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Why Jane Austen?$
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Rachel Brownstein

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231153911

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231153911.001.0001

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(p.121) Chapter 3 Neighbors
Why Jane Austen?

Rachel M. Brownstein

Columbia University Press

This chapter analyzes “character” in Pride and Prejudice (1813). Reading Pride and Prejudice, one assesses, ranks, and judges the characters in the novel as they assess, rank, and judge one another in order to make the most important choices of their lives. The reader therefore is in the position of the neighbors, who also look on and moralize from their example. By the fourth chapter of the novel, where Jane and Elizabeth Bennet discuss Bingley's personality, it is clear that a man has at least two kinds or dimensions of character, one immediately apparent to others, the other not. The first dimension is manner and reputation, on which the plot of Pride and Prejudice depends, specifically on Mr. Wickham's falsehoods about Mr. Darcy's character; on the truths that Mr. Darcy, and then Elizabeth and Jane withhold about Wickham; and near the end, on the “character” that Darcy's housekeeper, Mrs. Reynolds, gives of her master.

Keywords:   character, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Bennet, Elizabeth Bennet, Charles Bingley, manner, reputation, George Wickham, Fitzwilliam Darcy

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