Table of contents
- Introduction to Austen’s Stylistic Devices
- Exploring Connotations: Pride and Prejudice
- Irony and Wit: Crafting the Narrative
- Incongruities and Ambiguities: Deepening the Narrative
- Formality and Sophistication in Language
- Conclusion: The Artistry of Pride and Prejudice
Introduction to Austen’s Stylistic Devices
What is an author’s style? What are their voices and tone and how do they portray them throughout their writing? Jane Austen was an astonishing writer during the 18th century, who’s writing varied novel to novel. One of her greatest works being Pride and Prejudice. Within the novel, she uses many stylistic devices such as irony, incongruities, pacing, connotation, ambiguity, and point of view or perspective. Being the amazing author she is, she was capable of writing this novel using all of these devices to make a very entertaining as well as challenging to read novel. Her language throughout the book is very sophisticated and formal, and the vocabulary differs very much from our modern-day language, and especially from the colloquialisms that we are used to hearing in our everyday lives. Due to her use of formal language, her novel lacks too many colloquialisms, but instead, the character’s conversations are filled with witty, ironic comments containing endless amounts of satire and wordplay, make the novel impossibly difficult to stop reading. Through her use of stylistic devices such as ambiguity, pacing, and perspective, among others, as well as her formal diction and wording throughout the novel, Jane Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice and was able to portray themes as serious and gender roles and love, while including ironic comments and comedy throughout the novel making it truly an amazing work.
Exploring Connotations: Pride and Prejudice
Before even beginning the novel, the reader is faced with two very strong connotations, of two very commonly used words. Pride and prejudice are the two main themes of the novel, and the whole book centers around the idea that the connotation of those words is quite negative, or to put it more simply, the hidden meaning of those words can be hurtful in many situations. Furthermore, the novel describes pride as “ a very common failing”. One of the characters, Mary, describes it further, stating, “human nature is practically prone to it, and that there are very few of us who do not cherish a feeling of self-complacency… Pride and vain are very different things… A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates to our opinions of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us,” and as she says this, one may realize that though pride is just being proud of oneself, the book, or Austen, is saying that pride is bad and in fact, every mention of pride throughout the novel seems to be negative or in some way degrading. Though there is nothing wrong with being proud and happy with oneself, the connotation of the word is so different and so negative compared to the neutral connotation that at oftentimes, the true meaning of the word pride can be lost and forgotten. The same goes for prejudice. In the novel, the main character, Elizabeth, has much prejudice against Darcy due to rumors, and Darcy has much against her as well due to social status and pride, but throughout the whole novel, the negative connotations of pride and prejudice allow the reader to fully understand and interpret Austen’s stance on the two characteristics, and in a way it allows the reader to take a journey alongside the characters as they overcome them.
Irony and Wit: Crafting the Narrative
Alongside connotational meanings of words, Austen uses endless amounts of wit and irony in her novel. Her book was written in the 18th century when she was only 20 years old. She originally titled it “First Impressions” and it was later changed to accommodate the themes better. Being written so long ago, its wording is very different from our modern-day language and what most people have grown accustomed to, but her intelligence and message soak the pages of the novel. The opening line of Pride and Prejudice is already an example of irony, perspective, and foreshadowing in a way. Jane Austen writes, “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife,” and allows this sentence to possess many meanings, which gives it so much impact. Verbal irony is when something is said contrary to the truth, or in a very unexpected comedic way, and what is said is not what is meant. The opening line portrays verbal irony by saying that every man with wealth wants a good wife to go along with that money, even though in many instances that is not true. Also, the line seems to be said as something of Mrs. Bennet’s thinking, despite the third-person perspective of the novel. Mrs. Bennet is currently trying to marry off all five of her daughters, so clearly she believes, or at least wants to believe that many men are looking for suitable wives, which allows her to have more hope for her offspring. This irony continues throughout the entire novel, but there are also many appearances of situational irony, such as Mr. Darcy’s stance on Elizabeth. He originally believes that she is not attractive, but after being acquainted with her the reader watches him open up and ironically go to say that she is one of the smartest, most beautiful and most astonishing women that he has ever met. Darcy fell for her brains because Jane Austen developed a character that uses endless amounts of wit and satire in her speech in order to put other people around her in their place. With these very knowledgeable degrading comments, Darcy couldn’t help but ironically fall for the women he hated.
