Thursday, September 19, 2019

Irony and Social Commentary in Pride and Prejudice Essay -- Jane Auste

Irony and social commentary in â€Å"Pride and Prejudice† Like any other society, nineteenth-century England had its share of foppish fools and fawning leeches, hot-blooded lovers and garrulous, gossiping women. While few people exhibit these failings with abandonment, few escape their taint altogether. In the novel â€Å"Pride and Prejudice,† the author Jane Austen satirizes these instances of – not social evils– rather, unpleasant social peculiarities, via a most careful use of irony in the dialogues and thoughts of some of her most delightful characters. The main character indulging in this precious commodity is Mr. Bennet, whom Austen considers important enough that a razor-sharp wit forms a necessary part of his personality. The irony is chiefly exhibited in two ways: a general ambience that results from a frequent use of satirical language (as for instance, the incessant use of antithesis in the conversations) and brief but concentrated attacks by Mr. Bennet against all forms of foolishness – harmless or otherwise. All the formulaic mannerisms affected by the people in his society as well as the social obligations that create them become the target of Mr. Bennet’s criticism. However, it is clear that Mr. Bennet is very much a part of the society that he so readily despises. That he persists in making fun of it is what makes his ripostes so rife with incongruity. The novel contains a large array of conversations between different characters; these conversations are, in keeping with the style that prevailed in that period, quite elaborate, indeed sometimes to the point of tedium. Austen portrays an attitude of unflagging boredom in Mr. Bennet when confronted with such speeches, through his incessant ironic asides. T... ...eaning in these seemingly innocuous words, for the former implies prostitution and the latter – a dishonorable pregnancy with a bastard child. Given the venomous character of such fairly commonplace gossip – even among the presumably ‘respectable’ rural middle-class – ’tis no wonder that Austen rallies against such a harmful form of frivolity. Austen therefore uses the difficult tool of irony to great effect in portraying the foolishness – both harmful and harmless – which afflicts most people. In doing so, she effectively delivers social commentary presumably for the purpose of correcting these defects in character of her fellow Englishmen. Along the way, the reader is delightfully entertained by the fools inhabiting â€Å"Pride and Prejudice† as well as the personalities that persist in denouncing it, in a manner that is at times more farcical than satirical. 6

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