I remember when I studied my BA in English and one of my lecturers dismissed this novel as being a form of Victorian "chic-lit" that is only really for women. As you can imagine, he was not very popular with my fellow students - both male and female. I guess one of the key aspects of Austen´s literature is her sense of social comedy - her ability to satirise and mock conventions of her day in the form of characters gives us a real insight into life in these times. Thus in Pride and Prejudice Mrs. Bennet is a complete caricature of a woman whose only goal in life is to get her daughters married off well, and will achieve this at any cost. We see life as a battlefield fought between mothers and daughters in drawing rooms over games of whist and dancing, where any attractive and financially solvent male becomes fair game. As such her writing is very funny but also has a strand of realism that makes us sympathise with Lizzy Bennet as she holds out for a marriage of love in such an environment.
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