Pride and Prejudice


Jane Austen

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Pride and Prejudice: Genre 1 key example

Explanation and Analysis:

As a “novel of manners,” Pride and Prejudice focuses on its characters’ subtle behaviors (or “manners”) that signal their particular positions within the socioeconomic hierarchy of their specific society. Austen does not spend much time vividly describing scenery or engaging in lyrical language. Instead, she pays attention to all of the minutiae of social interactions, including the ways that Elizabeth’s family members betray their lower social standing in front of Darcy and Bingley as well as attempts by characters to share their displeasure in roundabout or “polite” ways.

Pride and Prejudice is also a social comedy, in that it uses irony, satire, and humor to highlight the absurdity of the social dynamics mentioned above. Rather than merely capturing these social subtleties in a realist or more serious way, Austen plays with them. She includes characters like Mrs. Bennet and Collins who, respectively, serve as exaggerated versions of marriage-obsessed mothers and aristocrat-worshipping landed gentry. Much of the novel centers on the irony of Elizabeth and Darcy’s pride and prejudice in regards to the other, showing how class prejudices can get in the way of seeing the other clearly.

Lastly, the novel is a coming-of-age story. Though Elizabeth considers herself mature for her age, she is only 20 years old and, over the course of the novel, comes to realize that she has much to learn about pride, prejudice, and love. At the start of the book she is convinced that Darcy is “the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world,” and by the end she loves him and has apologized for judging him without just cause.