Pride And Prejudice By Austen
Pride and Prejudice is one of the most popular novels written by Jane Austen.

This romantic novel, the story of which revolves around relationships and the
difficulties of being in love, was not much of a success in Austen's own time.

However, it has grown in its importance to literary critics and readerships over
the last hundred years. There are many facets to the story that make reading it
not only amusing but also highly interesting. The reader can learn much about
the upper-class society of this age, and also gets an insight to the author's
opinion about this society. Austen presents the high-society of her time from an
observational point of view, ironically describing human behavior. She describes
what she sees and adds her own comments to it in a very light and easy way. She
never seems to be condescending or snubbing in her criticism but applies it in a
playful manner. This playfulness, and her witty, ironic comments on society are
probably the main reasons that make this novel still so enjoyable for readers
today. Some rules and characteristics depicted in the story seem very peculiar
and are hard to conceive by people of our generation. Nevertheless, the
descriptions of the goings-on in that society are so lively and sparkling with
irony that most people cannot help but like the novel. Jane Austen applies irony
on different levels in her novel Pride and Prejudice. She uses various means of
making her opinion on 18th century society known to the reader through her vivid
and ironic descriptions used in the book. To bring this paper into focus, I will
discuss two separate means of applying irony, as pertaining to a select few of
the book's characters. The novel is introduced by an omniscient narrator,
unknown to the reader, who describes and comments on the given situations
throughout the novel. The narrator serves to represent and speak for Jane Austen,
enabling her to aim her criticism not only through the characters, but also in a
more direct fashion. She uses this unspecified person, who is outside of all the
novel's action and gives explanations, as a medium of communication to present
her own opinion in an allusively open way. This narrator is the first means of
making ironic remarks. Through the narrator a certain mood is created that
prevails throughout the novel. The very first sentence of the novel shows this
with the following sentence, "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that
a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife"
(Pride and Prejudice, p. 3). The irony of this statement is the universal
validity with which assumptions are made in that upper-class society. It is
assumed that there is nothing else for a man of high rank to want but a wife to
complete his possessions. Along with his money, land, riches etc. she acts as
nothing more but another piece of property, which was a common attitude in those
days. Austen manages to make the attitude towards matrimony upheld by this upper
class look rather ridiculous and incredible. Another ironic description is
given, for instance, when Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst take care of the sick

Jane, who stays at their house. They present themselves as very affectionate and
caring friends to Jane. However, that does not stop them from talking very bad
about Jane's relations. The real ironic comment is that the narrator lets us
readers know that after those two ladies have finished bad mouthing Jane's
sister Elizabeth and the rest of her family, they return to Jane "(w)ith a
renewal of tenderness" (p. 27). These high-society women are well versed at
putting others down and whimsically, and as they think wittily, insulting the
characters of those who are of a "lower class" - and Austen comments
on it ironically by describing their behavior with irony. Through the narrator,

Austen shows us how fickle this society is; being based on class and rank. The
narrator exposes the vanities and its stupidity rather drastically. The comment
on Aunt Phillips who "would hardly have resented a comparison with the
housekeeper's room" (p. 56) of Rosing's with her own living-room is so
ironically bitter that it even borders on being mean. These are only a few
examples to show how the general ironic mood of the novel is created. The second
means of creating irony in the novel is through the particular use of the
characters involved. Elizabeth Bennet is the main character of the novel and she
happens to be an acute observer, who