CliffsNotes on Austen's Pride and Prejudice

CliffsNotes on Austen's Pride and Prejudice

CliffsNotes on Austen's Pride and Prejudice

CliffsNotes on Austen's Pride and Prejudice

Synopsis

The original CliffsNotes study guides offer expert commentary on major themes, plots, characters, literary devices, and historical background. The latest generation of titles in the series also feature glossaries and visual elements that complement the classic, familiar format.

In CliffsNotes on Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen's most popular and well-known work, you'll meet Elizabeth Bennet and her sisters as they navigate the social milieu of provincial 18th-century England. In addition to easy travels through all of the novel's ironic plot twists, you'll get detailed plot summaries and chapter-by-chapter commentaries to show you how Austen's belief in rationalism triumphs in the union of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. You'll also discover

  • Life and background of the author, Jane Austen
  • A character map that graphically illustrates the relationships among the characters
  • Critical essays about women's roles in 19th-century Britain and money
  • A review section that tests your knowledge
  • A Resource Center with books, Web sites, and films for further study

Classic literature or modern modern-day treasure - you'll understand it all with expert information and insight from CliffsNotes study guides.

Excerpt

Jane Austen’s life resembles her novels—at first glance they seem to be composed of a series of quiet, unexceptional events. Such an impression is supported by the comment of her brother, Henry, who wrote after her death that her life was “not by any means a life of event.” Similarly, her nephew James added in a biography published fifty years later that “Of events her life was singularly barren: few changes and no great crisis ever broke the smooth current of its course.” However, just as readers find that the complexity of Austen’s novel lies in its characters and style, those studying Austen herself discover that the events of her life are secondary to her compelling personality, quick wit, and highlydeveloped powers of observation. The fact that Austen’s life lacked the drama that other authors may have experienced in no way detracted from her skill as a writer. In actuality, Austen’s lack of “extraordinary” experiences, as well as of a spouse and children, probably made her writing possible by freeing her time to work on her books. Additionally, because her books were published anonymously, Austen never achieved personal recognition for her works outside of her sphere of family and friends. Such anonymity suited her, for, as literary critic Richard Blythe notes, “literature, not the literary life, was always her intention.”

Formative Years

Born on December 16, 1775, Jane Austen was the seventh of eight children born to George and Cassandra Austen. The family lived in Steventon, a small Hampshire town in south-central England, where her father was a minister. The Austens were a loving, spirited family that read novels together from the local circulating library and put on home theatricals. It was for the family circle that Austen first wrote highspirited satires—some of which later became novels after numerous and careful rewritings.

Out of her seven siblings, Austen was closest to her only sister, Cassandra. From 1783 to 1785, the two girls attended schools in Oxford and Southampton and the Abbey School at Reading. When the Austens could no longer afford the tuition, Jane and Cassandra returned home to read extensively and learn from their family how to speak French and Italian and play the piano. Most accounts agree that the Austen daughters were pretty and enjoyed the slightly limited but interesting round of country parties described in Austen’s novels.

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