This study guide will help you analyse the novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. In addition to detailed help for your analysis, you can find a full summary of the entire book, as well as summaries of individual chapters. We will also give you information about the historical context of the novel, and we will make suggestions for interpreting it and putting it into perspective.
The novel exists in many different editions, so the page numbers listed in your version may be different from the ones in our guide. Our guide is based on a PDF-version of the novel which is freely available at Project Gutenberg.
Title: Pride and Prejudice (1813)
Author: Jane Austen
Jane Austen (1775-1817) was an English writer. Today she is especially known for her six great novels, which provide an in-depth description and analysis of British society at the turn of the century, focusing especially on the middle and upper classes in the countryside. Her writing style is characterised by the use of humour and irony, as well as a focus on realism and social criticism.
In Austen's time it was difficult for a female writer to publish books under her own name, so she published her works anonymously. Austen's novels were very popular - both during and after her lifetime. However, professional critics did not think much of Austen's work during her lifetime, as they did not fit any of the literary trends of the period.
At the end of the 19th century, the academic world started to appreciate Austen's works more, and they began to be regarded as serious literature. This development has continued until this day, as Austen's authorship has now been the subject of numerous treatises and papers.
Austen's works are also greatly popular outside the academic world. Today her novels are read all over the globe, and they have also been adapted successfully to tv and cinema multiple times. BBC's 1995 miniseries based on Pride and Prejudice was a particular highlight of these adaptations, becoming a resounding success among both critics and audience.
You can read a short excerpt from our study guide below:
Style of writing
An important aspect when it comes to Austen's style of writing in Pride and Prejudice is the use of the epistolary genre. In the novel, characters often exchange letters which they read to themselves or out loud to others. The way they read these letters often sets a comical tone. However, letters also help us better understand characters’ feelings and thoughts, conflicts, and resolutions.
As character-building elements, consider Mr Collins’ initial letter which prompts Mr Bennet to conclude that his relative is pompous and foolish.
Finally, one of the most important letters in the novel is the one Darcy addresses to Elizabeth after she rejects his marriage proposal. The letter adds to the climax of the story and also helps us understand Darcy’s reasoning and adds to his characterisation.