Pride and Prejudice Essay
My teacher in AP Lit. gave me a 9 on this in-class, 40 minute timed, essay on Pride and Prejudice (graded on the AP rubric). Personally, I thought it was complete and total crap not deserving of a six, but whatever. Here is the prompt and essay, unchanged from how I first wrote it, including spelling errors and all that nice stuff.
Prompt: Many novels and plays that focus upon the marriage of a couple included a second couple that helps to define the central characters. Write a well-centered essay in which you discuss how the secondary couple illuminates the central characters of the work.
Throughout the course of Jane Austen's novel, Pride and Prejudice, numerous couples are formed and presented to the readers. Lydia and Mr. Wickham, in particular act as foils to the main characters, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, and help to emphasize their positive qualities throughout the novel. /* teacher/grader underlined the previous sentance and wrote 'good' */
Elizabeth's maturity and quickness of thought is perhaps best seen when compared to Lydia's brashness and lack of foresight. When comparing the events leading up to Lydia's marriage, to those of Elizabeth, we find that Lydia's is rift with problems and causes a great stresson other people. Althought Elizabeth may have caused some stress on Lady Catherine, she acted maturely and upon her marriage, never flaunted it in front of her sissters. While Lydia may be lively, here manners of cnduct are horrendous when compared to Elizabeth, making Elizabeth look more vivacious, and making Lyida look merely annoying.
The love that Darcy and Elizabeth share is also emphasized through the apparent emotionless marriage of Ludia and Wickham. From Wickham's massive number of debts and his previous attempts to marry Miss King and Miss Darcy for their large dowries, it is clear that Wickham's main goal in marrying Lydia is hopes of money. Lydia in her childish manner, confuses momentary infatuation with love. Comparitevly, Elizabeth and Darcy share a much better relationship. It seems that at only one point in the novel does Elizabeth remark on her marriage to Darcy could be good for financial reasons. While touring Pemberely with her aunt and uncle, she thinks about how all the elegently funished rooms could have been hers. Darcy, it appears, is so smitten with Elizabeth that the concept of marrying to a person of such low social and monetary stature, hardly seems to give him pause. /* here, the grader wrote ''yes'" */
Darcy's thoughtfulness and responsibility is also emphasized through the juxtaposition of Wickham's gambling habbits and debt history. Throughout the novel, Darcy settles Wickham's financial debts twice, once before the novel beings after Wickham had squandered the money left to him by the former Mr. Darcy and again when Wickham married Lydia. Essentially, Mr. Wickham made the the mistakes and created a mess of his affairs, and Mr. Darcy followed behind with cash in hand, fixing and mending debts. It is partly through Wickham's atrocious behaviour that the reader finds Mr. Darcy's manners so agreeable. Indeed, without a Wickham-type figure, it is doubtfull that Elizabeth could have found Darcy to be so appealing. /* here, the teacher/grader wrote "YES!" */
Although thir are other secondary characters throughtout the novel, whom, through their marriages and relationships help to define Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth, none contribute as much as the juxtapositioning of Lydia and Wickham.
/* "Great Job" */
“That is very true, replied Elizabeth, and I could easily forgive his pride, if he has not mortified mine”. (15)
We were told early in the book that Elizabeth strongly dislikes Darcy but this quote reminded me of how humans interact with each other when their feelings are hurt. Reminiscent of conversations when a man gets rejected at a bar by a female, as soon as the female says no to the man he tries to convince himself that he never liked her anyway with remarks like “well I thought you where fat”, or “well your ugly anyways”. It's also juvenile and embarrassing. Darcy's personality never really changes in the book only Elizabeth feelings towards him change. Darcy is prideful and thinks himself above most people, but then so does Elizabeth. She looks down on poor Charlotte who chooses Mr. Collins is a husband because she has to, to avoid starvation. Elizabeth looks down on her family thinking that her mother is beneath her father. I would argue that Elizabeth has more pride than Mr. Darcy does in his little finger. If the book had started out with Mr. Darcy answering Mr. Bingley's statement that the woman at the dance were all beautiful including Elizabeth, I bet her opinion of him would've completely changed. Just like the scorned men in the bars Elizabeth has cut Mr. Darcy down in an effort to save her own pride but in the end she is really just hurt.
“Is not general incivility the very essence of love?”. (122)
This quote really struck a chord with me. I saw Bingley an entirely new light. Mr. Bingley’s entire life is being followed by his two sisters and his brother-in-law. They act like an insulator, his entourage does not allow him to have any true feelings or enjoyment of his life without their approval. That Mr. Bingley was willing to offend people at his own party just to be around Jane, a woman of little importance, is proof of his love to Elizabeth. I had not considered rudeness to be an indicator of love, but the way Elizabeth projects his feelings allows me to understand Mr. Bingley's character better. Mr. Bingley seemed disingenuous and small to me before this quote. Elizabeth has reminded all of us of the expectations of a very wealthy man during this time. Mr. Bingley is expected to do the right thing because his entourage requires a good marriage to propel their standard of living, as well as his own. Making the wrong decisions in marriage affect them, probably more than anybody else. That Mr. Bingley is willing to turn his back on these expectations makes me think more of him and allowed me to see him in a whole new light, worthy of someone like Jane.
“I have heard, indeed, that she is uncommonly improved within this year or two. When I last saw her, she was not very promising. I am very glad you like her. I hope she will turn out well”. (280)
This is my favorite quote from the book. Jane Austen has created a masterpiece beyond parallel with the statement. Austen has showcased exactly who Mr. Wickham is, encapsulated in these words. That Mr. Wickham would have the audacity to speak this way about another human being showcases his lack of morality and arrogance. You can almost see his smug face saying the words, the picture paints itself for your eyes. It is not a very famous quote. I could not find it anywhere described or talked about on the Internet which is a shame. Wickham is a character you love to hate. I cannot imagine a worse thing to say about someone then they were “not very promising”. She could've used a million words here to put in Wickham’s mouth, but his understated contempt showcased his character. Jane Austen has an understated way of speaking volumes without using ugly vulgar language. This cut down stings just as much today as it did years ago as it will hundred years from now, it is truly timeless.