Pride and Prejudice

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Pride and Prejudice is Jane Austen’s perhaps most famous novel, first published in 1813. The story charts the emotional development of the protagonist, who learns the error of making hasty judgements and comes to appreciate the difference between the superficial and the essential. The comedy of the writing lies in the depiction of manners, education, and marriage and money in the British Regency.

Mr Bennet of the Longbourne estate has five daughters, but his property is entailed meaning that none of the girls can inherit it. Having married a woman who had no fortune, it is imperative that one of the girls marries well in order to support the others on his death. However, Jane Austen’s opening line ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife’ is a sentence filled with irony and playfulness. The novel revolves around the necessity of marrying for love, not simply for mercenary reasons despite the social pressures to make a good (i.e. wealthy) match.

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Chapter 1

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.

“My dear Mr. Bennet,” said his lady to him one day, “have you heard that Netherfield Park is let at last?”

Mr. Bennet replied that he had not.

“But it is,” retu…

Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7

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Pride and Prejudice retains the fascination of modern readers, consistently appearing near the top of lists of ‘most-loved books’ among both literary scholars and the general public.

It has become one of the most popular novels in English literature, with over twenty million copies sold, and paved the way for many archetypes that abound in modern literature.

Continuing interest in the book has resulted in a number of dramatic adaptations and an abundance of novels and stories imitating Austen’s memorable characters or themes.

Jane Austen (1775–1817) was an English novelist known primarily for her six major novels, which interpret, critique and comment upon the British landed gentry at the end of the eighteenth century. Austen’s plots often explore the dependence of women on marriage in the pursuit of favourable social standing and economic security. Her works critique the novels of sensibility of the second half of the eighteenth century and are part of the transition to nineteenth-century literary realism.