woman; Charlotte marries because of her fear of aging. Since she is older than most typical unmarried women of this time, she readily accepts Mr. Collins’ marriage proposal, even though she knows she does not love him, but hopes to learn to love him in the future. When Elizabeth hears the news of Charlotte’s engagement, she does not understand Charlotte’s acceptance, leaving Charlotte to explain her fear of never receiving another marriage proposal in the future. As a headstrong feminist, Elizabeth then clarifies that her marriage intentions comprise of marrying for nothing other than only true love.

Jane Austen very beautifully portrays the coexistence of ideal marriages and imperfect marriages in her Pride and Prejudice. The word ideal has three tiers of meaning. “First, it means pursuing or believing in ideals. Second, it means imaginative treatment of objects or ideals in an ideal and often unrealistic way in terms of art and literature. Third, philosophically, it means belief that ideas are the only things that are real or about which we can know anything. In light of the content of this book, the proper definition of ideal has the same connotation with the combination of the first one and second one. In Jane Austen’s eyes, an ideal marriage is the one that combines together the good economic status as living foundation, moral integrity, true love and external charisma.

Good economic status, moral integrity, external charisma and true love are viewed by Jane Austen as the four indispensable factors that consist of an ideal marriage. First, a good economic status serves as the foundation of the marriage. As a human being, one needs food and other living necessities to keep alive. If the basic need for living cannot be met, they will be tired with keeping subsistence let alone to further talk about the higher need such as emotional need. Second, the mutual sound morality itself is of good value. Third, external charisma can leave each other a good first impression which may make the course of the courtship much easier. Fourth, authentic love of both parties is the hotbed of the marriage which deepens their mutual affection with the passage of time. Marriages lack of any of the four factors cannot be viewed as an ideal marriage in Jane Austen’s eyes.

Besides the importance of economic status, Austen also emphasized the importance of mutual love in a marriage. She firmly disapproves of the marriage without love. From her point of view can be best proved by Elizabeth’s refusal to Collins’ proposal. Collins was greatly taken aback by Elizabeth’s response. Because he believed that his offer is to her advantage. Since he was granted with the right to inherit the family’s property, he was willing to show some mercy on them by marrying one of Mrs. Bennet’s daughters. But he failed to see that Elizabeth put so much emphasis on love of both sides in a marriage. She definitely refused him. When speaking of the marriage of Elizabeth and Darcy, their marriage was built on mutual true love. Darcy deeply loved Elizabeth. Even after Elizabeth’s rude refusal, he never altered his affection. During the families’ miserable experience of Lydia’s elope with Wickham, he tacitly helped her family out of the difficulty. All his doing was to make Elizabeth happy. Elizabeth found she had already fallen in love him after Darcy’s mending of his proud manner. When it comes to the marriage of Jane and Bingley, mutual love also made it a happy one. Their emotion burgeoned at their first meeting and never changed through the passage of time.

The marriages without love presented in this book are those of Lydia and Wickham, Charlotte and Collins. Lydia and Wickham’s marriage was made on instant passion which cannot be called as true love and may lose quickly. They both quickly lost their emotion towards each other after their marriage.

Marriages Built on the Living Necessities:

The first kind of imperfect marriage is the one of Charlotte and Collins which is made on mutual interest rather than love. Charlotte was an intelligent girl and had been long a good friend of Elizabeth’s. She had a little intelligence and clearly knew that she was not clever and beautiful enough to attract a noble man to bring romance to her. As for Charlotte , the biggest reality she faced was that she needed to find a wealthy husband to insure her future life since she was not be able to find her own living means in then society. Generally speaking, this fact did bother almost all the poor ladies; in the world where ladies could not be self-reliant, they must grasp every chance to make themselves well married. After being engaged, Charlotte went to Elizabeth, her best friend. She said: “I see what you are feeling; you must be surprised, very surprised, very surprised—— as lately as Mr. Collins was wishing to marry. But when you have had time to think it all over, I hope you will be satisfied with what I have done. I am not romantic, you know. I never was. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr. Collins’ character, connections, and situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is as fair as most people can boast on entering the marriage state. Being fully aware of her conditions, she immediately managed to put herself into a favor of Collins after Elizabeth’s refusal to his proposal reached her ears. She finally got what she wanted, a house, and a relatively comfortable life as a clergyman’s wife but not a happy marriage life. While as for Collins, the reality was that it was her due time to get a wife when his age and wealth permitted. As a clergyman, he wanted to find a decent lady that would fit into his status. We cannot tell that whether he loved Charlotte or not. Perhaps, he even did not really know love. He can easily choose Jane and easily turn to Elizabeth in a mere moment. His love with Charlotte really ought to be questioned. While one thing is for sure; he had managed to get a satisfactory wife, which he believed was enough for him.

