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Pride and Prejudice is a novel by Jane Austen. First published in 1813, as her second novel, she started it 1796 as her first persevering effort for publication. She finished the original manuscript by 1797 in Steventon, Hampshiremarker, where she lived with her parents and siblings in the town rectory. Austen originally called the story First Impressions, but it was never published under that title; instead, she made extensive revisions to the manuscript, then retitled and eventually published it as Pride and Prejudice. In renaming the novel, Austen may have had in mind the final chapter of Fanny Burney's Cecilia, itself called "Pride and Prejudice" and where the phrase appears three times in block capitals. (She may also have been concerned that the original title might be confused with other works.)

The story follows the main character Elizabeth Bennet as she deals with issues of manners, upbringing, moral rightness, education and marriage in her aristocratic society of early 19th century England. Elizabeth is the second eldest of five daughters of a country gentleman landed in the fictional town of Meryton in Hertfordshiremarker, not far from London.

Though the story's setting is uniquely turn of the 19th century, it retains a fascination for modern readers, continuing near the top of lists of 'most loved books' and receiving considerable attention till yet from literary critics. This modern interest has resulted in a number of dramatic adaptations and a plethora of novels and stories imitating Austen's memorable characters or themes.

To date, the book has sold some 20 million copies worldwide.

Plot summary

As the novel opens, Mr Bingley, a wealthy young gentleman, rents a country estate near the Bennets called Netherfield. He arrives in town accompanied by his fashionable sisters and his good friend, Mr Darcy. While Bingley is well-received in the community, Darcy begins his acquaintance with smug condescension and proud distaste for all the 'country' people. Bingley and Jane Bennet begin to grow close despite Mrs Bennet's embarrassing interference and the opposition of Bingley's sisters, who consider Jane socially inferior. Elizabeth is stung by Darcy's haughty rejection of her at a local dance and decides to match his coldness with her own wit.

At the same time Elizabeth begins a friendship with Mr Wickham, a militia officer who relates a prior acquaintance with Darcy. Wickham tells her that he has been seriously mistreated by Darcy. Elizabeth immediately seizes upon this information as another reason to hate Darcy. Ironically, but unbeknown to her, Darcy finds himself gradually drawn to Elizabeth.

Just as Bingley appears to be on the point of proposing marriage he quits Netherfield, leaving Jane confused and upset. Elizabeth is convinced that Bingley's sisters have conspired with Darcy to separate Jane and Bingley.

Before Bingley leaves, Mr Collins, the male relative who is to inherit Longbourn, makes a sudden appearance and stays with the Bennets. He is a recently ordained clergyman employed by the wealthy and patronizing Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Though he was partially entreated to visit by his patroness, Collins has another reason for visiting: he wishes to find a wife from among the Bennet sisters. Mr. Bennet and Elizabeth are amused by his self-important and pedantic behavior. He immediately enters pursuit of Jane; however, when Mrs Bennet mentions her preoccupation with Mr Bingley, he turns to Elizabeth. He soon proposes marriage to Elizabeth, who refuses him, much to her mother's distress. Collins immediately makes another proposal and marries Elizabeth's close friend, Charlotte Lucas, who invites Elizabeth to stay with them.

In the spring, Elizabeth joins Charlotte and her cousin at his parish in Kentmarker. The parish is adjacent to Rosings Park, the grand manor of Mr Darcy's aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, where Elizabeth is frequently invited. While calling on Lady Catherine, Mr Darcy encounters Elizabeth. She discovers from a friend of Darcy that it was he who separated Bingley and Jane. Soon after, Darcy admits his love of Elizabeth and proposes to her. Insulted by his high-handed and insulting manner of proposing, Elizabeth refuses him. When he asks why she should refuse him, she confronts him with his sabotage of Bingley's relationship with Jane and Wickham's account of their dealings.

