In the novel Pride and Prejudice, how has Austen shown irony through different characters? Explain with reference from the book.

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slchanmo1885 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mr. Bennet is one of the characters who both lives in irony and utilizes it. He is a character who is surrounded by people who care about social status and improving their lot in life, and yet he could care less. His wife is a ridiculous character who is obsessed with marrying off their daughters, and he deals with her with sarcastic comments and witticisms. He almost never agrees with his wife. When Mr. Collins proposes to Elizabeth and she refuses, her mother asks Mr. Bennet to make Elizabeth marry Mr. Collins, or she will never speak to her again. Mr. Bennet tells Elizabeth, “From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents – Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do” (Chapter 20). He shows his love by using humor to let her know that he is on her side.

Elizabeth also uses irony as a way of social commentary on the people around her. In describing Mr. Darcy, she remarks, “I am perfectly convinced by it that Mr. Darcy has no defect. He owns it himself without disguise" (Chapter 11). In fact Elizabeth feels that Mr. Darcy has many flaws. Elizabeth is also a bit of an ironic character because she so readily makes judgements on others but cannot see her own faults. She readily uses irony to make snide remarks about other people, and she prides herself on her perceptions, yet she is often blind to the truth about people.

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Pride and Prejudice

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