'Effectiveness of the opening chapters of Pride and Prejudice' essay

This is the analysis of the first few chapters of pride and prejudice.

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Eleanor Marshall
Effectiveness of opening chapters of Pride and Prejudice
In this essay I will be exploring the effectiveness of the opening chapters of Pride and
Prejudice. I will consider the way the narrator's voice is established and the main
themes introduced. I will also consider whether is inspires the reader to continue
with the text.
The first chapter introduces us to Mr and Mrs Bennet. It is primarily speech based
with blocks of narrative at the beginning and end of the chapter. Within these blocks
of narrative the tone of the narrator becomes clear immediately. `It is a truth
universally acknowledged' emits a certain hint of sarcasm; the reader can almost hear
the narrators tone. It then goes on to highlight some of the main themes that will
be portrayed in the book. First, there is the `single man in possession of a good
fortune'; this explicitly shows the reader that the book's themes will include wealth.
It then says `must be in want of a wife', so relationships will also factor into the
book. This hints that the novel will be of a dramatic or romantic nature.
The use of the word `must' in this context also acts to strengthen the idea of the
sarcastic tone used by the narrator. Also, the immediate mention of the themes
suggests a straight to the point character, which is again re-visited at the end of the
chapter, with the completely explicit character descriptions the narrator gives us of
Mr and Mrs Bennet, although this could be seen as patronising to the reader. Does
this narrator presume that we are incapable of establishing a characters personality
This idea of relationships and wealth is strongly fortified by Mr and Mrs Bennet's
following conversation. `Netherfield is taken by a young man of large fortune' Is the
first indication of the theme of wealth, with many more examples throughout the
chapter, for instance `chaise and four', `some of his servants' and `four or five
thousand a year'. This is then directly linked to the marriage theme, with Mrs Bennet
announcing `What a fine thing for our girls!'. There is also a hint at the patriarchal
nature of society of the times when Mrs Bennet says `It is very likely he may fall in
love with one of them'. There is no mention that the girls may fall in love with Mr
Bingley, only the other way around. This acts as a reminder of the wealth theme,
women did not marry for love, they married for money.
In the first chapter the reader can not only begin to form an opinion on the voice of
the narrator, but of Mr and Mrs Bennet as well. The structure of the chapter tells us
as much about the characters as what they are actually saying. Mrs Bennet
dominates the conversation, with 90% of the speech belonging to her, while Mr
Bennet only speaks to his wife when he absolutely needs to. We can also deduce
their personality from what they say, and how they say it. Mrs Bennet uses a lot of
stressed words, for example `I have had my share of beauty' or `Impossible for us to
visit him'. This allows the reader to almost hear the fluctuation and drama in the tone
of her speaking. In contrast Mr Bennet's speech, the little of it there is, seems calm,
sometimes even mocking of his wife. The line `How so? How can it affect them?'

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Eleanor Marshall
gives the reader this impression. Surely he must know what his wife means, so would
therefore seem to be acting oblivious simply to `vex' her.
But of course, the most obvious way for a reader to discern the traits and quirks of
these odd characters, is by perusing the last 8 lines of the chapter. The narrator
clearly lays out for us their personalities, from explaining Mr Bennet's `sarcastic
humour' to telling us of Mrs Bennet's `uncertain temper'.…read more

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Eleanor Marshall
Bingley!'. While Mr Bennet revels in the surprise of his practical joke, `The
astonishment of the ladies was just what he wished...' and particularly enjoys the
`vexing' of Mrs Bennet `...Mrs Bennet perhaps surpassing the rest'.
Chapter two allows the reader to have a glimpse at the family dynamics of the
Bennets. The dramatic irony at the begginging of the chapter allow for a quite light
hearted, almost humorous read.…read more

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Eleanor Marshall
In the end, it depends on the person reading it. Interpretations are different for each
person. What may be light-hearted and harmless for one person, may be slow paced
and dull for another. The conventions of a good opener are all included, it simply
depends on the perception of the individual.…read more


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