Illustration of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy with neutral expressions on their faces

Pride and Prejudice

by Jane Austen
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Is "light, bright and sparkling" an adequate description of Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice? Elucidate.

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Very interesting quote you have been given. The problem that I personally have with it is that it makes out Pride and Prejudice to be a superficial novel, without depth or without talent. It reminds me of one of my lecturers when I was studying English who said to our seminar group (which was about 75% female) that Jane Austen's novels were a 18th Century form of chic-lit and were only for single menopausal women. You can imagine how that went down - the lynching only lasted for 5 minutes before security came in and escorted the lecturer away :-).

The problem is with views like this quote is that it ignores that Pride and Prejudice is about serious issues. Yes it is hilariously funny in places, and the humour is something we can all appreciate, and it does make the novel "sparkle", but often the humour covers up serious, brutal realities of life for Austen's heroines, and indeed, for women in general at that time. For example, one of the key issues is the importance of marriage and how vital it was for women. If we understand that then we can understand how happy Charlotte Lucas was to marry even someone as stupid as Mr. Collins - it gave her independence, social standing and prevented her from becoming a spinster who was a dependent nuisance to her family. Understanding this fact gives new meaning to Mr. Collins' chilling threat to Elizabeth that if she does not accept him she might never get another proposal.

So - don't be deluded by the humour and superficial "shell" that Pride and Prejudice has - probe a little deeper and you will see it is about a lot more than just bodices and balls.

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