Later on, near chapter 20 of the first volume, Elizabeth encounters Mr. Wickham, a very kind man who is not on good terms with Darcy, and does everything in his power to make Elizabeth hate him by talking bad about him behind his back. This demonstrates dramatic irony because as Elizabeth paints her own horrible image of Darcy in her mind, the audience, or in this case the reader, is able to see that Darcy was originally slowly opening up to her, and Mr.Wickham is the antagonist as opposed to Darcy, the central love interest. With these many uses of irony, Austen wrote the novel very comically and in an entertaining manner. The quote of the opening line of the novel also shows the point of view or perspective because it starts the novel off without using the phrases “I”, “my”, or “me” which are at often time indicators for a novel written in the first person. Despite portraying what Mrs. Bennet’s stance on marriage is, this line, as well as the rest of the book, is written in a quite neutral demeanor. The book is also, though very detailed, written in a narration that is limited because it does not reveal the character’s thoughts. It only reveals the situation that is taking place around them, making it not omniscient. This quote is also an example of foreshadowing because nonetheless Pride and Prejudice is a love story. It writes about a man and a woman that fall in love despite their first impressions of each other, as well as the impressions that follow. Their love grows. By having the opening line state that a wealthy man must be looking for a wife, it makes Darcy’s cold attitude to women even more ironic and comical, but it also says that this novel will be about a man, who is wealthy, and who gets married. As well as this example, foreshadowing can also be seen with Mr. Wickham’s appearance as Austen describes him in a way that is “too good to be true” and even Jane, Elizabeth’s older sister, has her doubts about him which are revealed when he goes to sabotage the relationships that Darcy and Elizabeth have been building.
Incongruities and Ambiguities: Deepening the Narrative
Alongside those many stylistic devices, there is also an incongruity as soon as the novel begins. After introducing the man who she hopes one of her daughters will marry, Mrs, Bennet states “My dear Mr, Bennet, how can you be so tiresome?” These statements are an incongruity because she calls him dear, showing that she clearly loves him, but she also calls him tiresome, which opposes her previous statement. There is also the appearance of a contradiction following a few lines after the first sentence of the novel. While speaking to Mr. Bennet. Mrs. Bennet asks him if he would like to hear about the new man who moved into Netherfield Park. She asks in such an eager manner that Mr. Bennet can’t help respond with “You want to tell me, and I have no objection to hearing it,” which contradicts her original statement. Later on in the novel, there is also an ambiguity. On page 80, while speaking of Darcy, Mr. Wickham says, “I have no right to give my opinion, as to his being agreeable or otherwise… I have known him for too long as to be impartial,” which is worded very vaguely and in a mysterious manner. This makes the text unclear and doubtful and is later explained when Mr. Wickham explains that Darcy is very unlikable.
Formality and Sophistication in Language
As has been previously mentioned, this novel is written in a very classical and formal manner. The language is at times hard to decipher, but nonetheless, it is very brainy and intelligent. Her voice and tone are very quick witted and classical, making the text come off as very formal. The entire novel is written in such a romantic and sophisticated manner that colloquialisms are nearly impossible to find, despite the abundance of conversations. Even though there is not much slang within the novel, the characters still talk in a very entertaining manner by including irony, as previously mentioned. In their dialogue. They mock one another and mentally challenge other characters, which makes the whole novel an emotional rollercoaster. Jane Austen’s writing is very impressive because, despite the time difference, many still find this novel pleasant to read. Even as she uses slow placing due to the fact that the novel is very detailed, she still made the novel action-packed. My not describing the reader’s thoughts, she does not pause in the middle of the novel to show character development and instead pushes forward with a new sequence of events. Her writing is incredibly detailed, allowing the reader to understand what the characters are experiencing, but she does not provide such basic detail as exact colors of setting or time frames and allows the reader to interpret her writing in their own way. The only things that are incredibly detailed are the character’s positions and their opinions and dialogues which she uses to reveal more information and force the reader to use their brain to interpret hints as they wish.
Jane Austen is arguably one of the most influential, as well as intelligent and interesting writers of her time, and her works have been passed down for future generations to read. One of her greatest and most known works is Pride and Prejudice, during which she uses an endless amount of stylistic devices to portray her message of how too much pride and prejudice will negatively impact you. Her emotionally vulnerable characters show so much development and their dialogues and conversations with one another are so mentally stimulating that it makes the novel impossible to put down. They use countless amounts of sass and irony as they insult one another and mock each other’s choices, but also as they grow and learn from one another. Alongside irony, Austen’s use of formal language, as well as devices such as ambiguity, contradictions, and incongruities, perspective, pacing, and foreshadowing. As the story progresses, her wittiness only grows and she allows the character’s charms to develop alongside her writing. Though her third-person narration is limited, she does not commit and crucial details and simulation allow her readers to come to form their own conclusions and opinions on her writing style. Her formal style, among other things such as her witty word choice and knowledge of the comedic mockery she includes, and most importantly the way that she allows the reader to actually interpret the novel, despite any previous connotations of the working she uses, make Pride and Prejudice truly, a work of art and an amazing novel.
