Understanding Pride and Prejudice


This Web page has been designed to assist students to:

  • Explore 19th century literature.
  • Develop understanding of class distinctions in 19th century England.
  • Deepen appreciation for Austen’s ability to expose human experience in her literature.

For ease of study, topics have been divided into 4 categories

  1. Jane Austen
  2. 19th century literature and novel of manners
  3. The world of Pride and Prejudice
  4. Pride and Prejudice:
    1. Overview
    2. Themes in focus

Note: Some of these categories will naturally overlap.

Jane Austen (1775-1817)

Jane Austen is a well-known British author whose popularity has soared in the last half of the 20th century. Movies, television shows, and spin-off books from her novels and her life fill popular culture, but details about Jane Austen’s personal thoughts are scarce. Her letters were burned or edited by family members who wished to promote her reputation as a nice, quiet aunt. This gap in actual information has created speculation on the part of her romantic life – she remained unmarried until her death – and her views on her contemporaries.

Jane Austen Self-described as a haven for Jane Austen’s fans, The Republic of Pemberley provides excellent links for biographical information on Jane Austen. Check their Homework Help before posting questions.

Jane Austen Wikipedia biographical information and timeline of Jane Austen’s life. Read the bottom notes for insight into how Austen was responsible for publishing costs of her novels, a business practice similar to self-publishing books today.

Jane Austen A straightforward timeline of Austen’s life.

Jane Austen’s Education This essay explores why Jane and Cassandra Austen were sent away to school at an early age.

Remembering Jane Austen Joan Austen-Leigh, Jane Austen’s three times great niece, writes about the family connections with insight into family traditions about their favorite Aunt Jane.

Jane Austen A narrative biography of Jane Austen’s early life.

Jane Austen A timeline of Jane Austen’s life that mingles details from her life with the struggles she encountered trying to have her books published.

Jane Austen A website for readers new to Jane Austen.  On the left are links for quick information on Austen.

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19th century literature and novel of manners

At the turn of the 19th century, British literature underwent a shift away from sentimental novels into realistic novels. Jane Austen’s books which focused on behavior, language and customs often define this literary genre known as novel of manners.

Novel of Manners Wikipedia overview of the literary genre.

Novel of Manners A short essay introducing the concepts that define the novel of manners genre.

Novel of Manners Encyclopedia Britannica summary of the novel of manners genre with links for further research on authors, books, and themes.

19th Century Authors 19th century authors broken down by genre and linked to helpful essays on their works. Jane Austen is listed under “Early Nineteenth-Century British, Romantic & Gothic Novel”.

The world of Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen’s calendar A helpful explanation of how Austen used seasons and holidays in her novels. Close to the bottom is a link for further details on Pride and Prejudice.

Jane Austen’s England A tour map highlighting places from Austen’s novels. There is a fee for the guide, but the first few entries are free and feature Pride and Prejudice locations.

Jane Austen’s Pemberley Most critics believe Jane Austen based Pemberly on Chatsworth, the Derbyshire home of the Dukes of Derbyshire.

St. Clement Eastcheap Researchers believe Austen based Lydia and Wickham’s wedding on St. Clement Eastcheap.

Jane Austen’s England Links to locations from Austen’s novels and houses and buildings used by filmmakers.

Jane Austen’s home Jane Austen house museum website. Virtual tour offers photos of Austen’s writing desk.

Money Matters A very helpful guide converting 19th century pounds to 1988 dollars. This guide gives a modern reader an understanding of Mr. Darcy’s wealth and status.

Pride and Prejudice: Overview

As literary critic Lionel Trilling once wrote about Austen, “. . . the opinions which are held of her work are almost as interesting, and almost as important to think about, as the work itself.” Although critics agree that Austen captures the human experience in her novels, they disagree as to the depth of her influence.

Pride and Prejudice Chapter-by-chapter online text of the novel.

Pride and Prejudice An essay which focuses on the difficulty of showing complex 19th century class relationships in the 21st century.

The Hero’s Journey Literary critics Harold Bloom and Blake Hobby focus on Mr. Darcy’s prejudice in this essay which is part of a larger collection of essays about the hero’s journey.

Literary criticism Literary critic Harold Bloom evaluates the themes in Pride and Prejudice. (Google books)Theme in Focus: Love

Love and Resentment A short essay about how Mr. Darcy’s resentment turns to love.

Love and Resentment Dr. Horace Jeffrey Hodges’ longer essay on resentment and love in Pride and Prejudice.

Love and Resentment A short essay from Dr. Horace Jeffrey Hodges with further thoughts on Austen’s views on romantic love as shown by Darcy.

Love and Marriage A summary on how marriage is the ultimate expression of love in Austen’s novels. Useful questions.

Love and Marriage A study guide featuring a short summary on the theme of love and marriage in Pride and Prejudice.

Theme in Focus: Family

Family Brief summary of how family is a theme in Pride and Prejudice.

Family Information on the importance of family in Pride and Prejudice.

Family An essay that focuses on Mr. Bennet as a father and sister Mary’s role within the Bennet family.

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