Deeply shaken by Elizabeth's vehemence and accusations, Darcy writes her a letter justifying his actions. The letter reveals that Wickham cheated him and in order to exact revenge and acquire part of Darcy's fortune, he attempted to seduce Darcy's young sister Georgiana, almost persuading her to elope with him. Darcy also justifies his actions towards Bingley and Jane by explaining that as Jane did not visibly show any reciprocal interest in his friend, his aim in separating them was mainly to protect Bingley from heartache. Darcy also admits he was concerned about the potential disadvantageous association with Elizabeth's embarrassing mother and wild younger sisters. As a result of the letter, Elizabeth is prompted to question both her family's behaviour and Wickham's credibility, and comes to the conclusion that Wickham is not as trustworthy as his easy manners would indicate and her early impressions of Darcy may not have been accurate. Soon after receiving the letter Elizabeth returns home.

Elizabeth tells her father that Darcy was responsible for uniting Lydia and Wickham.
This is one of the two earliest illustrations of Pride and Prejudice.


Some months later, during a tour of Derbyshiremarker with her aunt and uncle, Elizabeth visits Pemberley, Darcy's estate. Darcy's housekeeper, an older woman who has known Darcy since childhood, presents Elizabeth and her relatives with a flattering and benevolent impression of his character. Unexpectedly, Darcy arrives at Pemberly as they tour its grounds. He makes an effort to be gracious and welcoming to them, thus strengthening Elizabeth's newly favourable impression of him. Darcy then introduces Elizabeth to his sister Georgiana. He treats her uncle and aunt very well, and finds them of a more sound character than her other relatives, whom he previously dismissed as socially inferior.

Elizabeth and Darcy's renewed acquaintance is cut short when news arrives that Elizabeth's younger sister Lydia has run away with Wickham. Initially, the Bennets believes that Wickham and Lydia have eloped, but soon it is surmised that Wickham has no plans to marry Lydia. Lydia's antics threaten the family's reputation and the Bennet sisters with social ruin. Elizabeth and her aunt and uncle hurriedly leave Derbyshire, and Elizabeth is convinced that Darcy will avoid her from now on.

Soon, thanks to the intervention of Elizabeth's uncle, Lydia and Wickham are found and married. After the marriage, Wickham and Lydia make a visit to Longbourne. While bragging to Elizabeth, Lydia comments that Darcy was present at the wedding. Surprised, Elizabeth sends an inquiry to her aunt, from whom she discovers that Darcy was responsible for both finding the couple and arranging their marriage at great expense to himself.

Soon after, Bingley and Darcy return to the area. Bingley proposes marriage to Jane, and this news starts rumors that Darcy will propose to Elizabeth. Lady Catherine travels to Longbourn with the sole aim of confronting Elizabeth and demanding that she never accept such a proposal. Elizabeth refuses to bow to Lady Catherine's demands. When news of this obstinance reaches Darcy, it convinces him that her opinion of him has changed. When he visits, he once again proposes marriage. Elizabeth accepts, and the two become engaged.

The final chapters of the book establish the future of the characters. Elizabeth and Darcy settle at Pemberley where Mr Bennet visits often. Mrs Bennet remains frivolous and silly, and often visits the new Mrs Bingley and talking of the new Mrs Darcy. Later, Jane and Bingley move from Netherfield to avoid Jane's mother and Meryton relations and to locate near the Darcys in Derbyshire. Elizabeth and Jane manage to teach Kitty greater social grace, and Mary learns to accept the difference between herself and her sisters' beauty and mixes more with the outside world. Lydia and Wickham continue to move often, leaving their debts for Jane and Elizabeth to pay off. At Pemberley, Elizabeth and Georgiana grow close, though Georgiana is surprised by Elizabeth's playful treatment of Darcy. Lady Catherine stays very angry with her nephew's marriage but over time the relationship between the two is repaired and she eventually decides to visit them. Elizabeth and Darcy also remain close with her uncle and aunt.

