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Jane Austin only wrote about what she knew; however, Pride and Prejudice appears to have been inspired by the events surrounding Jane’s life. Although this is not a bibliography of her life, there are several resemblances to her life that appeared in the novel. More specifically, it has been noted that her inspiration for the novel may have also had to do with the relationship that she had with her sister.
Being from a well-to-do family, Jane had first-hand knowledge of what women of her era had to do in order to become financially stable (1).
Her inspiration was also based on the lives of other members of her family such as her father and her brother, who were clergy men, which appears to be the inspiration behind the development of the character Mr. Collins, who was also a clergyman. Assumptions have also been made that her inspiration for this work was her relationship with a gentleman by the name of Tom LeFroy.
As gentlemen’s daughter, Jane knew what it was like for women in her position, who were from well-to-families, and who were daughters who needed to find a man of a certain stature and financial gains to care for her, thus, the character Mr. Bennet was conceived (1). Overall, her inspiration lies in her need to tell a story, which emphasizes the need for personal happiness over the need for wealth.
As Elizabeth and the Gardiners approached Pemberley, she is overwhelmed by its splendor and enormity.
Upon their arrival, they sought to find out how Darcy’s employees thought of him. To their surprise, Darcy was described as being a benevolent and caring person, of whom, they were pleased to be his employees. Of course, such a response came to be unexpected by the Gardiners, although they has never had the pleasure of meeting him. However, what they had heard about him was his level of pride. In response, Elizabeth began to wonder about what her life would be like had she been Darcy’s mistress, as well as accepting his proposal for marriage (2).
As the Gardiners and Elizabeth investigate the grounds of the domain, they are astonished to by their interaction with Mr. Darcy. This interaction was unexpected which caused Elizabeth to be embarrassed her presence there, but Darcy does not seem to mind her presence, as he expressed a sense of politeness. He had returned home sooner than he had expected because he knew that guests were coming. He also expresses to his guests that he would like for them to meet his sister, Georgiana. The Gardiners are in awe about his level of graciousness and Elizabeth was filled with amazement about the way things are at the moment (2).
Austen’s writing style in results in a detailed depictions of her characters, as her use of indirect discourse results in her use of writing in a third-person narrative. There is a dimension of insight in her writing that reflects a level of intelligence that the reader is compelled to recognize. Her style also reflects her exceptional writing ability and her psychological aptness that she is able to capture in her characters (3). Her writing is vivid to the point where the reader feels that he/she is present as the action takes place. As a result, she is able to capture the reader’s attention as she effortlessly takes to the reader to unexpected places and situations.
Based on the various themes centered around romanticism, it can be concluded that the intended audience for Pride and Prejudice is women and young women in particular. The central characters are women who are in search of the ultimate romantic attachment to a gentlemen of means who will be able to provide her with a secure and financially stable life. As a result, women as opposed to men are more likely to find this novel more appealing and relatable. What can be more romantically relatable than the line towards the ending of the chapter where Jane writes: “Their eyes instantly met, and the cheeks of each were overspread with the deepest blush” (2)
The impact and relevance of Pride and Prejudice during these modern times is that it is not far removed from the realities of modern day romantics who still believe in the power of love. Compelling love stories and the search for romance is a timeless ideal that continues to day. Like Shakespeare, Austin’s Pride and Prejudice explores the strengths, weaknesses that exist in relationships that exist among people, particularly when it comes to the experiences of pursuing a loving and romantic relationship.
Although this novel was written some 200 years ago, the relevance of the storyline continues to prevail. This supports what many have claimed, that Jane Austin was ahead of her time. A professor at Aberystwyth University located in Wales made three compelling points about the relevance of Austin’s writing by stating that: (1) “It’s certainly possible to read Austen’s novels as reassuring escapist fantasies, each book culminating in a marriage that appears to uphold the social order. We also love the fact that Jane Austen was a minute observer of human foibles;” (2) “Her novels are attuned to all those petty ambitions, desires and jealousies we like to think we keep hidden from our peers. We take vicarious pleasure in seeing hypocrites exposed and social climbers ridiculed;” and (3) “But there’s a far more interesting third reason why we still read Austen, two hundred years on. Her novels, especially Pride and Prejudice, are often considered to be harmless comedies of manners and morality, always set in polite society. But they actually contain much darker, more subversive subtexts, and we’re still able to respond to these. Austen’s novels aren’t fairy tales. Far from it.” (4).
1. Pride and Prejudice: Possible inspirations from Jane Austen’s life. (2015).
2. Pride and Prejudice. Chapter 43.
3. Shashkevich, A. (2017). Stanford Literary Scholars Reflect on Jane Austen’s Legacy.
Al-Mudallai, J. (2013). Why Pride and Prejudice is as Relevant Today as Ever Was.
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