Explore the methods which writers use to develop the ways in which their characters see and understand their own worlds in ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ Austen first published ‘Pride and Prejudice’ in 1813 the novella touches on several themes such as prejudice, first impressions and pride; themes that individually define the main characters. Charlotte Perkin Gilman an American writer first published ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ in 1892, the novella touches upon attitudes in the nineteenth century towards women’s physical and mental health. Writers tend to contrast characters hoping to intrigue the readers in the variation of characterisation.
Throughout this essay I will illustrates the ways in which characters see and understand their own worlds through ‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen and ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ by Charlotte Perkin Gilman. Darcy is the character most often associated with pride and Elizabeth Bennett with prejudice. Ironically the novel was originally called ‘First Impressions’ an aspect Darcy seems to lack originally. Understanding the world can be perceived in many different aspects; literally or figuratively.
The protagonists; Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy capture our attention from the beginning of the novel. Austen is able to contradict the patriarchal society that existed in the nineteenth century, as she builds Elizabeth to be rational, strong and independent. Women were mainly seen in this time to entertain yet Elizabeth did not carry these traits. Her perspective of the world was different to how her mother saw her future, she rejects two men of which rank highly on the social ladder proposal towards her. Ironically she ends the novel marrying the wealthiest of them all. Whereas, Darcy originally is not fond of Elizabeth ‘She is tolerable, I suppose, but not handsome enough to tempt me’ his second glance at her changes his judgement he describes her eyes to be.
Darcy emits a character full of pride and arrogance qualities that seemed typical from a man of his status. The Yellow Wallpaper; the narrator sets an omniscient tone on the novella, it is written in first person narrative, for example ‘I’ this allows the readers to feel somewhat emotional attraction, towards the onset of the novella. The novella is a paradox; the narrator loses touch with the outer world, as she comes to a greater understanding of the inner reality of her life. It dwells upon a controversial issue; postnatal depression an illness that has become more common in our patriarchal society. ‘Pride and Prejudice’; Jane Austen effectively portrays the way characters can understand and see things, in a literal as well as metaphorical aspect. Ironically the protagonist; Elizabeth Bennet believes to have the greatest understanding of people yet she falls short when she fails to understand Wickam. Initially losing some of her pride ‘I who have prided myself on my discernment… how humiliating is this discovery’ she realises that she is a bad judge of character.
Though Elizabeth constantly reminds us of her understanding of characters she clearly in occasions see’s things differently. In addition, the narrator in ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ suffers from postnatal depression, however still manages to cope, because her source of relief is self-expressed through her creative and imaginative outlook on her depression. Her husband; John believes her depression to be a ‘temporary nervous depression – a slight hysterical tendency’. This quotation clearly suggests John relies more on his medical education than his wife’s feelings and opinions, he neglects her consultation on her illness, he just accepts the fact that he is not going to listen to her. Evidence of this is shown “You see he does not believe I am sick! And what can one do?”. This quotation further suggests there lack of communication in the relationship, John has trapped her in this room ‘for her health’ she describes her room, to be ‘horrid’ however because he is a high standing doctor which is initiated in the beginning of the novella, she believes him.
He trusts that the “illness” of hers is simply a nervous condition, which would easily be cured with lots of rest and very little intellectual time hence. Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy a main character in the novella arrives at Longbourn, originally the Bennets are fond of him ‘Darcy was clever. He was at the same time haughty, reserved and fastidious, and his manners, though well bred, were not inviting.. he was continually giving offence’ there thoughts of him had quickly changed. Austen builds him to be a character we become greatly fond of as we witness his beliefs towards Elizabeth’s family he is straight forward in that matter rude yet honest. However we grow knowledge of his action in the break-up of Jane and Mr Bingley, he was wrong about Jane’s feelings and in this he lacks the ability to understand what happens behind a situation.
Lady Catherine, who possesses wealth and social standing, is condescending, although her manner is seen by some as entirely proper and even admirable. She is a fixed character of exaggerated propensities, in her case representing the extremes of snobbish and pride and prejudice. Prejudice seems to be a theme that exists within all the characters, the hunger to wed into a wealthy family this touches on pride another theme that commonly exists. Austen conveys Lady Catherine to be the wicked witch, she is strong willed and values status her beliefs are traditional. The scene where Elizabeth is invited to her home she undermines her and disapproves of her family with her snide comments.
Darcy ‘looked a little ashamed of his ill-breeding’ he is offended by her lack of manners, especially towards Elizabeth, and later, courts her disapproval by marrying Elizabeth in spite of her objections. Lady Catherine indicates her understanding of her own world to be fairly clear, she believes highly in the social hierarchy and isn’t the least fond of mixing beneath her class. Overall, the two major themes of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice are summed up in the title.
The first aspect can be traced in the actions and statements of the work’s entire major and many of its minor characters. Austen and Charlotte share the comparison of misunderstood characters, the narrator in ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ and Darcy in ‘Pride and Prejudice’. Though 80% of Austens novel is dialogue this only seems to intrigues the readers more, suggesting that the characters appear to need to express themselves through writing, a reason may be because they feel they will able to justify themselves; Darcy and Elizabeth’s typical romance may have not blossomed if not for this. To conclude the themes that existed within both novellas were boldly effective.