Main characters

  • Elizabeth Bennet is the main female protagonist. The reader sees the unfolding plot and the other characters mostly from her viewpoint. The second of the Bennet daughters at twenty years old, she is portrayed as intelligent, lively, attractive, and witty, with her faults being a tendency to judge on first impressions and perhaps being a little selective of the evidence she uses to base her judgments upon. As the plot begins, her closest relationships are with her father, her sister Jane, her aunt Mrs Gardiner, and her neighbour Charlotte Lucas.


  • Fitzwilliam Darcy is the main male protagonist. Twenty-eight years old and unmarried, Darcy is the wealthy owner of the famously superior estate Pemberley in Derbyshire. Portrayed as handsome, tall, and intelligent, but not convivial, his concern with decorum and moral rectitude is seen by many as an excessive concern for social status. He makes a poor impression on strangers, such as the people of Meryton, but is valued by those who know him well.


  • Mr Bennet has a wife and five daughters. Portrayed as a bookish and intelligent man somewhat withdrawn from society and one who dislikes the frivolity of his wife and three younger daughters, he offers nothing but mockery by way of correction. Rather than trying to lead his younger daughters down a more sensible path, he is rather content to laugh at them. His relationship with his two eldest daughters Jane and Elizabeth is much better and he appears to love and respect them far more than his wife and three younger daughters.


  • Mrs Bennet is the wife of Mr Bennet and mother of Elizabeth and her sisters. She is frivolous, excitable, and narrow-minded. She is susceptible to attacks of tremors and palpitations; her public manners and obsession with social climbing are embarrassing to Jane and Elizabeth. Her favourite daughter is the youngest, Lydia.
Lady Catherine confronts Elizabeth about Darcy, on the title page of the first illustrated edition.
This is the other of the first two illustrations of the novel.


  • Jane Bennet is the eldest Bennet sister. Twenty-two years old when the novel begins, she is considered the most beautiful young lady in the neighbourhood. Her character is contrasted with Elizabeth's as sweeter, shyer, and equally sensible, but not as clever; her most notable trait is a desire to see only the good in others. Jane is closest to Elizabeth and her character is often contrasted with Elizabeth. She, at the end, marries Mr Bingley.


  • Mary Bennet is the only plain Bennet sister, and rather than join in some of the family activities, she reads, although is often impatient for display. She works hard for knowledge and accomplishment, but has neither genius nor taste. At the ball at Netherfield, she embarrasses Elizabeth by singing badly.


  • Catherine "Kitty" Bennet is the fourth Bennet sister, aged seventeen. Portrayed as a less headstrong but equally silly shadow of Lydia.


  • Lydia Bennet is the youngest Bennet sister, aged fifteen. She is repeatedly described as frivolous and headstrong. Her main activity in life is socialising, especially flirting with the military officers stationed in the nearby town of Meryton. She dominates her older sister Kitty and is supported in the family by her mother. After she elopes with Wickham and he is paid to marry her, she shows no remorse for the embarrasment that her actions caused for her family, but acts as if she has made a wonderful match that her sisters should be jealous of.


  • Charles Bingley is a young gentleman without an estate; his wealth was made by trade and he is seeking a permanent home. He rents the Netherfield estate near Longbourn when the novel opens. Twenty-two years old at the start of the novel, handsome, good-natured, and wealthy, he is contrasted with his friend Darcy as being less intelligent but kinder and more charming, and hence more popular in Meryton. He lacks resolve and is easily influenced by others.


  • Lady Caroline Bingley is the proud and snobbish sister of Charles Bingley. Clearly harbouring romantic intentions on Darcy herself, she views his growing attachment to Elizabeth Bennet with some jealousy, resulting in frequent attempts to verbally undermine and disdain Elizabeth and her society.


  • George Wickham is an old acquaintance of Darcy, and an officer in the militia unit stationed near Meryton. A superficially charming man, he forms a friendship with Elizabeth Bennet, prompting many to remark upon his suitability as a potential husband. He spreads numerous tales about the wrongs Darcy has done to him, colouring the popular perception of the other man in local society; it is eventually revealed that these tales are distortions, and that Darcy was the more wronged man in their acquaintance.


