We met again last 17h of March and on this occasion our reading book was Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. We knew the book was nice and the story worth our comments, so we decided to have the same novel for the two next sessions as we considered there was short time for such an interesting and fascinating novel.
Before we focus our attention in the story some comments should be stated to understand the novel.
Jane Austen was born in 1775 a year before the American Declaration of independence and in 1789 started the French Revolution. These two important events brought new and revolutionary ideas which overspread Europe and which Austen witnessed and reflected in her novels. From 1793 to 1815 England was at war with France in the Napoleonic wars, which brought economical instability and made people take refuge in land. This is perfectly seen in her books as most of them describe these landowners and their everyday live in such a way no other English writer had ever done before. The war is present in Pride and Prejudice as she describes the militia in Brighton and being one of her character an officer (Mr Wickhan).
As we see in the novel, questions of land ownership and inheritance are closely interlinked with courtship and marriage. In the late eighteenth century, English conceptions of family and the role of women began to change, as British culture became increasingly focused on the accumulation and concentration of wealth within the family. One way for families to rapidly accumulate capital was through advantageous marriages. As a result, the position of daughters within the family changed, as they became the means through which a family could attain greater wealth. Familial aspirations, coupled with women’s increased dependence on marriage for financial survival, made courtship a central focus of women’s lives.
Pride and Prejudice:
Mrs and Mr Bennet from Longbourn have a problem according to the traditional law which ruled inheritance in those days, they have five daughters and none can inherit their state. Following the strong tradition Mrs Bennet had to find husbands for their daughters to avoid the total ruin of the family. Balls are organised in the vicinity for young girls and boys to meet and arrange marriages. In one of these balls we meet Mr Bingley and his friend Mr Darcy, both rich, young and handsome. Since the very beginning Jane (Mrs and Mr Benne’s elder daughter) is Mr Bingley’s favourite in the dance. Lizzy ( Mr and Mrs Bennet’s second daughter) and Mr Darcy don’t dance together and we know Lizzy considers Darcy Arrogant and proud.
Once the first approach is made Mrs Bennet hopes to see her Daughter Jane married with Bingley and this is her main objective. For Lizzy she has got a new candidate, Mr Collins, her husband’s nephew who she abhors, but who is going to be Longbourn landlord after her husband’s death. Lizzy can’t stand him and rejects his proposal. At the same time Jane gets a letter from Bingley’s sister saying they all have gone to London. From this point on the story goes on until Jane and Elizabeth can find suitable husbands and secure a profitable future. As we can imagine Mr Bingley and Mr Darcy will be the ideal husbands not after clearing some misunderstanding on both sides.