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Pride And Prejudice Essay, Research Paper

This passage is taken from Elizabeth and Wickham?s invitation to dinner by the

Philips? at Meryton. The passage focuses on Wickham?s wickedness and Elizabeth?s

feelings about the proceedings.

Jane Austen adopts two main forms of narrative modes, referred to as the ?telling?

and ?showing? in which the ?telling? mode of narration carries the voice of a narrator which

summarizes the actions and thoughts of the characters, whereas the more dramatic

mode of ?showing? uses dialogues which allow the reader to visualize and hear the

?characters act and speak for themselves.? These techniques allow the novelist to create

an understanding of the various dispositions and shape the impressions and ideas the

readers would get by the portrayed attitude of the characters.

The passage begins with ?telling? in which the narrator introduces us to Mr

Wickham whose inquisitive and discreet manners is exposed when he whispers to

Elizabeth with the intention to inquire on how Mr Collins is associated ?with the family of

de Bough.? Wickham as we understand later in the novel, is a fortune-hunter and his

curiosity here, gives hint to this mercenary attribute. Wickham also sways Elizabeth?s

attention from the rest of the guests and indulge himself in gossip and this action during

a social gathering, exposes to the readers, Wickham?s unethical manners.

The passage proceeds by ?showing? all of Wickham?s subtleties at wickedness

and manipulation, which is part of Austen?s narrative technique of revealing her

characters through their speech. Wickham?s character as the villain in Pride and

Prejudice is invented not only to intensify the plot in the novel but also to heightens

Elizabeth?s prejudice and the negative impression she has of Darcy, which later resulted

in her rejection of Darcy?s marriage proposal. Not only through Austen?s ?telling? that we

are aware of Wickham?s ability to manipulate, but Austen is also ?showing? us this side of

him when he deliberately assumes that Elizabeth ?know of course that Lady Catherine de

Bough and Lady Anne Darcy were sisters?, in order to make sure that Elizabeth has no

knowlegde of ?Lady Catherine?s connections?, before he proceed to malign Darcy and his

family. Wickham is cunning enough to go a step further to furnish Elizabeth on their

relationship with Darcy, knowing that Elizabeth will be keen to partake in the

conversation, whenever Darcy is the object. Elizabeth reassures him that ?……I did not.- I

knew nothing at all of Lady Catherine?s connections. I never heard of her existence till

the day before yesterday.? Elizabeth?s quick affirmations of her having absolutely no

idea of Darcy or of his family shows an element of impatience and hunger for more

information about the topic being discussed. T

Knowing of the possible matrimonial attachment between Darcy and Miss de

Baugh, ?made Elizabeth smile as she thought of poor Miss Bingley.? Here, there is a shift

from direct speech to a term referred to as ?focalization?, whereby the ?point of view

conveyed is that of Elizabeth? showing her satisfaction over the fact that Miss Bingley

has no chance of having Darcy for herself as he is ?self-destined to another?. The

narrator?s ?telling? shows elements of sarcasm and mockery on the part of Elizabeth

towards Miss Bingley whose ?affection for his sister and her praise of himself?, was

thought to be ?vain and useless.? This shows that all along, Elizabeth is aware of Miss

Bingley?s effort to impress Darcy, which portrays her ability to ?read? the behaviour of

other characters. Austen also throws subtle irony on Elizabeth?s reaction to the news

which reveals her unconscious interests on Darcy.

everyone connected with him should have an understanding of the first class?.

Here, it is obvious that Wickam is actually targetting his statement at Darcy and his

ulterior motive of providing the information on Darcy?s family, is done solely to serve his

own interests. He main intention is to jeopardize Darcy?s reputation. His remarks which

emphasize on Darcy?s class-consciousness help heighten Elizabeth?s dislike against him

(Darcy). Wickham?s sly and manipulative nature is again depicted in this aspect. Austen

weakens the readers negative impression of Darcy by ?contrasting him with Mr Wickham.?

Darcy?s conceited manners remain unpleasant but he does not participate in Miss

Bingley?s nasty dismissals of Elizabeth and her family. Though well liked by many,

Wickham?s ability of sullying Darcy?s family in front of a comparative stranger further

reveals his lack of self respect.

The final paragraph returns to the narrative mode of ?telling? which focalizes on

Elizabeth?s feelings on the event that has just taken place. Elizabeth perceives that

Wickham ?had given a very rational account of it? which is obviously derived from her

prejudice against Darcy. The narrator then slips into the voice of the neighbourhood, a

term known as ?free indirect speech?, which says that Wickham?s ?manners

recommended him to everybody. Whatever he said, was said well…..? . This method of

narration allows Austen to create an impression of a small, close-knit society largely

dependent upon reports, gossips and superficial impressions. Austen does not wish to

focus too much on Lydia and Collins and therefore summarizes their actions and

conversation largely through the eyes of Elizabeth. This paragraph has both the

narrative modes of ?telling? and ?showing? especially when she the narrator summarizes

Lydia and Collin?s actions, through the eyes of Elizabeth.

This passage carries the themes of pride, prejudice, money, appearance versus

reality and marriage. Both Darcy and Elizabeth have pride in themselves prejudice for

each other. Darcy takes pride in his social standings and is too class conscious which

resulted in him being prejudice against Elizabeth. The accumulation of wealth has

provide him with so much confidence and pride. Elizabeth on the other hand takes pride

in her ability to study characters and has so much confidence in her first impression of

people. She is able to perceive that something is wrong between Darcy and Wickham

and she is extremely perspective about Collins, after reading his letter and wonder if he

is a sensible man. However even with this perception, her judgement is clouded by her

prejudice which is too strong against Mr Darcy that she becomes too gullible in trusting

Wickham. Elizabeth despise Darcy because he snubs her and hurts her pride by

refusing to dance with her. Due to this unpleasant first impression, Elizabeth readily

believes Wickham?s words because his ?very countenance may vouch for his being

amiable?. Her rash inclination causes her to be more convinced of Darcy?s unworthiness

of character. However, both Darcy and Elizabeth have to lower their pride and discard

their prejudices if they need to live in harmony together.

Wickham?s fine countenance, and good manners have made him popular with the

people in the neighbourhood but in reality, he is an evil man, who is wealth seeking and

elopes with Lydia, causing tension in the novel. Austen shows the danger of trusting

one?s first impression and basing our judgement on appearance. However, Austen

characters are able to learn from their mistakes evident when Elizabeth scolded herself

for her misjudgements and for being too trusting of Wickham. Her first impression of

Darcy and Wickham shows that she is human and is prone to make mistake and to learn

from those mistakes.

The passage hints on the matrimonial attachments between Darcy and Miss de

Bough. This type of marriage is too ?business-like?, involving the possession of wealth

between two people from the came social positions. Marriage is seen to be a very

important issue during that era as women are pressure to leave her house and follow her

husband. In Pride and Prejudice, Austen makes it clear that a faithful, rational

relationship is desirable and Elizabeth and Darcy, though clearly an inversion of romantic

expectations meets this criteria. However, Charlotte-Collins relationship is also

unconventional but suffers some criticism. Mr and Mrs Bennet marriage is depicted as

one which could not provide a good model for their children. Mr Bennet has a

disinterested attitude towards his family gives reason to Lydia?s effrontery to elope. He is

also not wise in handling his money matters which makes him unable to pay Wickham?s


This passage displays many of the narrative techniques and themes Austen uses

in the novel as a whole, which shows her skill as an author.


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