The Subtle Humor Of "Pride And Prejudice", By Jane Austen

1339 words - 6 pages

Of all the novels that Jane Austen has written, critics consider Pride and Prejudice to bethe most comical. Humor can be found everywhere in the book; in it's character descriptions,imagery, but mostly in it's conversations between characters. Her novels were not only her wayof entertaining people but it was also a way to express her opinions and views on whatsurrounded her and affected her. Her novels were like editorials. Austen uses a variety ofcomic techniques to express her own view on characters, both in her book and in her societythat she lived in. We, the readers are often the object of her ridicule, and Austen makes thereaders view themselves in a way which makes it easy for the ...view middle of the document...

Such exaggeration works only when you place thembesides another character who seems very real. Mrs. Bennet is placed besides her husband tomake her look all the more ridiculous and Mr. Collins, when placed especially by Elizabeth,seems to be unbelievable at times. His proposal to Elizabeth would not be as humorous withoutEliza's reaction and response to him. Therefore, caricature, the exaggeration of character is anessential tool to Austen as means of portraying irony in the novel.Irony is an excellent way for authors to combine wit and drama at the same time. Itworks well in many parts of Pride and Prejudice. Irony can be found in the gradual revelation ofDarcy and Elizabeth's feelings for each other. It provides humor for the readers, yet at the sametime, it revolves around the basic plot of the story. It is a great balance between ironic dialogueand movement towards the scenes in the climax of the novel, when the relationship is developed.Another great example of her ironic wit can be found in the first chapter of the novel, when Mrs.Bennet and Mr. Bennet discuss the new tenant of Netherfield Park, Mr. Bingley. Everysentence of that conversation can come back to the opening line of the novel: 'It is a truthuniversally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want ofa wife.' (p.1) Now for this sentence, Mrs. Bennet begins by giving one definition of 'universally',while Mr. Bennet gives another.'Is he married or single?''Oh! single, my dear, to be sure! A single man of large fortune of four or five thousand ayear. What a fine thing for our girls!''How so? how can it affect them?''My dear Mr. Bennet,' replied his wife, 'how can you be so tiresome! You must knowthat I am thinking of his marrying one of them.''Is that his design in settling here?''Design! nonsense, how can you talk so!' (p.2)Mr.Bennet's conversation is quite ironic and very satirical, because of his extremepoliteness and playful innocence, which in result, upset Mrs. Bennet. That provides humor forthe reader as a result of her dramatic character. Mrs. Bennet's character is not ironic in theleast, but it is the blending of both characters that bring about the irony. Such foils points out tothe readers the ridiculousness of human...

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