Pride and Prejudice

An analysis of different critiques of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

This paper discusses how since its publication in 1813, literary critics have praised Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”. It reviews two of these critiques, one being Austin’s narrow artistry in David Monaghan’s essay, “Pride and Prejudice: Structure and Social Vision” which states that Austin’s work is that of a well made structure which is meant to convey nothing more than the courtship ritual of Regency England. The other is the varying interpretation as represented in an introductory essay to the novel written by Tony Tanner for the Greenwich House Classics edition which admits that it is timeless and unlimited in its presentation of astute themes and truths that stand the test of time.
Pride and Prejudice, is certainly a book structured around a limited social vision as Monaghan demonstrates. Yet, as Tanner points out, this book is about something more timeless than the search for a profitable marriage partner in the early nineteenth century. It is about the search for self, a search that is not only timeless, but one that can take place in any setting small or great. Austen, through her ironical tone, can be interpreted as saying that no part of society is too small to reveal the whole. Thus, even though the novel unmistakably reflects a certain kind of society at a certain historical moment, there is also an element of timelessness (Tanner 397). In offering a satiric study of a class-conscious society in 18th-century England, and centering on the romantic love story of Elizabeth and Darcy, this novel does exemplify the narrow range of Jane Austen’s work.