Examine the treatment of irony in Pride and Prejudice.

Essay by kelleeUniversity, Bachelor'sB-, January 2005

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Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice (1813) is a novel containing heavy ironies and it is peppered with ideological arguments. In its moral concerns, Pride and Prejudice has many affinities with 18th century literature, which valued reason, order and common sense, and liked to laugh at the folly of those who did not aspire to these values. However in this novel Austen also explores the ironies of society and the fickleness of public opinion, and she accomplishes this by using an ironic narrator, and ironic characters. In doing this she allows her characters to say one thing whilst meaning another as well as allowing them to stand away from situations to offer judgement on them. Austen allows us to see things from several points of view. However this means as readers we should be on our guard to pick up the ironies, or else we may miss the point, and at times we need to know something that lies outside the immediate sentence in order to understand what is meant.

Austen also allows for dramatic irony in her novel, giving the reader and indeed other characters insight into the future whilst others are left in the dark.

The irony in Pride and Prejudice becomes apparent from as early as the first page. Austen begins the novel with what seems to be aphorism: that it is a universal truth that 'a single man in possession of good fortune must be want of a wife' and here she expresses her first ironic statement on the theme of the novel. The universal truth, 'fortune and wife' is reduced to the principles of a neighbourhood and their wish for their daughters to wed a wealthy man.

Another irony on the theme of the novel can be seen in Mrs Bennet's plan to send her daughter...