How has Pride and Prejudice impacted the literary world?

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marbar57 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think Pride and Prejudice is one of the greatest novels ever written!  My reasons are based on the power the book has had in exposing the often cruel, sometimes ridiculous practices of the upper class throughout Europe, namely England, during the early years of the 19th Century.  It draws attention to the pride and arrogance of the wealthy people of England in their lifestyle, apparel, modes of travel, parties (and most appalling of all), the manner in which they courted and married each other.  Most of the time, it was for money, wealth, and position, seldom for love.

In Pride and Prejudice, both Elizabeth Bennett and Lord Darcy have to overcome pre-conceived notions and prejudices to arrive at a mutual understanding of each other and eventually true love.  The author wonderfully brings out a tender, warm side of both characters as they learn to look past the outward appearance, environment, manners, and social station of each other.  

The book has so impacted the world that today several versions of the movie have been made, a mini-series on television, and many reprints of the book.  It is typed as being a satire, which means a piece of work in which its author is making fun of or pointing out flaws in society that need to be done away with or overcome.  I think this book will never outgrow its delightful appeal for generations! 

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One way Austen's work impacted the literary world is through the author herself.  A book that contained complex characters, intricate plot development, and reflected to raise the understanding about the condition of both men and women is impressive enough.  Yet, given the time period and the constraints placed on women, to have a woman as the author of the work helped to begin the process of inclusion of women on multiple fronts.  One way was for women to be considered to have an active role in the creation and execution of literature.  A more reflective importance of the work was that women authors started to become an incorporated voice in the collection of what defined "Literature."  The work is important because it helps to address the crisis of representation that literary discourse cannot, but tragically does, endure.  To this end, Austen's work has both literary and academic value.

mkcapen1 | Student

In Pride and Prejudice marriage serves many functions. It is a romantic union, a financial merger, and a vehicle for social regulation. Scholar and writer Mary Poovey said that Austen's goal "is to make propriety and romantic desire absolutely congruent."

The opening quote is a good example of how the literary world felt about Jane Austen's book Pride and Prejudice.  Using her literary wit she defined the impact of female social dependence on men for livelihood and any type of quality of life.  Some early writers defined her work as being too easily submissive, such as when Elizabeth falls into marriage with Darcy.  While others recognized that she was the true feminist of her day. 

Literature teachers and writers found Jane's novel to provide good examples of argument and purpose.  For example, the marriage proposals that were received by Elizabeth projected different levels of truth.  Some of the men were more about marrying for their own needs while others were trying to persuade Elizabeth to marry them because of a sincere desire to provide her with happiness.  Austen's treatment of persuasion is extremely complex and relies on the changing emotion of her characters and the circumstances in their lives.   

Austen’s novels do reflect the eighteenth-century concept of persuasion, but they also convincingly work through some of its limitations.

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Pride and Prejudice

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