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Prejudice is one of the most popular novels of Jane Austen due to its multi-
dimensional versatility of themes. Jane Austen is an accomplished artist within her
limited range, she handles characters, dialogues, events and plot-construction with
an exquisite mastery, weaving and interweaving all main elements of novel into
one. Jane Austen used satire in her famous novel Pride and Prejudice. Satire is
basically used to attack the characters to bring a change about them. The tone of
the novel is light, satirical, and vivid. Scenes such as Mr. Collins proposal to
Elizabeth, and Lady Catherine visits to Lizzy at Longbourn, provides comic relief
to the reader while at the same time revealing certain traits of the characters. For
example, Lydia’s lack of common sense and responsibility is revealed when she
takes pride in being the first Bennet girl to be married. Lydia does not take into
consideration the circumstance of her marriage, the personality of her husband, or
the prospects of their marriage for the future.
Jane Austen uses different literary devices throughout Pride and Prejudice
and most of them are used to create humour and various other elements that enrich
the story. Satire is used in Pride and Prejudice to make fun of human vices or
The range of Jane Austen’s characters is rather narrow. She selects her
characters from among the landed gentry in the countryside. Sir Walter Scott very
accurately describes this range:

“Jane Austen confines herself chiefly to the middling classes of society … and
those which
are sketched with most originality and precision, belong to a class rather
below that standard.”


Satire can be described as “a literary composition, in verse or prose, in which

human folly and vice is held up to scorn, derision, or ridicule”
“the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or
deriding vice, folly etc.”

Satire and the absurd in Pride and Prejudice:

The principal, most widespread and most obvious form of humour in the novel is
satire - lampooning by means of caricature or exaggeration customs and attitudes
that the author disapproves, or characters who embody these hated attitudes.
Austen also has an eye for the absurd in human behaviour, and we meet, in the
pages of the novel, a number of memorably silly characters who go beyond
stereotypes: the best of these are probably Mr. Collins, Lady Catherine and Mr.
Wickham. In some cases, Austen will use her chief character, Elizabeth, to point
this ridicule, while in others she allows the absurdity to manifest itself. Mr. Bennet
is also used as a more detached commentator on the society he evidently despises
and from which he holds aloof. Austen, despite or because of her sex, aims most
of her satire at women. Her favourite target seems to be the small-mindedness of
the sex, the typical preoccupation with fashion, comfort and domestic security.
Men are also ridiculed, but more for their individual failings. Perhaps the
exaggerated and undignified self-abasement of Collins and, to some extent, Sir
William Lucas, is a more widespread fault, as, perhaps, is the philistinism of Hurst
and the avarice of Wickham.

Different Examples of Satire from Pride and Prejudice:

We have different examples of satire through out the novel and we will discuss
them according to the different characters in the novel.

William Collins:
William Collins, aged twenty-five, is Mr Bennet's clergyman cousin and,
as Mr Bennet has no son, heir to his estate. Austen described him as "not a
sensible man, and the deficiency of nature had been but little assisted by education
or society." Collins boasts of his acquaintance with and advantageous patronage
from Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Mr Bennet, Jane, and Elizabeth consider him
pompous and lacking in common sense.
Austen disapproves of Mr. Collins and that is why she attacks and satirizes
him. His living with Lady Catherine has caused him to demoralize himself. He
thinks and talks highly of people higher than himself, such as, Lady Catherine
DeBourgh. An example of this is when they were invited to dine with Lady
Catherine DeBourgh and Mr. Collins then tells Elizabeth:

"Do not make yourself uneasy, my dear cousin, about your apparel.
Lady Catherine is far form requiring that elegance of dress in us which
becomes herself and daughter. I would advise you merely to put on whatever of
your clothes is superior to the rest ...she likes to have the distinction of rank

This shows how high he thinks Lady Catherine is and this sort of shows
that he thinks he's sort of better than her by implying that she doesn't have an
elegant dress.
Mr. Collins is so thickheaded that he didn't notice Mr. Darcy's contempt
towards him. When Mr. Bennet commented on Mr. Collins letter, Mr. Bennet said
that Mr. Collins letter contained a "mixture of servility / and self importance".
This is why Mr. Collins is also a fop.
Elizabeth finds Mr Collins “a conceited, pompous, narrow-minded, silly
man”. Her observation is quite correct. Elizabeth¹s rejection of Mr Collin¹s
marriage proposal was a revolutionary landmark in the context of the novel.
Although rejecting a man who you do not love is a self-evident truth for us in
todays society, in 1813, it was a far less obvious matter. Mr Collins was socially
desirable, he would provide Elizabeth a home, respectability and long term
stability for the Bennet family. However, on a personal level, Elizabeth realizes
that Mr Collins would have brought her to insanity and that she could never love
such a man.

Another quote from Mr. Collins is:

"The death of your daughter would have been a blessing in comparison of


In this quote, Austen uses satire through Mr. Collins simply by showing
how much he is a people pleaser. Austen shows that Mr. Collins would rather deal
with death, or would prefer death, than to make a ripple, or to ruffle the feathers of
society and propriety in that day and age.

In Chapter 19 Mr Collins proposes to Lizzy. The conversation on her part is

dripping with sarcasm.

