Tuesday, October 1, 2019

My glimpses of Jane Austen Essay

Inspite of my acquaintance with the works of many great writers, Austen’s novels have fascinated me much more than the others .I feel greatly elated to note that the great Victorian poet Alfred Lord Tennyson placed both the Giant of English Literature, William Shakespeare and Jane Austen on the same pedestal. What Shakespeare achieved through his 37 plays and 154 sonnets, Austen accomplished with her six novels – Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice and some minor works like Lady Susan, The Watsons – which is highly commendable. Less number of novels she wrote but great was her achievement is what one can say about Jane Austen. What is so special about Austen that she topped the list of writers of her age? What makes her different from her contemporaries ? What are the special features of her novels and what makes them remarkable are some of the general queries . This paper will bring forth some of my view s with special emphasis on her masterpiece Pride and Prejudice. Having been groomed in a scholarly family Austen’s success as a writer may not seem phenomenal . Many may label Austen’s achievement as mere luck or good fortune .But there is much that contributes to the prodigious personality of the writer . Unlike her predecessors or contemporaries who tried their hand in various forms of literature it is noteworthy that Austen prospered through the sole literary form – the novel .As one browses through her six novels one will definitely note some striking aspects which are persistent in all of them. Austen might have chosen for her subject the restricted social life she had and thus all the six novels share similar features. Yet never do the novels cause boredom and each one of them is interesting in its own way .In fact she has a tremendous capacity to sustain the interest of the reader from the beginning till the end. Apropos the less number of novels she wrote, it is more of a question of quality vs quantity. SOME ASPECTS OF HER NOVELS * Austen is the exponent of the social life of the sophisticated society of her age. Her novels chiefly depict the social life of the early decades of nineteenth century. * Austen wrote essentially domestic fiction. Hence domestic affairs form the heart and soul of her novels. * Women occupy a very important position in her novels . Austen’s novels are famous for their vivacious heroines who gain more prominence than the heroes .She lays bare before us the feminine psyche with great precision. * The themes of love ,courtship, marriage , elopement, and love for property keep recurring. Ballrooms paved the way for courtship. Matchmaking was the birth right of every mother. Falling in love was considered a gateway to marriage. Attachment was essentially artificial, bound by selfish motives. Only males inherited property and so women had to marry to gain financial security. In a family where there was no male to inherit ,the estate was to be transferred to the lady’s husband . A man was judged only through his social status. Thus a man lacking fortune always preferred to marry a lady with good fortune. These are some of the ideas, which form the backbone for Austen’s novels. * Austen’s style is simple and lucid, but appeals to the intellect. Henry Austen in his Biographical Notice wrote † Everything came finished from her pen : for on all subjects she had ideas as clear as her expressions were well chosen â€Å" * As said earlier Austen dealt with similar subjects in her novels but had individualistic approach towards each of them. She made use of embellishments such as wit, humour and irony which give her novels a brilliant effect. * Austen aimed at perfect finish as far as characterization was concerned . While pointing at the meritorious qualities of her protagonists Austen doesn’t fail to expose the follies of the men and women who posed to belong to the elegant class of the society . She artistically handled the affectation and hypocrisy of the upper class . People faced problems due to their own shortcomings. * Another outstanding aspect of her novels is the opening lines which set the tone 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 -The opening line of Pride and Prejudice hints the witty and ironic tone of the novel. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE Pride and Prejudice is Austen’s best loved book, as she claimed it to be brilliant and light. The novel is at once satirical , witty , ironical and humorous .It was originally titled â€Å"First Impressions† for the novel centers around the impressions of the people about each other at their first meeting which turn out to be wrong and superficial . However Austen later chose the title Pride and Prejudice, more appropriate, for the novel also deals with the consequence of the character’s impressions, that is their pride or prejudice. Though Austen wrote five other good novels, this particular one is considered her chef d’oeuvre. The novel gained heights because it penetrates deep into the human mind. All the characters in the novel are above ground and their prototypes can even be found in the contemporary society . Austen’s skilful handling of the character sketches alone makes it an extraordinary work of art. MY NOTES ON PRIDE AND PREJUDICE In my opinion Austen’s genius lies in her endeavour to infuse the principles of life in her novels. Her novels overcome the barriers of time, tradition and culture. Subjects relating to real life appeal every one of us, for we identify ourselves with the characters and the happenings in the novel. Pride and Prejudice is primarily based on human motives and the conflicts involved in human life. As I turn the pages of the novel everything appears real to me. There is nothing illusory or melodramatic .The characters of the novel seem to be my acquaintances in life. It is a marvel that Austen at the age of twenty-one mirrored with exactness the philosophy of life, seeking refuge in common themes like love and marriage. This sole novel is an evidence for Austen’s fully developed intellect and her matured personality. Human tendency is such that we initiate trouble and end solving it ourselves. Attitude plays an indispensable role in life. Negative and positive attitudes bring results accordingly. Reversal of wrong attitudes and visualization of things in the correct perspective alone pave way for a happy living. This forms the basis of the novel. Attitudes precede outcomes. Elizabeth dislikes Darcy in their first meeting itself. She is prejudiced against him for his pride. Above all Elizabeth’s aversion is due to a personal rift for she says, † I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine † and this attitude of hers prevents her from comprehending Darcy’s true nature. This is very common in life. We hate people and deny acknowledging their good qualities just because they offend us in one way or the other. Elizabeth’s bad opinion about Darcy creates such circumstances that she is always against him until she reverses her attitude. When Elizabeth changes her mind, Darcy also transforms which does her good. As Elizabeth notes, Darcy is very proud of his wealth, status and everything else .His money made him look good. But his pride swallowed his good qualities. Darcy mingles only with inferior people to proclaim his superiority. That’s why he chooses Elizabeth, who is beneath him as his prospective wife and not the rich, beautiful Miss Bingley. However Darcy loves Elizabeth only for her personality. His snobbish attitude creates trouble for him. The moment he realizes his mistake and stoops to conquer his lover everything turns alright. Mrs. Bennet is another such character whose attitude plays an important role in her life. Mrs. Bennet’s desire to get her five daughters married is nothing wrong. Every mother has the wish to see her daughter well settled in life. But Mrs. Bennet’s approach and attitude turns things wrong for her. She devises cheap plans to procure husbands for her daughters. While machinating to bring Jane and Bingley together, she forces Jane to go on a horse on a rainy day (when the carriage is available) to Mr. Bingley’s house so that she may get wet, fall ill and stay with the Bingleys for a couple of days. Mrs. Bennet thought that she was creating an opportunity for Jane but it results in the Bingley sisters thinking low of her family. Though they like Jane they reject her because of her mother’s uncouth behaviour . Mrs. Bennet foils her own daughter’s prospects of getting married because of her thoughtlessness. Hoping to win the army officers for her daughters, Mrs. Bennet gives Lydia and Kitty too much freedom. This results in Lydia running away with the rogue called Wickham .It is not Lydia’s elopement, which hurts Mrs. Bennet but the consequences. Mrs. Bennet finds Lydia’s running away distressing but her marriage pleasing. She hardly realizes that Lydia is her parallel and she has a share in her daughter’s shameless conduct. Never does she accept her follies unlike her husband. On the other hand she blames others unnecessarily. Finally Mrs. Bennet gets three of her daughters married which may be due to her persistent attempts. Manner and behavior is something purely external of an individual. It is attitude, which counts as far as moulding of one’s character is concerned, is what I feel is the message conveyed by Austen in her novel.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.