Mood

Pride and Prejudice

by

Jane Austen

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Pride and Prejudice can help.

Pride and Prejudice: Mood 1 key example

Definition of Mood
The mood of a piece of writing is its general atmosphere or emotional complexion—in short, the array of feelings the work evokes in the reader. Every aspect of a piece of writing... read full definition
The mood of a piece of writing is its general atmosphere or emotional complexion—in short, the array of feelings the work evokes in the reader. Every aspect... read full definition
The mood of a piece of writing is its general atmosphere or emotional complexion—in short, the array of feelings the work evokes... read full definition
Chapter 36
Explanation and Analysis:

The sarcastic and emotionally detached narration of Pride and Prejudice contributes to a funny, light-hearted mood for the first half of the novel. Yes, Elizabeth comes to despise Darcy, and Jane is wounded by Bingley’s leaving Netherfield, but otherwise there is little turmoil in the early stages of the book.

As Elizabeth finds out that her prejudice against Darcy was misplaced—that Wickham is the one who deserves her vitriol—the mood of the novel begins to shift. Suddenly, Elizabeth is plagued by more complex emotions as she reckons with her pride and prejudice. This becomes apparent in Elizabeth’s response to the letter Darcy sends explaining the real story of his relationship with Wickham:

[H]er feelings were yet more acutely painful and more difficult of definition. Astonishment, apprehension, and even horror, oppressed her.

The phrases “acutely painful” and “horror oppressed her” indicate the start of a more serious and earnest mood. The mood becomes even more sincere as Elizabeth starts to fall in love with Darcy, entering a romantic register:

Such a change in a man of so much pride exciting not only astonishment but gratitude—for to love, ardent love, it must be attributed […] She respected, she esteemed, she was grateful to him, she felt a real interest in his welfare.

The climax of the story—Lydia and Wickham’s elopement—leads to a more dramatic and tense mood that is, eventually, cleared up, leaving the story to end on a happy note, with Elizabeth and Darcy’s engagement and marriage.

Chapter 44
Explanation and Analysis:

The sarcastic and emotionally detached narration of Pride and Prejudice contributes to a funny, light-hearted mood for the first half of the novel. Yes, Elizabeth comes to despise Darcy, and Jane is wounded by Bingley’s leaving Netherfield, but otherwise there is little turmoil in the early stages of the book.

As Elizabeth finds out that her prejudice against Darcy was misplaced—that Wickham is the one who deserves her vitriol—the mood of the novel begins to shift. Suddenly, Elizabeth is plagued by more complex emotions as she reckons with her pride and prejudice. This becomes apparent in Elizabeth’s response to the letter Darcy sends explaining the real story of his relationship with Wickham:

[H]er feelings were yet more acutely painful and more difficult of definition. Astonishment, apprehension, and even horror, oppressed her.

The phrases “acutely painful” and “horror oppressed her” indicate the start of a more serious and earnest mood. The mood becomes even more sincere as Elizabeth starts to fall in love with Darcy, entering a romantic register:

Such a change in a man of so much pride exciting not only astonishment but gratitude—for to love, ardent love, it must be attributed […] She respected, she esteemed, she was grateful to him, she felt a real interest in his welfare.

The climax of the story—Lydia and Wickham’s elopement—leads to a more dramatic and tense mood that is, eventually, cleared up, leaving the story to end on a happy note, with Elizabeth and Darcy’s engagement and marriage.

Unlock with LitCharts A+