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

Pride and Prejudice

by Jane Austen

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What elements are used in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen?

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This novel is famous for three elements: irony, satire and psychological realism. The first line of the novel, that a man with a fortune must be in want of a wife, is a textbook example of irony, or saying the opposite of what is meant: in fact, it is the people with marriagable daughters who are in want of rich husbands for them. 

The novel is a satire, poking fun at the marriage market, and especially at the need for a woman to nab a husband who can support her. Characters like Mrs. Bennet, with her single-minded pursuit of any husband for her daughters, no matter how odious, as long as he has sufficient income, is an example of this kind of satire. 

Yet Mrs. Bennet, though a type, is also undergirded with psychological realism, for if her husband dies, she and her daughters do lose home and income, pointing to the kind of real pressures women faced. We see perhaps the best example of realism, however, in Elizabeth Bennet, a charming but flawed character who makes decisions out of prejudice. This pushes the novel toward 19th century ideals of realism, especially in the focus on a realism invested in depicting everyday domestic situations. Elizabeth's emotions are realistic, such as her rage at Darcy for insulting her family and separating her sister and Bingley

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