  • William Collins is Mr Bennet's cousin and a clergyman, aged twenty-five. Since Mr Bennet has no sons, Collins is in line to inherit Mr Bennet's estate. Austen described him as "not a sensible man, and the deficiency of nature had been but little assisted by education or society". Collins is thought to be naively stupid by Mr Bennet, and Elizabeth rejects his marriage proposal. She is very distressed when her friend Charlotte Lucas decides to marry Collins out of desire for a settled position and to avoid being an old maid rather than from love. Collins constantly boasts about his acquaintance with the wealthy and pompous Lady Catherine de Bourgh.


  • Lady Catherine De Bourgh is haughty, pompous, egotistical, and domineering. Because of her wealth and social standing she believes she can command everyone around her. People such as Mr Collins contribute to this personality by acting as sycophants who bow to her every command. Her nephew Darcy initially does whatever his aunt requests out of respect for her, but by the end of the text, he makes the choice to go against her wishes and marry Elizabeth.


  • Mr Gardiner is Mrs Bennet's brother, and is quite sensible and gentlemanlike. He tries to help Lydia when she elopes with Wickham. His wife has close relationships with Elizabeth and Jane. Jane stays with the Gardiners in London for a while, and Elizabeth travels with them to Derbyshire, where she again meets Darcy.


Interrelationships

A comprehensive web showing the relationships between the main characters in Pride and Prejudice



Major themes

Many critics take the novel's title as a starting point when analysing the major themes of Pride and Prejudice; however, Robert Fox cautions against reading too much into the title since commercial factors may have played a role in its selection. "After the success of Sense and Sensibility, nothing would have seemed more natural than to bring out another novel of the same author using again the formula of antithesis and alliteration for the title. It should be pointed out that the qualities of the title are not exclusively assigned to one or the other of the protagonists; both Elizabeth and Darcy display pride and prejudice."

A major theme in much of Austen's work is the importance of environment and upbringing on the development of young people's character and morality. Social standing and wealth are not necessarily advantages in her world, and a further theme common to Jane Austen's work is ineffectual parents. In Pride and Prejudice, the failure of Mr and Mrs Bennet (particularly the latter) as parents is blamed for Lydia's lack of moral judgment; Darcy, on the other hand, has been taught to be principled and scrupulously honourable, but is also proud and overbearing. Kitty, rescued from Lydia's bad influence and spending more time with her older sisters after they marry, is said to improve greatly in their superior society.

Style

Pride and Prejudice, like most of Jane Austen's works, employs the narrative technique of free indirect speech. This has been defined as "the free representation of a character's speech, by which one means, not words actually spoken by a character, but the words that typify the character's thoughts, or the way the character would think or speak, if she thought or spoke". By using narrative which adopts the tone and vocabulary of a particular character (in this case, that of Elizabeth), Austen invites the reader to follow events from Elizabeth's viewpoint, sharing her prejudices and misapprehensions. "The learning curve, while undergone by both protagonists, is disclosed to us solely through Elizabeth's point of view and her free indirect speech is essential... for it is through it that we remain caught, if not stuck, within Elizabeth's misprisions."

Publication history

The novel was originally titled First Impressions by Jane Austen, and was written between October 1796 and August 1797. On 1 November 1797 Austen's father gave the draft to London bookseller Thomas Cadell in hopes of it being published, but it was rejected. The unpublished manuscript was returned to Austen and it stayed with her.

Austen made significant revisions to the manuscript for First Impressions between 1811 and 1812. She later renamed the story Pride and Prejudice. In renaming the novel, Austen probably had in mind the "sufferings and oppositions" summarized in the final chapter of Fanny Burney's Cecilia, called "Pride and Prejudice", where the phrase appears three times in block capitals. It is possible that the novel's original title was altered to avoid confusion with other works. In the years between the completion of First Impressions and its revision into Pride and Prejudice, two other works had been published under that name: a novel by Margaret Holford and a comedy by Horace Smith.

