Irony Used In Austen's Pride And Prejudice

1220 words - 5 pages

Jane Austen combines the theme of irony with satire and drama in Pride and Prejudice to emphasize the overall basic plot of the story. Essentially, the positions and stances the characters hold on the issues on family, marriage, and love, change throughout the book, differing from the previous expectations seen at the beginning of the novel for each individual character. A great example of this is the position that Mr. Bennet holds on the idea of a happy marriage at the beginning of the novel, and then at the end, after many relationships developed, how everything ironically turns out. Austen wittily uses the opening line of the novel: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife” (Austen 3), to foreshadow the desires of proud and prejudiced characters in the first volume, and how they evolve to be less conceited and more appreciative in the second.
Throughout the first half of the book, most of the characters are only beginning to be explored and the Pride and Prejudice part of the novel is revealed through two opposing characters who ironically start falling in love as the story progresses. But before this, a significant passage is to be acknowledged because it reinforces the idea of what an ideal marriage should be and demonstrates the ideology of wealth and class. In the very first page of the novel, after the opening line, Mrs. Bennet converses with her husband and speaks about a rich man entering town, claiming he would be a great candidate for one of their daughters because of his fortune: “Oh! single, my dear, to be sure! A single man of large fortune; four or five thousand pounds a year. What a fine thing for our girls!” (3). Indifferently, Mr. Bennet responds “How so? How can it affect them?” which reveals Mr. Bennet’s sarcastic and satirical humor that upsets Mrs. Bennet, whose dramatic character is not ironic in the least, but is quite ridiculous.
The combination of the diverse lovers, poses a question as to why they are even with each other? Ironically, it is revealed that Mr. Bennet only married her for her looks rather than her personality, which is why he tends to strongly advise his daughters that to whom they marry, they must be happy with that person: “Lizzy, I know you could be neither happy nor respectable unless you truly esteemed your husband/ My child, let me not have the grief of seeing you unable to respect your partner in life” (273).
Austen uses dramatic irony in the discovery of the deceitful Mr. Wickham which leads to the sparking romance between Elizabeth and Darcy, and then the surprising elopement of Lydia Bennet and Wickham. Wickham is seen as the handsome, charming, and innocent man who joins the militia and is admired by many young women in the first volume. Darcy, on the other hand, is portrayed as the evil, heartless enemy of Wickham, who took the money out of the will of his father, Darcy Senior, which was meant for Wickham. Wickham...

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