Pride and Prejudice is often regarded as the most successful novel written by Jane Austin, and the most popular among the readers as well. The story is set in the 19th century England and deals with many issues that may seem to be not really relevant for today’s society – such as an entail, an urgency of having daughters married and the importance of a woman’s connections for her reputation and future. The social norms which the characters follow are also out of date from the point of view of the modern readers. However, this novel still remains popular and is read with enthusiasm even nowadays, which means that the plot contains something more than the episodes of life of the landed gentry. One of the reasons for the novel’s popularity is the author’s sense of humor and irony. As one critic said: “Irony is the soul of Jane Austen’s novel”ť (Bhattacharyya, 80). It is a very true statement, for the witty remarks of the main characters make the novel bright and lively, at the same time pointing out the ridiculousness of some acts or thoughts which one may pass unnoticed in everyday life. Another thing that makes the novel so valuable and relevant even for today’s generation is the character traits which are portrayed in the personalities of the main characters of the novel. These character traits do not depend on time or social norms and they can be met in modern life as well which makes the novel really close to readers. The personalities portrayed by Jane Austin in Pride and Prejudice really prove that human nature basically remains the same in all times. This last statement is true as well for the mistakes which people make.
Missis Bennet can hardly boast many virtues. She is portrayed as quite a silly woman, whose ill manners made one of the reasons for Mr. Darcy’s prejudice against Elisabeth’s family. As it seems, her main goal in life is to have her daughters married. She is not a good judge of character and in many ways lives in her own world, often not noticing what is going on in front of her nose. For example, she was so happy to know that her youngest daughter Lydia got married, that she showed no signs of shame or regret, which would have been quite suitable, considering all the circumstances that accompanied that marriage. In fact, she did not even understand that the husband of her daughter, Mister Wickham was a dishonorable man. For Missis Bennet her own interests were above everything, she hardly cared about other peoples’ feelings. She wanted her daughter Elizabeth to marry hypocritical and pretty stupid Mister Collins, without any regard for her daughter’s protests. However, this character trait resulted rather from a sort of silliness, as it was mentioned before. Speaking of Missis Bennet’s personality in general, one can hardly call her evil. After all, she loved her daughters, and all the things she did were made for their sake. Maybe she just did not understand very well, that they could have had their own ideas of what made a person happy. As for the benefit that her portrait can bring to a reader ”“ it shows very well how unpleasantly and silly a person, who tries to achieve some goal by all means and does not pay attention to other people’s feelings or opinions, may look.
As for the head of Bennets’ family, Mister Bennet, this character is probably much more likely to get the reader’s affection than the previous one, at least for his sense of humor which his spouse seems to be completely deprived of. He is well aware of his wife’s silliness and his sense of humor seems rather a sort of psychological defense which helps him to save his nerves while daily facing his wife’s hysterics. He actually finds pleasure teasing his wife. He is much better judge of character and has much more realistic view on life than Missis Bennet. The fact that he understands that not only money or social rank bring happiness and he wishes his daughters to be happy in marriage also does him credit ”“ for he allows Elizabeth to refuse marrying Mister Collins, although according to the customs of the times in which the novel took place, a father could made his daughter marry anyone he would wish, even against her will. However, in spite of all the advantages of his character, Mister Bennet is not without faults as well. His remarks, although clever, sometimes appear to be too cruel and inappropriate. He could have allowed himself to ridicule his wife or his daughters in front of strangers. This portrays a drawback which one may come across quite commonly even nowadays when dealing with people who possess shrewd sense of humor and have high opinion of themselves.Â Joking is a good thing, but when one thinks only of his or her own pleasure from making fun of somebody and does not see or care that the joke humiliates someone else ”“ it rather reminds a form of aggression than a way to make life look easier and nicer.