Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Humour in ‘Pride and Prejudice’

Humour is a key theme in the novel â€Å"Pride and Prejudice.† It plays a major role in entertaining the reader and providing important characteristics and features of the characters in the novel. Humour is shown in the responses of characters towards one another and the episdary style, which creates humour as it is written from the point of view of the character rather than the style in which the rest of the novel is written in. In chapters 1-20 the reader learns about the character of Mr.Collins. Mr.Bennet's estate brings him two thousand pounds a year, but on his death a distant male relative, Mr.Collins, will inherit both his estate and this income. In chapter 13, Mr.Bennet receives a letter from Mr.Collins in which Mr.Collins informs Mr.Bennet that he will be joining them for dinner. In his letter, Mr.Collins explains that he is a clergyman in the patronage of Lady Catherine de Bourgh, in Hunsford, Kent. He hints a way of resolving the problem of entailment and proposes to visit the family for a week. Jane Austin's use of the letter in chapter 13 is a very clever introduction to the character of Mr.Collins as it gives the reader a brief insight to his character even before the reader meets him. The letter reveals Mr.Collins as a person with an astonishing pomposity. We also learn that he is artificial, haughty, proud and very self-important. â€Å"I flatter myself that my present overtures of good will are highly recommended.† The pedantically worded letter reveals Mr.Collins's artificiality. Furthermore, humour is conveyed in Mr.Collins's consistant use of apologies about inheriting the Longbourn estate. â€Å"I cannot be otherwise than concerned at being the means of injuring your amiable daughters, and beg leave to aplogise for it, as well as to assure you of my readiness to make them every possible amends- but of this hereafter.† Chapter 13. This may have seemed very comical to the reader as Mr.Collins feels that his apology will make the Bennets like him. This reinforces how shallow, insincere and single-minded Mr.Collins actually is. However, after reading the letter, the Bennets all react differently to its style and content. These comments and reactions are used to contrast their characters and perceptions. Mrs.Bennet is immediately placated by Mr.Collins's heavy hints, which suggest that he is thinking of marrying one of her girls. This reinforces Mrs.Bennet's shallowness. Jane approves of his good intentions, which reinforces the point that she is naive. However, Elizabeth questions his sense, which shows her â€Å"quickness†. Mary commends his clicheed composition, whereas, Catherine and Lydia are not interested as he is not a soldier. Mr.Bennet meanwhile looks forward to the enjoyment of Mr.Collins's folly. As does the reader. Later on, after his arrival at the Bennets' estate, Mr.Collins is given a tour of the house not merely in general but to view for value, as he will acquire the property in the future. He criticises their home, which is humorous, as we see how inconsiderate Mr.Collins is. He also does not seem to realise how he may be offending the Bennets. Mr.Collins thinks highly of himself. His language is pedantically worded which shows us that he is trying to convey that he is an intellectual person. The character of Mr.Collins can be likened to the character of Mary, as, although they are both intelligent, they are very artificial in the way in which they present their intelligence to an audience. Mr.Collins uses long sentences in the letter, which portray the shallowness of his character. In chapter 20, when Mr.Collins proposes to Elizabeth, his speech is stilted, pompous and governed by the overweening egotism. His prolix style leads him to break down his speech into numbered points: â€Å"Firstly†¦ secondly†¦ thirdly†¦Ã¢â‚¬  These are unsuitable in a proposal of marriage during which love is proclaimed. Elizabeth nearly laughs at the idea that his business plan is to be presented before he allows his feelings to run away on the subject of the companion that he has chosen for his future life. He shows that he has not considered her views or feelings and he is certain that his offer is an act of generosity. The scene is richly comic, but harsh realities underlie the situation. Collins reminds Elizabeth that since she has so little money to her name, she may never receive another offer of marriage, which shows the reader Mr.Collins's selfishness, rudeness and how inconsiderate he is. Humour is also highlighted in Mr.Collins's marriage proposal when Elizabeth refuses to marry him. He is turned down and this comes as a shock to him. When Elizabeth refuses him, he is determined to see her behaviour as a form of modesty or flirtatiousness, â€Å"the usual practice of elegant females.† The reader comes across absurdity in the way Mr.Collins describes Lady Catherine de Bourgh. He continuously praises her in his letter and compares her with everything and everyone. He says that she is an â€Å"honourable† lady â€Å"whose bounty and beneficence has preferred me to the valuable rectory of his parish, where it shall be my earnest endeavour to demean myself with grateful respect towards her ladyship.† His descriptions of Lady Catherine de Bourgh in the letter are very humorous and Mr.Collins's artificiality is reinforced. This is because he is trying to associate himself with people from the upper class, (although we know he is not as he comes from the same working background as Mr.Bennet). Furthermore, in chapter 16, Mr.Collins, intending a compliment, compares the drawing room to the small breakfast parlour at Rosings, Lady Catherine de Bourgh's estate. Mrs.Philips soon realises that he is tedious snob. Finally, humour throughout â€Å"Pride and Prejudice† has been successful. Throughout chapters 1-20 we see the various ways in which humour is portrayed through the character of Mr.Collins. By using Mr.Collins as the centre of comedy in the novel, Jane Austen entertains the reader and brings a smile to their faces.

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