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P&P Chapter Analysis

P&P Chapter Analysis

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Published by: scoop712 on Oct 19, 2008
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Ryan Thomas
World Lit. Honors

Pride and Prejudice Chapter Analysis
Chapters 23 & 24

If nothing else, Pride and Prejudice makes one laugh. Austen keeps her novel
constantly witty and humorous, and no chapters better exemplify this humor than 23 and
24. Humor, mainly through irony and satire, presents itself frequently in these chapters.
In addition, Austen includes a discussion between Jane and Elizabeth that shows their
allegorical natures: Jane, a Romanticist, and Elizabeth, an Enlightenment thinker.
Finally, some foreshadowing takes place in these chapters. The elements of humor,
allegory, and foreshadowing come together to make Chapters 23 and 24 two of the most
enjoyable chapters in the book, despite their brevity.

Indeed, Chapters 23 and 24 cover little of the plot, though they do set a refreshing
tone that energizes this part of the story. Chapter 23 comprises Mr. Collins\u2019 return to
Longbourn, and 24 covers the reception of Caroline Bingley\u2019s letter to Jane. Still, Austen
packs these short chapters with plenty of entertainment, particularly in the form of humor.

The first instance of humor occurs when Sir William announces Charlotte\u2019s
engagement. Mrs. Bennet and Lydia\u2019s brash comments, combined with Sir William\u2019s
\u201cmost forbearing courtesy\u201d in listening to them, provide some dramatic irony. The two
have no idea that their words come across as extremely rude, and their ignorance proves
hilarious to the reader. Mrs. Bennet\u2019s comments also reinforce her characterization, as
they show that no matter what happens, she cares much more about the impact on her life
than those on the parties directly involved. Humor also presents itself in Mr. Collins\u2019s
return to Hertfordshire, as he spends all his time at Charlotte\u2019s, but insists that he came to

see the Bennets. Further, situational irony appears in Elizabeth\u2019s trust of Wickham; since
she usually judges people accurately, the reader believes Wickham trustworthy and
wronged, when really he betrayed Darcy. In addition, the fact that \u201cWickham\u2019s society
was of material service in dispelling the gloom,\u201d provides irony in that Wickham, by
eloping with Lydia, only gives the Bennets gloom and worry in the future. Once again,
Austen satirizes Mrs. Bennet by using her diction. For example, on lines 16-21 of page
100, Austen takes on the Mrs. Bennet\u2019s voice in listing her woes: \u201cIt was very strange that
he should come to Longbourn instead of to Lucas Lodge; it was also very inconvenient
and exceedingly troublesome. She hated having visitors in the house while her health
was so indifferent, and lovers were of all people the most disagreeable.\u201d This shows Mrs.
Bennet\u2019s personality; concerned with her own desires and determinations to the last.
Ironically, Mrs. Bennet would fawn over Mr. Collins if he had married Elizabeth; but
because he married Charlotte, she perceives him as an inconvenience. Finally, Mr.
Bennet lends the reader his wit yet again, when he informs Elizabeth that she should, to
avoid letting Jane outdo her, allow Wickham to \u201cjilt her credibly,\u201d and disappoint her in
love. This verbal irony (Mr. Bennet means the complete opposite of what he says), in
addition to adding humor to the story, shows that Mr. Bennet (rightly) does not trust
Wickham. He ends this small caution with the customary poke at Mrs. Bennet, saying
that, \u201cit is a comfort to think that, whatever of that kind may befall you, you have an
affectionate mother who will always make the most of it.\u201d These numerous instances of
humor make chapters 23 and 24 thoroughly enjoyable.

In addition, the chapters include an excellent example of allegory that presents
itself throughout the novel. As Elizabeth and Jane talk, after Miss Bingley\u2019s letter has

arrived, their view and attitudes perfectly reflect the eras they represent. Jane, who
serves as an allegory for Romanticists, speaks sentimentally and emotionally about her
disappointment at Bingley\u2019s absence over the winter. Though Austen\u2019s bias against
Romanticists shows in Jane\u2019s exaggeration of her situation, this discussion reveals Jane\u2019s
allegorical nature. Elizabeth, who reflects Enlightenment thinkers, logically and (almost)
emotionlessly analyzes everyone\u2019s behaviors, realizing the Bingley sisters\u2019 obvious
involvement in Bingley\u2019s absence, while Jane idealistically defends everyone involved,
saying that the sisters would never do something so cruel. \u201cIf they believed him attached
to me, they would not try to part us,\u201d she says. This na\u00efve belief in the sisters\u2019 inherent
saintliness reflects the attitudes of Romanticism, though skewed by Austen\u2019s contempt for
Romanticism. This allegory makes the chapters much more significant, and thereby,
more entertaining.

Foreshadowing, along with its fulfillment, also enhances chapters 23 and 24. In
chapter 23, the Bennets hear of Charlotte\u2019s engagement to Collins, who seems conceited,
stupid, and well off. In chapter 5, she said that \u201chappiness in marriage is entirely a matter
of chance\u2026it is better to know as little as possible the defects of the person with whom
you are to pass your life.\u201d Her marriage to Collins follows this exact philosophy. In
chapter 24, Jane tries to persuade everyone to reserve judgment on Wickham and Darcy
until they hear both sides of the story, though no one heeds her at the time. Later, when
Elizabeth learns of Wickham\u2019s abuse of Darcy and Georgiana, she realizes that she
should have heeded her sister. These instances of foreshadowing add depth to the
chapters, making them more interesting.

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