Pride and Prejudice: A Mystery Novel

An analysis of the element of mystery in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

This paper reviews Jane Austen’s novel “Pride and Prejudice” with an emphasis on how the element of mystery in it serves to give depth and development to the characters. It examines how the related mysteries of “Pride and Prejudice” are the Wickham-Darcy relationship and the “mystery of character.” It is no mystery from the beginning that Elizabeth Bennet and Darcy are fated to be together, the mystery is their feelings and motivations and their characters, as they evolve and are revealed throughout the novel. It shows how, like many a mystery novelist, Austen leaves ample clues from which the reader could discern that all is not what it seems, which seem obvious only on a second reading.
“There are two central and intertwined mysteries in the novel: the traditional mystery of Wickham’s relationship to Darcy, and the more subtle mystery of Darcy’s (and Elizabeth’s) true character. The author’s treatment of the Wickham mystery is not that of the conventional mystery story, as a modern reader might understand it. The clues Austen gives are not material to the direct verification of one sides or the other’s story, but to the respectability and trustworthiness of Wickham and Darcy. We are not given, for example, accounts of Wickham’s behavior in London while he is pretending to study law. It is only through an understanding of the two men’s characters that we discover the truth of their relationship.”