Most good stories start with a fundamental list of ingredients: the initial situation, conflict, complication, climax, suspense, denouement, and conclusion. Great writers sometimes shake up the recipe and add some spice. Initial Situation
We meet the Bennet family: five single daughters with no money. Then a young, rich, single man moves into the neighborhood. This is clearly an initial situation because there's way too much instability in this system. Pushy mother? Poor, single daughters? One rich, single man? Anyone else predict that the pushy mother is going to be pushing her daughters on the single man?
Bingley starts falling for Jane, but his sisters and friend don't approve. An obstacle in the path of true love and familial happiness! Yes, this is conflict. To make matters worse, Darcy has developed a crush on Jane's sister Elizabeth, and all the objections he has to Bingley marrying Jane (her lower class, crazy family) also apply to the prospect of him marrying Elizabeth.
Bingley's sisters and Darcy succeed in dissuading Bingley from marrying Jane; Darcy sinks lower and lower in Elizabeth's estimation. Tough. Our lovers seem as far away from each other as possible: Bingley's sisters effectively quarantine him from seeing Jane, and Wickham drips (figuratively) poison into Elizabeth's ear about Darcy's character. While before Elizabeth simply disliked him, she now feels full-on disgust.
Mr. Darcy shows his heart; Elizabeth learns her errors in judgment. All the festering feelings come to a head here. Darcy finally tells Elizabeth how he feels, saying he can repress his emotions no longer, and Elizabeth counters with a, "if you were the last man alive, I still wouldn't marry you." OK, those weren't her exact words, but they were pretty close. She finally vents all her anger over what Mr. Darcy has done to Jane and to Mr. Wickham.
But! That's not the end of the climax! Darcy gives Elizabeth a letter that exonerates him from all the charges she leveled against him. Both characters question their identities. As for Elizabeth, who prides herself on being a great judge of character, she learns that people's exterior masks can fool her. This is the climax of the novel because the greatest attitude shifts come here. It's all smoother sailing from here on out for our two main characters.
Lydia runs off with Wickham, potentially ruining the Bennet family name forever. If Lydia goes off with Wickham to "live in sin," it will destroy any chance at happiness for Elizabeth and Jane. No respectable man will marry a woman who has a fallen sister. Don't know about you, but we're biting our nails.
Mr. Bingley proposes to Jane; Mr. Darcy proposes to Elizabeth Mr. Darcy uses money to force Wickham to marry Lydia. The Bennet family is saved. Whew. Here's the ending we've been waiting for – couples reunited, misunderstandings cleared up, in-laws chucked out the window…
The happily ever after – the last chapter serves as a bit of an epilogue. Our two favorite married couples are doing well, but Lydia and Wickham's marriage unravels and they become broke. Charles and Jane Bingley move out of Netherfield after a year because they can't stand Mrs. Bennet, Mary becomes less sanctimonious, and Kitty blossoms under the guidance of her two oldest sisters. Oh, right. Jane moves to an estate practically next door to Pemberley. That all sounds quite peachy
Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen
The following entry presents criticism of Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice. See also, Jane Austen Criticism, Northanger Abbey Criticism, and Mansfield Park Criticism.
One of the world's most popular novels, Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice has delighted readers since its publication with the story of the witty Elizabeth Bennet and her relationship with the aristocrat...