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September 20, 2017

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Jane Austen: Bits to Bytes

Narrative form, style, and language

Sept 26 Class 6 -- Pride and Prejudice

    Austen: Pride and Prejudice (entire)

    Critical Reading: Gottlieb presentation: "Charlotte and Elizabeth: Multiple Modernities in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice," by Melina Moe (Canvas)
    Digital Project: Austen Said

DUE Post #4

    Introduce Pride and Prejudice

    Return to sentence style

    Discuss perception, epistemology in the narrative

    Discuss article by Moe

    Practice use tools in Austen Said

More on sentence style

Although we began to discuss the sentence style and point of view in Austen's prose, we need to return for a closer examination of the actual sentence. I've created a short worksheet comparing her style with Samuel Johnson's, in part because he was a highly regarded prose stylist of the late eighteenth century, and in part because it should be fairly easy to see how her work compares. Please look that over and be prepared to discuss in class.

Also, I would like for you to consider analyzing prose in the same way we analyze poetry. Begin with some of the characteristics identified on the sentence-style document (diction, compression vs expansion, symmetry, balance, parallelism). Read the sentences out loud to get a sense of their rhythm and tempo. Prose has a rhythm, though not technically a line-length. Can you identify the meter of Austen's prose? If you cannot imagine how this might sound, check out a movie clip such as this from Ang Lee's Sense and Sensibility 1995.

Pride and Prejudice

In an oft quoted phrase that Jane Austen wrote to her sister, the author describes Pride and Prejudice as "rather too light, and bright, and sparkling." If this is true, what is the source of the novel's effervescence?

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." In one of the most famous opening lines of any novel, whose perspective does this represent? What does it announce as the novel's main themes?

In case you missed it, the notion of "truth," is just as important here as any of the other major terms....

Understanding: 1. the mental quality, act or state of a person who understands; comprehension, knowledge, discernent, sympathetic awareness. 2. the power or ability to think, learn, judge; intelligence and sense

Austen places Elizabeth Bennet in context with a variety of foils whose understanding is wanting. Evaluate the mental capacities of the Bennet family. Select passages to support the narrative development of Elizabeth's superior understanding.

By the end of volume one, Elizabeth questions her own judgment: "The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of either merit or sense" (chapter 24).

The action of volume two centers of Darcy's crisis of self-knowledge, which initiates Elizabeth's. Examine the first proposal scene between Darcy and Elizabeth. On what grounds does Elizabeth reject him?

Analyze the letter Elizabeth receives from Darcy and her response. "She grew absolutely ashamed of herself." What happens and why?

Compare Charlotte's view of marriage "Happiness in marriage is a matter of chance," with Elizabeth's view. Why is Collins an appropriate husband for Charlotte but not for Elizabeth?

To what extent is Pride and Prejudice a classic narrative of educating the heroine into a right way of behaving? Who or what is educated in Pride and Prejudice?

Property and Propriety

Property: from the Latin proprietat -- em; n. of quality from proprius -- own or proper
    1: the condition of being owned by a person or some persons; the right to the possession, use or disposal of anything
    5: an attribute or quality belonging to a thing or a person
    7: the quality of being proper or suitable; aptness, fitness; the proper use or sense of words (see PROPRIETY)

Propriety: from the Latin proprietat -- em; see PROPERTY
    1: the right to possession or ownership
    2: something owned a possession
    3: proper or particular character, own nature or disposition, idiosyncrasy; sometimes proper state or condition
    4: quality or attribute, esp. an essential or distinctive quality
    5: special character of language, diction, idiom -- usually proper
    6: fitness, appropriateness, aptitude, suitability; appropriateness to the circumstances or conditions, conformity with requirement, rule or principle, rightness, correctness, justness, accuracy

Concepts of propriety have their roots in property. Evaluate what this means and how it is developed in the novel.

According to Tony Tanner, landed classes wanted to instill social cohesiveness through a rigid system of behavior or propriety. Behavior ensures the proper ownership of property.

"It has been coming on so gradually, that I hardly know when it began. But I believe I must date it from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley." Keeping in mind Austen's artful tones and subltety, how are we to understand the transformation that happens when Elizabeth see Pemberley?

What causes the "gulf impassable" after Lydia elopes with Wickham?

In one of the most energetic exchanges in the novel, Elizabeth counters Lady Catherine's demands that she never become engaged to Darcy. Evaluate the exchange. How do their values differ?

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