posted by Joe on .
This is my essay. I was wondering, if its not asking to much if you could edit it for me? or just tell me whats wrong with it?
In Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen tries to change the views of the Regency Era on marriage, class, and reputation through the use of satire. During the regency era, there was a “need for marriage” (Statsio and Duncan, 140). Marriage was of great importance, especially to women. Through Mrs. Bennet, Austen reveals the humour in the female obsession with marriage in the Regency Era. Mrs. Bennett is a mother of five daughters whose only goal in life is to see all her daughters married well. In this period, there was a “negative attitude towards spinsterhood” (Statsio and Duncan, 140). Jane Austen ridicules how marriage, even to the most foolish of men, was considered “preferable to being single” (Statsio and Duncan, 140). A woman’s job was to get married, preferably to a man of a higher social standing. Social standing and class were particularly important in the regency era. If one had “poor social connections” (Statsio and Duncan, 140) they were looked down upon by the upper classes. Austen uses her characters and her satire to show that the upper class, contrary to belief, is not always superior to the others. Likewise, a tarnished reputation was also looked down upon. During the regency era, a stained reputation could destroy a family. One could permanently damage the “chances [of] marriage” (Ward, 18) of the members of their family. Again, by the use of her satire Austen demonstrates how people are often given dishonourable reputations for conditions beyond their control. Without the understanding of how the satire of reputation, marriage, and class work to invoke change in the Regency Era one cannot fully comprehend the art of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
Marriage for woman in the Regency Era was essential. A beneficial marriage could gain a woman financial security, while a disadvantageous marriage would amount to instability for the rest of her life. For this reason many women in the Regency Era were obsessed with not just marriage, but marriage into wealthy families. Jane Austen tries to change the female obsession with marriage through her lampoon. She uses Mr. and Mrs. Bennet to exemplify how marriage for money can end badly for both parties. Mr. Bennet “captivated by youth and beauty...had married a woman [with] a weak understanding and illiberal mind” (Austen, 159). Mrs. Bennet’s intolerance had put an end to any real love and respect that Mr. Bennet had for her. Due to the imprudent marriage, Mr. Bennet had turned to his books and the “ignorance and folly” (Austen, 159) of Mrs. Bennet for amusement. Mrs.Bennet, a small-minded woman, can not come to understand why her husband teases her so. Mr. Bennet’s lack of love and respect for Mrs. Bennet results in the “subsequent emotional and patriarchal neglect of his daughters” (Statsio and Duncan, 140). He chooses to through his wit and humour point out the faults of his daughters, but he does not act to correct them. The lack of “parental investment” (Statsio and Duncan, 134) from Mr. Bennet leads to the reckless marriage of Lydia Bennet and Mr. Wickham. Lydia’s childish view on life, and the female obsession with marriage, which Austen often mocks, persuades her to marry Mr. Wickham, who behind the “façade of fine manners” (Yoder, 609) is a reputed scoundrel. Another example of a marriage much ridiculed by Jane Austen is the marriage between Mr. Collins and Charlotte Lucus. Charlotte Lucus worried about becoming an old maid and, to avoid scorn of society, marries Mr. Collins, an ill-mannered fool, for his money. Austen questions how Charlotte “will be happy in the lot she [has] chosen” (Austen, 87). Elizabeth also disagrees with Charlotte marrying such an ill-mannered man, who only had money to offer her. By using these marriages as mistakes already made, Austen hopes to deter others from making the same mistakes. Through her wit and humour Austen is demanding change in marriage for money and for the simple sake of being married.
Class and social standing were valued highly in the Regency Era. Throughout the period, people were always trying to gain a better social standing. One of the ways to do this was to be born into a wealthy family and the other was to marry into one. For instance, Miss Bingley plans to marry Mr. Darcy not because he will bring her happiness, but because his money will benefit her. However, when Elizabeth arrives Miss Bingley “sees Elizabeth as a rival” (Statsio and Duncan, 139) and tries to influence Mr. Darcy against Elizabeth by stating her faults. Miss Bingley argues that Elizabeth is not as socially accepted as she is and “has nothing, in short, to recommend herself” (Austen, 23). Miss Bingley’s attempts to dissuade the well-bred Mr. Darcy from the middle-class Elizabeth end in vain as Mr. Darcy proposes to Elizabeth. Austen, through Elizabeth, taunts Miss Bingley and her futile attempts for the attentions of Mr. Darcy. She talks of Miss Bingley as being “engrossed by Mr. Darcy (Austen, 23)”. Miss Bingley, in her attempts, embodies the views of high society England on marriage to lower classes. Austen also ridicules Lady Catherine de Bourgh much like Miss Bingley. Lady Catherine is snobbish and thinks highly of herself and her connections. Lady Catherine de Bourgh is much like Miss Bingley. She wants the “distinction of rank preserved (Austen, 110)” and is incensed with the idea that Mr. Darcy could think of marrying Elizabeth with her inferior connections. Lady Catherine also “argues that her daughter is betrothed to Darcy (Statsio and Duncan, 139)”, even though a marriage between the wealthy Mr. Darcy and sickly Miss De Bourgh is not likely to happen. Lady Catherine assumes that Mr. Darcy would not want to risk marrying into a lower class and will be forced to marry Miss De Bourgh. Lady Catherine shows her snobbishness, brought on by the views of her class, by valuing the social status of the family as higher in importance than the contribution of the wealth of Elizabeth’s character to the family. Jane Austen hopes to evoke change through her ridicule of Miss Bingley and Lady Catherine de Bourgh by showing that prejudices about class are shallow and that the power of love can overcome class boundaries. This is evident with Jane and Elizabeth Bennet, who without looking for wealth in a mate find both love and wealth.
My first reading of this essay made me wonder if I read the same book. Ok, I will buy that the style is of Horace, or gentle satire, and social commentary. But the story is of first impressions, prejudice, and pride. Yes, it is woven around marriage, proposals, dance, and social connections. To me, Austen was really using the book as a vehicle for communicating her own distain for aristorcacy, and the need for women to have to marry to have property. But in my own thinking, I wouldn't emphasize the satire...it was there, but ever so gentle...the style was romantic, and the story was a romance, and a young woman by chance and calculation finding her soulmate. That is why the book has stood so firm for years.
Satire is Johnathan Swift, at least to me.
Austen was the greatest of the Romantic period in literature, in my opinion, with her craftness of tale spun into the social complexities of the time, with a heartfelt passion of a young woman fighting circumstances, and winning. I certainly do not think Austen was trying to change the views of the period towards marriage, I think she wanted to tell a tale, with her views woven in.
I am not a good editor of essays, perhaps someone will do that. I would present Pride and Prejudice (or its original title "First Impressions") as a story with commentary on social conventions, and why the story stuck for so long.