Pride and Prejudice (1813) is the second of Jane Austen’s canonical six novels. The book was originally entitled First Impressions and is deemed a work that initiated her ascent into the more serious side of fiction writing. This novel is seminal for students of the rise of the novel due to the richness of the historical material, combined with a thorough organization of the form, and the introduction of free-indirect-speech, setting it apart from the many prose works that came before her time. While the Gothic trend had been prevalent up to the date of its publication, Austen’s preference for the social atmosphere she describes stems from the Gentry lifestyle in which she was raised. In light of the novel’s ending, in addition to her well-documented relationship with her sister, Cassandra, the two may have not been able to help themselves from thinking about what it meant to marry into money, since opportunities for women at the time were non-existent, and this affects the plot. Austen channeled her feelings for the capability of women by tempering her heroine, Elizabeth Bennett, with impressive traits of independence and intelligence, while still adhering to the reality that marriage was the only future to be had. The subject of marriage is insinuated as a troubling concern by the commentary coming from Lizzy’s mother, Mrs. Bennett, who is presented as perpetually worried that her daughters might not be able to find a suitable match which will get them through their lives. What is important to remember as we understand Austen’s depiction of the times is that she imbued her narrative with the essence of the sincerest humor, which serves to cap off the story with feelings of incredible warmth in spite of the subtextual connotations. If you haven’t already, please read Pride and Prejudice as soon as possible.
Jane Austen lived from 1775-1817.