Characters Caricatures: the Power of Laughter in Pride and Prejudice

Topics: Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen, Fitzwilliam Darcy Pages: 12 (2429 words) Published: November 16, 2012
Literatura del Romanticisme Anglès

Characters Caricatures: The Power of Laughter in Pride and Prejudice

Michela Pantano

Characters Caricatures: The Power of Laughter in Pride and Prejudice

Author: Michela Pantano
Date: 03/04/2012

Regency England was characterized by a series of strict social laws. One of the major restrain regarded women

position during that period. In fact, women were seen as inferior beings compared to men, and all they had to

care about was to find a respectable and well-off man to marry with, and take care of children.

However, this concept does not regard only Regency period, but also during Romantic and Victorian England it

was still alive. Many writers wrote about women condition during this long period, such as Anne Brontë in The

Tenant of Wildfell Hall, in which she claims about the position of women artists and the mistreatment of wives.

Nonetheless, in Pride and Prejudice, the author Jane Austen, perfectly succeeds in presenting to readers all these

social restrains that were alive at that time by adopting a cleaver and subtle strategy in order to criticize them. In

fact, her tactic was to create exaggerated characters, that are seen as caricatures, to make readers laugh at them

and, consequently, understand and reject the injustices of her society. Jane Austen's objective, in Pride and

Prejudice, is to mock male position and the ideal concept of women in society. Every character, in fact, has been

carefully created with a specific aim, and represents one aspect of Regency England.

Pride and Prejudice is strongly characterized by the presence of humor that makes readers focus in the absurdity

of the politics of that time. Thus, the aim of this paper is to study and illustrate how Jane Austen plays with

humor through characters, by assigning them a specific function in the novel. Her humor goes through different

topics during the all novel, such as the politics of marriage, the right of education and the inferior position of

women. The power of laughter is so strong in the novel that we can classify Pride and Prejudice as a comic novel,

because without humor readers would not perceive the wrongness of society and Jane Austen's position about it.

During this paper I will analyze those characters that are painted as caricatures, in order to understand the reason

why the author wanted to show and emphasize their comic sides, and all the politics that are mocked by them.

Through the very heroine of the novel, Elizabeth Bennet, an extremely determined young woman with an innate

sense of humor, we face with all those characters and situations, being her the speaking voice of the author.

Jane Austen belonged to the Regency Era, a period strongly characterized by a series of social and moral

restrictions. But since always, when we use the word “restriction” referring to a society, “contradiction” is the

following word that rises in our minds. In fact, during the end of the Romantic period, and the beginning of

Victorian Era, we find many authors claiming moral and social values, showing readers, how blind

and contradictory, people can turn if living in a very strict society. As a matter of fact, many topics were faced in

literature, such as prostitution, women condition, children condition, the politics of marriage and many others.

This very big affluence of criticized topics, is the proof of the strong and living contradiction that turned around

Regency England.

In the case of Pride and Prejudice, the main criticized topics regard women condition and the absurd

politics of marriage. Marriage, in fact, was a very serious business, that created a

tremendous preoccupation, because from it depended the destiny and reputation of middle and upper

class families. In this novel, Jane Austen, clearly criticized also the role of women in society, by creating the...
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