Irony In P&p

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade August 2001

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A consistent and thought provoking novel, Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" combines irony and wit to provide audiences with a comedic view of human complexity. The first paragraph in this novel consists only of a single sentence, but in the few words used, Austen is able to present a seemly strong and confident statement, only to use clever dialog and description to reveal its irony as the novel unfolds. Austen's use of irony allows for insightful glances at character development, revealing faults in the characters, while also making bitter, yet concise observations. The opening paragraphs of this novel are significant in setting up common themes that follow throughout the story. The question of truth and reality, are closely examined through irony right from the beginning. Where irony is present, the emphasis of it is soon to follow. Where there are minor placements of ironic events, comments and situations, ultimately, the novel is consistent as a whole, because the first paragraph provides an overview of the greatest irony that flows throughout the story.

The first paragraph of the novel is important, because not only is it filled with irony, it also brings up an interesting idea of what is true in this story, and what the truth really means. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. (Austen. Page 1) This passage soon proves to be false as the novel progresses, but Mrs. Bennet seems to genuinely believe it to be true. Although Mrs. Bennet believes that a man of substantial fortune is indeed in search of a wife, she contradicts herself by taking initiative in taking the first steps in urging her daughters to present themselves before Mr. Bingley. She is sure that Mr. Bingley is in search for a wife, but ultimately Mrs. Bennet is seeking financial and social stability for her own daughters and family. A single man of good fortune; four or five thousand a year. What a fine thing for our girls. (Austen. Page 1) The quotation embeds Mrs. Bennet's philosophy, and also determines her goal in marry off her daughters. What is true in this story is not always represented by what is said by the characters, but revealed in the ironic context embedded by the author.