Austen sold the copyright for the novel to Thomas Egerton of Whitehall in exchange for £110 (Austen had asked for £150). This proved a costly decision. Austen had published Sense and Sensibility on a commission basis, whereby she indemnified the publisher against any losses and received any profits, less costs and the publisher's commission. Unaware that Sense and Sensibility would sell out its edition, making her £140, she passed the copyright to Egerton for a one-off payment, meaning that all the risk (and all the profits) would be his. Jan Fergus has calculated that Egerton subsequently made around £450 from just the first two editions of the book.

Egerton published the first edition of Pride and Prejudice in three hardcover volumes in January 1813, priced at 18s. Favourable reviews saw this edition sold out, with a second edition published in November that year. A third edition was published in 1817.

Foreign language translations first appeared in 1813 in French; subsequent translations were published in German, Danish and Swedish. Pride and Prejudice was first published in the United States in August 1832 as Elizabeth Bennet or, Pride and Prejudice. The novel was also included in Richard Bentley's Standard Novel series in 1833. R. W. Chapman's scholarly edition of Pride and Prejudice, first published in 1923, has become the standard edition from which many modern publications of the novel are based.

Reception

The novel was well received, with three favourable reviews in the first months following publication. Jan Fergus calls it "her most popular novel, both with the public and with her family and friends", and quotes David Gilson's A Bibliography of Jane Austen (Clarendon, 1982), where it is stated that Pride and Prejudice was referred to as "the fashionable novel" by Anne Isabella Milbanke, later to be the wife of Lord Byron. However, others did not agree. Charlotte Brontë wrote to noted critic and reviewer George Henry Lewes after reading a review of his published in Fraser's Magazine in 1847. He had praised Jane Austen's work and declared that he, "...would rather have written Pride and Prejudice, or Tom Jones, than any of the Waverley Novels". Miss Brontë, though, found Pride and Prejudice a disappointment, "...a carefully fenced, highly cultivated garden, with neat borders and delicate flowers; but... no open country, no fresh air, no blue hill, no bonny beck."

Modern popularity

  • In 2003 the BBC conducted the largest ever poll for the "UK's Best-Loved Book" in which Pride and Prejudice came second, behind The Lord of the Rings.
  • In a 2008 survey of more than 15,000 Australian readers, Pride and Prejudice came first in a list of the 101 best books ever written.


Adaptations

Film, television, and theatre

Pride and Prejudice has engendered numerous adaptations. Some of the notable film versions include that of 1940 starring Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier, that of 2003 starring Kam Heskin and Orlando Seale (which placed the characters of Pride and Prejudice in a Mormon university, and was directed by Andrew Black ), and that of 2005 starring Keira Knightley (in an Oscar-nominated performance) and Matthew Macfadyen. Notable television versions include two by the BBC: the 1995 version starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, and a 1980 version starring Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul. A 1936 stage version was created by Helen Jerome played at the St. James's Theatre in London, starring Celia Johnson and Hugh Williams. First Impressions was a 1959 Broadwaymarker musical version starring Polly Bergen, Farley Granger, and Hermione Gingold. In 1995, a musical concept album was written by Bernard J. Taylor, with Peter Karrie in the role of Mr Darcy and Claire Moore in the role of Elizabeth Bennet. A new stage production, Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, The New Musical, was presented in concert on 21 October 2008 in Rochester, New York with Colin Donnell as Darcy. In 2009, the proposal scene in which Darcy is rejected by Elizabeth Bennet was read by Dominic West in a reading for The Carte Noire Readers.

