Jane Austin was the first to publish a masterpiece novel concerning the daily lives of ordinary people. Until then the themes were more public or general ones. It was in the Romantic era when such novels were becoming popular.
Jane Austen and her Works
She was born in 1775 in Stevenson, a town in England and lived there for most of her life. Her father was a clergyman, with eight children, and lived in a middle class society. This reflects in her books, as her disdain for the upper class is evident. She was home schooled and enjoyed reading, which led to her being well read. Her father’s encouragement and her own enjoyment in reading led Jane to become very well read.
Her habit was to write when at gatherings and social events. Whilst others talked, she would sit in a corner and write. This is how Pride and Prejudice was written. By 1815, the Prince of Wales favored her books and they became known everywhere. She wrote during the period of the American war of independence and the industrial revolution but ignored these events. She died of cancer in 1817 and was buried in Winchester having written six novels.
Analysis of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice, was her second novel, written when she was under twenty one. She first called it “First Impression” because the book was about prejudices based on first impressions and later she decided Pride and Prejudice more accurate. It is a gentle satire exposing the ignorance of the people. The characters of Mrs. Bennet, a foolish woman obsessing over her daughter’s marriage, Lydia Bennet who flirts and gossips and Mr. Collins a conceited man making a fool of himself over Lady Catherine exemplify these characteristics.
The novel tends to be intellectual with little emotion expressed. Ideas and attitudes are what move the plot forward. Emotion is hinted at but not seen. Using discrimination and perceptiveness, she brings her message over in a witty, simple style.
The primary theme of her book is courting and marriage, presented in a humorous manner, with an intelligent point of view. The first sentence in her book links it to the period as she makes clear her subject is mans social life. She presents seven marriages and through them, she makes known her views concerning marriage. Each marriage reveals different aspects. Darcy and Elizabeth are successfully married, Jane Bennet and Bingley are also successfully married however for different reasons. “His expectations of Felicity, to be rationally founded”. (55)
Lydia’s marriage to Wickham, based on looks, is soon in trouble. Mr. Bennet is in a poor marriage based on sexual attraction that led to him being weak as a father. Mr. Collins and Charlotte have a marriage based on money. Austin regarded this as a form of prostitution and destined to unhappiness.
My Personal Response
Jane Austen’s use of satire was gentle and not hurtful as satire can be. Her simplicity was also appealing, in that while her ideas were complex she used ordinary English to express them. The humor is a relief and the subject is one that touches everyone in daily life.
Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1995.
Adventures in English Literature. Orlando: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, 1985.
Some writing tips:
- An analytical essay mostly explores another piece of writing, such as a book.
- If you’re writing about a work of fiction, your focus can be one the characters, or a sentence that is central to the work.
- Write a thesis statement in a sentence or two. You may add background of your topic as well in introduction.
- Make an outline with introduction, at least three body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
- Your paragraphs need a topic sentence, and something from the book text. Your personal reactions can be noted.
- Your conclusion should bring your thesis and paragraphs together.
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