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Published: 13-09-2019

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The Interconnection Between Realism and Romantisism in the Novel

In Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen demonstrates a flexibility of genre in which realism and romanticism are balanced by means of the novel’s socioeconomic accuracy and the characterization of Mr. Darcy, along with Elizabeth Bennet’s idealistic strategy toward marriage. Austen effectively justifies this duality by depicting Elizabeth’s social mobility inside the confines of the British Regency’s stringent class hierarchy. Though romanticism and realism are the primary genres of Pride and Prejudice, the flexibility of genre goes further, incorporating elements of Gothic literature. Critics have argued over the genre of Austen’s novels. To William Dean Howells, her writing exemplifies literary realism, which he considers superior romanticism. In “Novel Writing and Novel Reading,” Howells argues that it is “only the false in art that is ugly” and categorizes authors as either “truthful” or “untruthful.” But he leaves no space for the fluidity of Austen’s genre, which is certainly a main supply of interest in the narrative as a entire. Regardless, Pride and Prejudice consists of the standard attributes of literary realism. No element of fantasy is present, with the characters locating themselves in realistic circumstances. The social class of every character is clearly defined, delivering a nuanced depiction of the British gentry.

Entire chapters of Pride and Prejudice involve the characters lounging around to discuss letter writing and the kind of books they read. A lot is revealed by means of letters rather of dialogue a plot device of stoic functionality. In “Ventriloquized Opinions of Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, and Emma: Jane Austen’s Critical Voice,” Katie Gemmill discusses Austen’s opinion of her own work. Her investigation suggests that Austen would consider herself a realist author. She cites Austen’s letters to Anna which show how Austen was “opposed to characters who displayed virtue or vice in their absolute types. She preferred a realistic depiction of human fallibility” in her novels, accomplishing “what Mary Waldon has described as a ‘blurring of the moral focus’ that ‘leaves the reader unsure whether or not to approve or disapprove of characters.” In Pride and Prejudice, it is unclear regardless of whether Austen successfully achieves this goal. Handful of characters are depicted as best, and this consists of the a lot more favorable characters such as Darcy. But others take into account Austen’s characters to be much more simplistic. Toby R. Benis discusses the BBC miniseries of Pride and Prejudice in “The Austen Impact: Remaking Romantic History as a Novel of Manners. Benis quotes Andrew Davies, the screenplay’s writer, who argues that “no other 18th or 19th century novelist matches Austen’s adaptability for the screen.” Davies cites Austen’s “ear for dialogue” and plots that “work.” Benis mentions that Austen’s novels contain “naturalistic and acceptable detail,” but he doesn’t agree that her novels are entirely realistic in their depiction of social interactions.

Regardless of Austen’s opposition to depicting vice and virtue in absolute terms, Benis discusses how Pride and Prejudice is a “typical Austen novel” where the heroine need to decide on 1 of two suitors “one virtuous and 1 less so.” In between Darcy and Mr. Collins, however, there is not a clear dichotomy amongst vice and virtue. Each characters have personality flaws, but neither of them had been potentially shameful to the Bennets like Wickham. Benis argues that as a “novel of manners,” Pride and Prejudice has produced the “Austen Impact,” given that the “conventions historically connected with the novel…resurface in films representing historical figures and controversies in Georgian England, even when there is small proof to assistance this reading of history.” This suggests that Austen gives an inaccurate view of her time period, discrediting the realism of her novels. But Austen ought to not be blamed for directors misinterpreting her function. All of her novels, which includes Pride and Prejudice, depict a narrow segment of British society. The novel’s opening statement “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man of a great fortune should be in want of a wife,” is ironically idealistic. The narrator mocks this generalization by mentioning that the “feelings or views of such a man” are “little recognized.” Nevertheless, the statement is described once more as a “truth” believed by the Bennets and their “surrounding families.” No characters expresses this “truth” straight, but if any of them did, it would have to be Mrs. Bennet. Mrs. Bennet is one of the novel’s a lot more realistic characters. She does not care about how compatible a potential suitor may be for one of her daughters. Although discussing Bingley to Mr. Bennet, she mentions that he is “a single man of massive fortune four or 5 thousand a year. Her utilitarian approach toward marriage is suitable, considering the inheritance laws described early in the novel. These laws would leave the Bennet sisters in a precarious circumstance, because the estate can only be left to Mr. Collins. But Mrs. Bennet isn’t totally grounded in reality. Regardless of her family’s social status, Mrs. Bennet is highly optimistic. By putting as well significantly emphasis on how Bingley’s fortune would be useful to her daughters, she never ever considers why Bingley may possibly want to marry one of them. However she nevertheless believes it’s “very probably that he could fall in really like with 1 of them.” She doesn’t care if her daughters fall in really like with Bingley.

