Pride and Prejudice Questions and Answers
by Jane Austen

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Comment on the development of language in Pride and Prejudice.

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Pride and Prejudice can be seen as a "bridge" book, with one foot in the witty, epigrammatic style of the eighteenth century and another in the realist mode—and using the realistic diction—of the nineteenth century. While we have no early drafts of the novel, which began life about fifteen years before its publication as First Impressions, we know Austen heavily revised the novel between writing it in 1797 and publishing it in 1813.

Epigrams are short, pithy statements that declare a universal truth, often in a witty way. The opening line of the novel, while used as a textbook example of irony (which it is), is also written in an eighteenth-century epigrammatic style:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

Mary, who loves to read the balanced prose of the eighteenth-century Dr. Johnson, also sounds very eighteenth-century in her proclamations of wisdom:

Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are...

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