Many people often judge others before getting to know them, based only on things such as appearance, social class, or rumors spread by others. The novel Pride and Prejudice, written by Jane Austen, is about a dramatic love store centered on that sole idea of preconceived notions. Originally rivals who once hated one another, Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy fall in love with one another and overcome the obstacles of the pride and prejudice they have against one another. The novel, however, writes about so much more than a love story, but also the conquering of a social divide, the importance of family, and the importance of changing oneself to be a better person. Within the novel, Darcy possesses many negative ideas about Elizabeth, thinking her to be of a different social class and his prideful and cocky demeanor leads her to dislike him. Despite this, however, he still finds himself drawn to her wittiness and beauty, which leads to him changing as a person throughout the novel. Similar changes can be seen in Elizabeth as she finds herself falling for a man who’s every quality she dislikes, and she overcomes her own prejudice ideas. Throughout the novel Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy both face internal conflicts, as well as external ones with one another, which aid them in becoming better people and overcoming their own preconceived false notions of one another, making them both dynamic, round characters.
Elizabeth Bennet is a very witty woman who has very strong opinions which she often doesn’t hold back. She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, along with 4 of her other sisters, among which she is the second oldest. Her older sister Jane falls in love with Mr. Bingley, an acquaintance of her own love interest Mr. Darcy. Elizabeth is outgoing and witty, and within the novel, she is a dynamic character due to her change beliefs about Darcy, which leads her to question herself. What that means is that, in the story, as she falls for Darcy, she doubts her own judgment as well as others words as her feelings get the best of her. Though the overcoming of her prejudice ideas is seen only very briefly within the first half of the novel, it is still apparent. Upon first meeting Darcy, Elizabeth was quite insulted by his flashy ways and overall dislikes him as a person. She doesn’t like his blunt manner of speech, nor his rude voice and negative thoughts. Their first interaction a Netherfield with one another did not end off on a good note and was followed by Jane trying to get Elizabeth to calm down and not be angry over the situation. Elizabeth states that she “could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine,” while speaking of Darcy’s manners, or lack thereof, and she implies that his pride and vanity for himself are too much to handle. Later, after she spends more and more time with him, she opens up more with him and allows herself to engage in conversations with him more freely, showing her newfound interest in him. Just as she begins to open up however, his rival Mr. Wickham is introduced in the story. He tells lies to Elizabeth which leads her to hate Darcy again, and Austen greatly portrays her feelings at the time. “What is Mr. Darcy to me,” Elizabeth says, “pray, that I should be afraid of [insulting] him? I sure owe him no such particular civility…” as she describes him to her mother. Following Wickham’s appearance, Elizabeth begins to degrade Darcy and think less of him as a person, as can be seen with the provided quote. In the novel, we can see Elizabeth’s reluctant, but clear allowance to be herself around Darcy, but due to her cleverness and carefulness, she does not allow herself to fall for such a prideful and clearly “bad” man so easily, leading her to face many changes as a person.
Though prideful and cocky, Darcy knows his limits and within the story, he slowly opens up to Elizabeth. Initially introduced and Mr.Bingley's richer, handsomer, and overall better acquaintance. Darcy quickly tarnishes his image with his rude remarks and blunt statements which are outright hurtful to others. Even Miss Bingley, who is supposedly used to his manner of speech, says, “I never heard anything so abominable. How shall we punish him for such a speech,” as she reacts to Darcy’s previous, clearly sarcastic and insulting comment on her confidence and figure, which further demonstrates just how hurtful his words can be. Miss Bingley says that he should be punished for his words because they are the worst thing that she has ever heard, and since she has known Mr. Darcy for a long period of time, she should have been used to his words by now, but they still are very much shocking. Darcy, however, shows no signs of remorse, nor any signs of thinking that anything is wrong with him within the first half of the novel. While speaking of his “ill manners” he states “Where there is a real superiority of mind, pride will always be under good regulation. Here he is stating that in some cases, where someone is clearly smarter and/or deserving of an upper hand there will be room for pride. He is also implying that he falls under that category of people who deserve to be prideful and places above others around him. His mindset of himself does not change within the beginning half of the novel, but his mindset of Elizabeth does. Darcy is very entitled and judgemental of others but he slowly finds himself opening up to Elizabeth as he is attracted to her witty and engaging conversations with him. Though most of the conversations anger or frustrate him, they mentally stimulate him which is what many others are incapable of doing. As evident by his anger when he discovers that Elizabeth has spoken with Mr. Wickham, he clearly begins to care about what Elizabeth thinks of him as a person. There begins to be a small spark of change; a change in which Elizabeth leads to a growth of humility and compassion within him.
Conclusion: The Artistry of Pride and Prejudice
Despite this being a love story between Darcy and Elizabeth, the two are also the main center of conflict in the story. For instance, their bickering and quarrels are signs of how they interact with one another and engage each other. Yes, they fight and have horrible ideas about one another, but there is an undeniable spark between the two. As they fall in love, Darcy is still taking into account his pride and placing himself above Elizabeth financially and socially, despite her high spot in the social hierarchy of the time.