Bingley validates this optimism when he very first meets the Bennets. He quickly tells Mrs. Bennet that he intends to marry 1 of her daughters, ignoring their social class and his lack of familiarity with the loved ones. But Bingley’s mother considers a willingness to marry beneath himself so shameful that she lectures Darcy for his attraction to Elizabeth. She considers Elizabeth’s choice to walk to their home an “abominable sort of conceited independence” and “indifference to decorum.” Miss Bingley points out Elizabeth’s dirty petticoat, and reminds Darcy that he wouldn’t want his sisters to be like Elizabeth. Unlike Mrs. Bennet, Miss Darcy seeks to enforce social norms a lot more strictly. This does not imply that Mrs. Bennet disregards social norms, but she lacks tact and is shameless in her opportunism. The older and younger characters display a generational divide in their attitude toward marriage. Elizabeth Bennet has a lofty view of marriage. She refuses to marry for income alone, and rejects two marriage proposals. Like Bingley and Darcy, she’s willing to disregard social class when contemplating marriage. This offers the novel a sense of romanticism in spite of an otherwise realistic setting. Anxiety toward class difference is presented much less harshly than in Persuasion. The heroine of each novel marries her lover, but the rejection of proposal in Persuasion brings Anne to the a lot more melancholic predicament of eight years wasted. Elizabeth is not given time to evaluate whether she produced the proper decision since she doesn’t have to wait lengthy to reverse her selection. These characterizations aren’t enough to discredit Pride and Prejudice as an instance of realism, given that their personalities and story arcs are entirely plausible.

To Kenneth L. Moler, however, this interpretation can not be applied to each and every character in the novel. In “Pride and Prejudice: Jane Austen’s Patrician Hero,” he argues that “the transition between the arrogant young man of the early chapters of the novel and the polite gentleman whom Elizabeth Bennet marries is too fantastic and as well abrupt to be fully credible.” He explains that Austen primarily based Darcy on the “patrician hero archetype,” which other people have described as the “byronic hero.” Sarah Wootton discusses Byronic influence in Pride and Prejudice, explaining that “pride is a ubiquitous trait of the Byronic hero.” She argues that Austen introduces the “usually isolated Byronic hero into an intimate, domestic setting” to highlight Darcy’s flaws, like how he gives “offense at a provincial dance” and is “ungracious to the partnerless women” there. Wootton considers his first proposal arrogant, because he had “no doubt of a favourable answer.” Wootton cites the Gothic villain as another parallel amongst Austen and Byron. Despite the fact that Northanger Abbey is the Austen novel identified for satirizing the Gothic genre, Wootton mentions how other critics such as Paul Giles have “detected a residual Gothic charge in Pride and Prejudice. Giles considers Darcy a “radically double character,” noting that Austen depicts him as a “haughty Derbyshire gentleman one particular moment and an enigmatic Gothic hero the subsequent.”Considering this, Darcy might represent an best fiance by the finish of the novel which might not exist in reality. Moler also notes that his transformation from arrogance to politeness can be attributed to Elizabeth’s realization that her pride led her to be prejudiced against him. This interpretation is consistent with Susan Morgan’s argument that Elizabeth does not stick to “external structures,” and is “preoccupied with making her own.” She describes this Elizabeth’s perspective as a “fluid reality,” discussing how “the nature of character” can conflict with the “nature of reality.” She argues that Austen “has no truths to tell,” which explains why the novel strays from realism with no totally embracing romanticism.

Like Elizabeth’s perception, the genre of Pride and Prejudice is an additional fluid reality. Wootton argues that as a modern of Byron, Austen may have been reacting to the “overnight good results and the emergence of the semi-autobiographical Byronic hero when editing the novel.” Nevertheless, Wootton isn’t fully convinced that Austen was straight influenced by Byron. As an alternative, she argues that their similarities are derived from shared influence. She points out how Austen was familiar with some of the same literary figures including Milton’s Satan, Hamlet, and Richardson’s Lovelace. I consider Pride and Prejudice a pragmatically realistic novel, presented romantically. The novel starts with Mrs. Bennet’s challenge to see her daughters be married as quickly as feasible, and she celebrates how 3 out of five effectively do so. Although the plot focuses on Elizabeth and her more romantic ideals about marriage, Mrs. Bennet’s reacts to this marriage by exclaiming “how wealthy [Elizabeth] will be,” emphasizing the “pin-income,” jewels, and carriages” she’ll have. Lydia’s marriage is less than best. Darcy actually pays Wickham to change his thoughts and marry her.

It is clear that Pride and Prejudice is a lot more than a lofty romance and cannot be defined by a single genre. Austen most likely did this intentionally. Gemmill’s evaluation of Austen’s letters leads to the conclusion that Austen was “torn among her personal conviction of the require for distinct novelistic innovations, and her wish for readers to comprehend and appreciate them.” Gemmill argues that Austen’s characters “set the stage for nineteenth-century realism,” but I would argue that her innovations transcend the limits of 19th century realism. In combining the Byronic and the realistic, Austen’s genre was a transitional type of realism that connected two artistic movements.
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