Literature

The novel has inspired a number of other works that are not direct adaptations. Books inspired by Pride and Prejudice include: Mr Darcy's Daughters and The Exploits and Adventures of Miss Alethea Darcy by Elizabeth Aston; Pemberley: Or Pride and Prejudice Continued and An Unequal Marriage: Or Pride and Prejudice Twenty Years Later by Emma Tennant; The Book of Ruth (ASIN B00262ZRBM) by Helen Baker; Pemberley Remembered by Mary Simonsen and Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife by Linda Berdoll. In Gwyn Cready's comedic romance novel, Seducing Mr. Darcy, the heroine lands in Pride and Prejudice by way of magic massage, has a fling with Darcy and unknowingly changes the rest of the story. Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding, which started as a newspaper column before becoming a novel and a film, was inspired by the then-current BBC adaptation; both works share a Mr Darcy of serious disposition (both played by Colin Firth), a foolish match-making mother, and a detached affectionate father. The self-referential in-jokes continue with the sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. Bride and Prejudice, starring Aishwarya Rai, is a Bollywood adaptation of the novel, while Pride & Prejudice: A Latter-Day Comedy (2003) places the novel in contemporary times. The off-Broadway musical I Love You Because reverses the gender of the main roles, set in modern day New York City. The Japanese comic Hana Yori Dango by Yoko Kamio, in which the wealthy, arrogant and proud protagonist, Doumyouji Tsukasa, falls in love with a poor, lower-class girl named Makino Tsukushi, is loosely based on Pride and Prejudice. A 2008 Israeli television six-part miniseries set the story in the Galilee with Mr Darcy a well-paid worker in the high-tech industry.

Pride and Prejudice has also crossed into the science fiction and horror genres. In the 1997 episode of science fiction comedy Red Dwarf entitled "Beyond a Joke", the crew of the space ship relax in a virtual reality rendition of "Pride and Prejudice Land" in "Jane Austen World". The central premise of the television miniseries Lost in Austen is a modern woman suddenly swapping lives with that of Elizabeth Bennet. In February 2009, it was announced that Elton John's Rocket Pictures production company was making a film, Pride and Predator, based on the story, but with the added twist of an alien landing in Longbourne. In March 2009, Quirk Books released Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which takes Austen's actual, original work, and laces it with zombie hordes, cannibalism, ninjas, and ultra-violent mayhem. Scheduled for publication in March 2010, Quirk Books has announced that it will produce a prequel which deals with Elizabeth Bennett's early days as a zombie hunter, entitled Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls

Yet another angle was introduced by Monica Fairview, who wrote about Miss Caroline Bingley in The Other Mr Darcy, published in October 2009.[3957]

Pride and Prejudice has also inspired many scholarly articles and books including: So Odd a Mixture: Along the Autism Spectrum in 'Pride and Prejudice' by Phyllis Ferguson Bottomer, Forewords by Eileen Sutherland and Tony Attwood.

Marvel has also published their take on this classic, releasing a short comic series of five issues that stays true to the original storyline. The first issue was published on 1 April 2009 and was written by Nancy Hajeski.

Author Amanda Grange wrote Mr Darcy's Diary in 2007 that tells the orginal story of Pride and Prejudice from the view of Mr Darcy. In 2009, she wrote Mr Darcy, Vampyre which reimagines Darcy as a vampire after he has married Elizabeth.

References

  1. The Works of Jane Austen
  2. http://www.monstersandcritics.com/dvd/reviews/article_1475660.php/Pride_and_Prejudice_%E2%80%93_Blu-ray_Review
  3. Janet M. Todd (2005), Jane Austen in Context, Cambridge University Press p. 127
  4. Valérie Cossy and Diego Saglia. "Translations". Jane Austen in Context. Ed. Janet Todd. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-521-82644-6.
  5. Pride and Prejudice (1940)
  6. Pride and Prejudice (2003)
  7. See Jennifer M. Woolston's “‘It’s not a put-down, Miss Bennet; it’s a category’”: Andrew Black’s Chick Lit Pride and Prejudice,” Persuasions Online 28.1 (Winter 2007).[1]
  8. Pride and Prejudice (2005)
  9. First Impressions the Broadway Musical
  10. Pride and Prejudice (1995)
  11. Pride and Prejudice: The New Musical
  12. http://www.quirkclassics.com
  13. ,
  14. http://marvel.com/catalog/?writer=Nancy%20Hajeski


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