"The idea of Mr. Collins, with all his solemn composure, being run away with
by his feelings, made Elizabeth so near laughing that she could not use the
short pause he allowed in any attempt to stop him farther, and he continued"

Austen satirizes Mr. Collins because people shouldn't demoralize

themselves for the sake of people higher than them on the social ladder of society.
People shouldn't think that they are better than most people because thinking that
doesn't make you better, it makes you worse. People like this needs to be changed.

Mr. Williams Collins, the silly and conceited baboon who is completely
stupify by Lady Catherine in every aspect of his life that he has forgotten his own
morals and duty.

Lady Catherine De Bourgh:

She possesses wealth and social standing, is haughty, domineering and
condescending. The highest person on the social ladder mentioned in Pride and
Prejudice is Lady Catherine De Bourgh. Jane Austen also disapproves of her.
Lady Catherine is demanding and thinks that she can order whomever she wants
An example of this is when she visits Elizabeth after hearing the rumor that Mr.
Darcy was to propose to her. Lady Catherine thinks she and people like her are
better than everyone because she says to Elizabeth:

"I know the rumor it must be a scandalous falsehood"

She accuses Elizabeth of trying to get Mr. Darcy from the beginning.
"Your arts and allurements may, in a moment of infatuation, have made
him forget what he owes to himself and all his family"
When Elizabeth replied with a "smart-aleck" comment, Lady Catherine De
Bourgh says:
"Miss Bennet, do you know who I am?"
What she means by this is that Elizabeth shouldn't talk back to her because she is
one of the highest people on the social ladder. When Lady Catherine De Bourgh
was "interrogating" Elizabeth, she demands Elizabeth to promise no to marry Mr.
Darcy if he proposes. Lady Catherine thinks she can order whomever she wants
just because she is high and mighty. Ordering servants around is a lot different
from ordering other people around because servants work for you and other
people don't. These are reasons why she needs to be changed. The main reason of
Austen’s disapproval of Lady Catherine is her arrogant nature and that is why
Austen satirizes her.

Here is another quote from Lady Catherine character relating satire:

"And that I suppose is one of your sisters."

Austen uses satire in this particular quote by showing that Lady Catherine, who is
looked up to as the example for how you should behave, dress, and be associated
with, is stiffly and rudely addressing Elizabeth's sister, Kitty, while showing none
of the manners that she so strongly preaches about her community.

Lady Catherine comes to speak to Elizebeth Bennet about a supposed engagement

to Mr Darcy in Chapter 56. These lines are the strongest example of the satire in
Pride and Prejudice:

"If you believed it impossible to be true," said Elizabeth, colouring with

astonishment and disdain, "I wonder you took the trouble of coming so far.
What could your ladyship propose by it?"

"At once to insist upon having such a report universally contradicted."

"Your coming to Longbourn, to see me and my family," said Elizabeth coolly,
"will be rather a confirmation of it; if, indeed, such a report is in existence."

Pride and Prejudice has satire through out the entire book. The
most outrageous characters in the book like Mr. Collins and Lady Catherine De
Bourgh are so over inflated with their self pontificating that Elizabeth Bennet only
has to observe and smile at the prideful boasting for the others in the room to
observe the situation.

Mrs. Bennet:
Mrs Bennet is the wife of her social superior Mr Bennet, and mother of
Elizabeth and her sisters. She is frivolous, excitable, and narrow-minded, and is
susceptible to attacks of tremors and palpitations. Her public manners and social
climbing are embarrassing to Jane and Elizabeth.
Mrs. Bennet with five marriageable daughters has fond hopes of arranging
a match between the eligible suitor Charles Bingley and any one of her daughters.
And she is such a fool and greedy woman that she sends Jane in a rainy storm to
visit Mr. Bingley as in Chapter 7, Elizabeth remarks sarcastically about Jane’s
“If Jane should die; it would be comfort to know that it was all in pursuit
of Mr. Bingley”

This shows that Mrs Bannet is such a foolish and greedy woman that for her the
first priority is that Jane’s marriage to Mr. Bingley and she even does not care if
she lost her daughter in this scenario and the following lines are a proof of her
greedy nature and is also a good example of satirizing.
"You had better go on horseback, because it seems likely to rain and you
must stay all night"

another important line:

"As long as she stays there, it is all very well"

This shows that how Mrs. Bennet is trying to tempt Mr. Bingley using Jane’s
illness as a weapon and she does not want to miss any chance and she plays the
game even on the sake of the life of her daughter.
Austen uses satire against characters with deficient characteristics. One of
these characteristics is ignorance. Austen attacks characters, such as, Lady
Catherine and Mrs. Bennet, which all have deficient characteristics. The first
sentence of this novel, "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man
in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife" establishes Austen's
reason for satirizing the characters in this novel.
Jane Austen satirizes Mrs. Bennet because she is only looking for a rich
fellow for her daughters and she has no concern with the happiness of her
daughters and she is just running after the wealth and the high class aristocratic
society. She must also have thought about the happiness and feelings of her
daughters too but for her the wealth was more important.

Austen had extremely radical views for her time. She believed that marriage
should not occur on the grounds of superficial feelings, pressures to marry, or
wealth and social status and for this purpose she satirizes the society of the 18 th
century of that time through different characters in her novel. Austen uses satire
against characters with deficient characteristics. One of these characteristics is
ignorance. Austen attacks characters, such as, Lady Catherine and Mrs. Bennet,
which all have deficient characteristics.