Marriages Built on Passion:

The typical example of the second kind of imperfect marriage is that of Lydia and Wickham. Wickham is a man handsome enough to induce ever lady. Even Elizabeth was successfully deceived by his good-looking and false gentleman-like behavior. Due to her extravagant lifestyle, he was always short of money. The main task in his life was to catch a wealthy wife to continue his luxurious life. Therefore, he was impossible to love anybody. He liked courting beautiful ladies. Lydia was the youngest in the family who also was the most foolish one. She was enthusiastic in taking part in all kinds of parties and in flirting with noble men. Only 16 years, she was not mature enough to understand the importance of marriage and the crucial difference between love and passion. Her passion for Wickham blinded her mind’s eyes. She finally completely lost her sensibility and eloped with Wickham, putting her family on the verge of being terribly humiliated. Though, they finally got married with the help of Darcy, their marriage did not bring happiness to either of them. There is no denying that everyone needs some kind of emotional need to be met which we translated it as love. Love is one aspect of people’s realistic needs in our course of life. That is to say, as a part of marriage, love is indispensable. But a marriage to be only based on momentary passion was totally unwise, as believed by Austen.

Through the description of marriages of Charlotte and Collins, Lydia and Wickham, Austen used her pen to give a vivid picture of reality in women’s marriages in then society. Reality cannot be allowed to be avoided. Even the ideal marriages such as those of Jane’s and Elizabeth’s are also within the consideration of the some aspects of reality. We can see the footprint of reality in every plot. The first sentence of the book goes, “it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighborhood, this is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered as the rightful property of someone or other of their daughters.” We also can translate this sentence in such a way that if a man want to get a good wife, he must be wealthy to make himself the target of decent ladies; while if a lady want to have a good life, she must be married to a wealthy man. This is the biggest reality of men and women in then society. Austen herself was completely aware of this point. Thus in the following course of the book, she frequently reemphasized such reality.

” From the very beginning, your manners impressed me with the fullest belief in your pride and selfishness, and I had not know you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be persuaded to marry”

Not until reading more than half of the book we can get the paragraph in which Elizabeth realizes that she loves Darcy and that “I am the happiest creature in the world” because of having his love.

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The overcoming of his prejudice is demonstrated when he treats the Gardiners with a great civility whereas the Gardiners belong to a much lower class than him. About Elizabeth, finally she must refuse all her prejudice to consider her good feelings for Darcy and accepts his second engagement.

In addition to requires them to marry. Most of them have the thought of depending on their future husbands and always recognizes that “Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance”. But Elizabeth is different from them. Through the plot of the novel, it is obviously that Austen wants to show how Elizabeth is able to be happy by refusing to marry for financial purposes and only marrying a man who she truly loves and respect.the issues of Pride and Prejudice, through this novel, Ms. Austen is critical of the female injustices present in 19th century English society and exposes her belief in intelligence of women. Besides, she considers their inferior status in society to be unjust. The Charlottes need to marry men they are not in love with simply to gain financial security and the entailment of Mr Bennet’s leaves his daughters in a poor financial situation which

With the happy ending and the perfect love of both of leading characters, the work can be said to be a romantic novel. However, the realistic factors are also expressed clearly, through this work; we seem to see a lively painting of English society in first half of the 19th century.

Coexistence of the Ideal Marriages and Imperfect Marriages:

All the ideal marriages described in the book are the best representation of Jane Austen’s dream in marriages. Austen was of an exception. There is no denying that there are happy marriages and unhappy ones in the world. Happy marriages are the common aspiration of all ladies. Austen has her own ideal in marriages. She judges an ideal husband by her own standard. She gave out four fundamental and indispensable elements to find an ideal husband. Through the description of Bingley and Darcy, she represents to us the ideal husbands should be such kind of man. She also pointed out implicitly what kind of ladies can have ideal marriages. Jane and Elizabeth are the right persons in case advocated by Austen. Beautiful ladies match talented gentlemen. Their marriages are undoubtedly the most desirable ones in the world.

Austen attached so much importance to the four elements in an ideal marriage that she believed any marriage devoid of any of the four elements cannot be accepted. She invariably insists on her own ideal and realizes it by the successfully promoting of the happy ending of the main protagonists of her works. She liked her dream even if it never came true in her life. The only condolence is that she can satisfy herself in her works. Her utopia dream in marriages makes some scholars consider her as a romantic novelist. A scholar once said: “Austen was an heir of 18th century; prose and sensibility are only one aspect of the era where she lived. She also learnt something which was once called sentimentalism and pre-romanticism. In pride and prejudice, Austen discarded sentimentalism and inspired perfect ones leading happy lives in tranquil, sound idyllic land. “[6] From his statements, we may predict that her idealistic writing style is the influence of her era.

The forge of ideal marriages is the best representation of Austen’s pursuit of the utopia dreams. Why does she also describe imperfect marriages in her works? Some may regard it as unnecessary and even contradictory to her dreams. But with second thought, we may find that the forge of imperfect marriages indeed has some reasons. Austen finds that the biggest reason why her dreams cannot be realized is the press of the grim reality. That kind of reality cannot be avoided but accepted. In the process of her pursuit of her dreams, she has to make compromise with the grim reality when it makes the realization of her dreams impossible. The unions of the Charlotte and Collins, Wickham and Lydia are the best representation.

Despite the existence of imperfect marriages in her works, we cannot say that Austen gives up her dreams. Actually, they co-exist in her works. It goes without saying that there are ideal marriages and also imperfect ones in the world. As for Austen, she also accepted these kinds of imperfect marriages. Therefore, we can say that there is no unanimous concept of marriage in her works. She is enthusiastic in pursuing of her ideal marriages and at the same time she accepts imperfect marriages compromising with reality in her works. Austen has her own sensibility and also her romanticism. Thus we can say that “if the heritage of realism made her well face the reality and treated the world in a sensible manner, then the heritage of romanticism belong to a much higher lever, emphasizing people’s mind and spiritual life. Outward sensibility and inward romanticism can perfectly express her writing style.”

In this book, we can see that Austen depicted to us two kinds of marriage, idealistic marriages and imperfect marriages. In the description of the marriages of the Elizabeth and Darcy, Jane and Bingley, she realized her romance as to deliberately endow them with happy ends despite various difficulties before their marriages. She successfully designed her ideal marriages in this book, and at the same time, she did build them on then society’s reality instead of neglecting it. She clearly knew that an ideal marriage was by no means shut out from reality; instead, it must first be a real one before it can be an ideal one. In order to emphasize the realistic aspect in marriages of then society, Austen described imperfect marriages of Lydia and Wickham, Charlotte and Collins. Through the portray of their marriages, Austen told us that although there is some realities in marriages such as wealth to insure future life and passion as human being’s basic instinct, it is a pity to see marriages established only on either of this two aspects.

It is because the ideal marriages and imperfect ones both incorporated in her works that many scholars have been tempted to believe that Austen is a realistic and at the same time an idealistic novelist. In this book, “Austen united sensibility with real life to organize the work as holistic one with multi-clues and various plots.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jane Austen (16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817) was a famous English novelist who has earned a place as one of the most widely read and most beloved writers in English literature by her style of burlesque and irony. Many literacy critics have sung the praise of her novels both in moral and realistic aspects, they also love her way of describing characters’ personalities very truthfully and giving prominence in the simple prose. In fact, these styles brought all readers about a refresh change which was not available at that time at all. When the English literature was developed strongly in the beginnings of eighteenth century with the unrealistic romantic style of almost writers, Jane Austen’s writings created the new aspiration through building some prominent characters. She formed a humorous world of the English middle-class in her age. Then this started the trend of “Family Novels” which was concentrate to describe lifestyles and tension between the female characters and their society they were living. This characteristic of the writer’s style makes us partly feel that her novels are closer to our present world than the traditions of 18th century.

Pride and Prejudice is one of the best Jane Austen’s works. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice had a long and varied life before it finally saw publication on January 28, 1813. After that, her father wrote to London bookseller Thomas Cadell on November 1, 1797 to offer it for publication but it was rejected. Then her family relocated to Bath in 1801 and she gave up writing for almost five years after the deaths of both her father and a close friend in 1805. It was not until to 28 January of 1813, the novel was published and become her second published novel.

In the period of early 18th century, this work was really a masterpiece and marked a great turn for English literature. In this novel, the writer Austen used the ironic writing style and humorous prose, which had not been in other contemporary novels, to reflect the contemporary society and man who lives in different social circumstances and classes most precisely. Through Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen blew a new aspiration into English Literature at the beginnings of the 19th century. It is worth of being the most progressive novel in the Romanticism.

The world of Jane Austen’s novels is singularly fascinating with its charming protagonists, the detailed Regency culture and beautifully drawn personalities. In her masterpiece, Austen has captured with ease the human nature at its best and at its pitfalls. She has marvelously colored the story with the bucolic scenes of the English countryside while lending her maverick nature to her female heroines.

Jane Austen was born the youngest of seven children, to a rector on December 16, 1775, in the village of Hampshire, Steventon. She had an older sister, Cassandra who remained her close confidant and dear friend throughout her life. Austen grew up in a family that encouraged and supported her voracious reading habits, and her talent for writing; her brothers often published her writings under a male pseudonym (as was the habit at the time). She grew up surrounded by minor landed gentry and the country clergy, later to be portrayed often in her novels.

Austen first began writing at the age of fourteen for the entertainment of her family, her stories read out aloud before the warmth of the fire. Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey and Pride and Prejudice were first conceived in this manner, before being revised to their present stature. Austen had managed to complete these three novels by the age of twenty-four. During her lifetime, she wrote and published six novels including Mansfield Park, Persuasion, and the popular Emma. Austen’s novels may on first read seem to be simply romantic novels written during the Napoleonic era, but on closer examination, they prove to be small stories with strong plots and impeccable wit. Her subtle use of psychology and irony combined with the integrity she dispatches to her heroes and heroines mark her genius for storytelling.

While Austen wrote during a time of war between England and France, and of severe brutality to the impoverished classes, none of the bitter and tragic occurrences of the time have found echoes in her novels. As she herself once commented, “three or four families in a country village is the very thing to work on,” Austen preferred the domestic scene, writing of relationships, misgivings and misunderstandings, smaller trials and tribulations of marriages and friendships.

Writing in third person, Austen does not give actual descriptions of the characters herself in the process of narrating, but allows the reader to plunge into the story and discover for himself their depth and limitations. She maneuvers her cast with a light hand, through self-doubt and rough sailing, to self-awareness and smooth waters. She remarked her writing to be “a little bit of ivory”, but her stories do not cast such impressions upon the reader. On the contrary, her writing in her flawless prose depicts the universality of her themes of acceptance of self and rigidity of one’s thought without conforming to societal notions. She writes to strike the heart of the reader, while giving intelligent reasons for her protagonists’ opinions.

Austen did not conform to the Gothic style of prose in her novels, or to Romanticism. She wrote with refreshing originality in a time where both aforementioned styles were common and expected. Austen found many critics including writers like Edgar Allen Poe and Emily Bronte, but also found admirers in Virginia Woolf and George Bernard Shaw.

Austen’s Influence on American Authors

The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet is the tragic basis for many love stories. The tale of the two star-crossed lovers inspired Stephanie Meyer to write Twilight. Edward and Bella came from two different worlds, but made it to the end still in love and breathing. Bella read Jane Austen novels to try to unwind and relax. Jane Austen’s novels are not easy to read, but they have inspired authors to write similar situations and sequels of what they want to have happen next. It is necessary to know about Jane Austen’s life to understand her writing. Jane Austen’s life and literature can relate to life in America today. This has influenced many American authors, both male and female, to write stories similar to hers.

Jane Austen based her novels on her life and her family and friend’s lives. In her novels, she proved how important love and social status meant to her and in society. Jane Austen was enlightened by the ease she experienced while in Kent and Bath, though she claimed to hate living in Bath. She decided to write novels about families who lived there. In 1790, Jane Austen had written the first drafts of her first three novels, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Northanger Abbey. Jane Austen began writing ‘the Watsons’, but most likely did not finish when her father passed away.

Sense and Sensibility, first written as ‘Elinor and Marianne’, was the first to be published in October 1811. “There is something so amiable in the prejudices of a young mind, that one is sorry to see them give way to the reception of more general opinions.” This was a story about two sisters and their romantic adventures. Pride and Prejudice – “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.” This story was about the five Bennett sisters and their search for husbands. Mansfield Park was the third her novel published in 1814. “Life seems nothing more than a quick succession of busy nothings.” This was a story about a quiet girl and her secret admiration of the one she thought she could not have. Emma was her fifth novel published in 1815. “There are people who the more you do for them, the less they will do for themselves.” This was a story about a nosy, upper class woman who makes a few mistakes about love and learns from them.

Northanger Abbey, first written as ‘Susan’, was her fifth novel published in 1817. The novel was sup

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