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Bill_T
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Early Chapter Discussion: Irony and Voice

Pride and Prejudice displays the author's well-known but subtle use of humor, and frequently employs a voice we tend to identify as "ironic." In these early chapters, where do you see the author's tone working to create this sense of irony? What kind of attitude toawrd life does it seem to exemplify?

Note: This discussion topic is particularly suitable for readers who have only read the first section Pride and Prejudice, through the end of Volume 1. If you wish to discuss plot elements introduced later in the book, consider posting in a separate thread.

Click on "Reply" to post your thoughts about this discussion topic, or click "New Message" on the main page to start a new topic thread.
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Everyman
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Re: Early Chapter Discussion: Irony and Voice

The very first line sets the tone of irony. There is no thought for whether the man of fortune actually wants a wife, nor that he should go out a wooing; he is a prize to be captured by that young lady who is most successful in manipulating him into matrimony.

And one of my favorite passages in all of Austen is this:

`Mr. Bennet, how can you abuse your own children in such way? You take delight in vexing me. You have no compassion on my poor nerves.''

``You mistake me, my dear. I have a high respect for your nerves. They are my old friends. I have heard you mention them with consideration these twenty years at least.''
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Roxane_M
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Re: Early Chapter Discussion: Irony and Voice

I think that P&P's is the best first line in all of literature. It tells you all you need to know about the fictive world of the book--that everyone's personal business is known to everyone else as a matter of course, and everyone is fair game. And it's conveyed with such a light, droll touch that we instantly feel that the narrator will be good company.
Melissa_W
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Re: Early Chapter Discussion: Irony and Voice

The irony of the opening line is conveyed through a wonderful set of "absolutes" - "truth", "universally", "must" and "be in want". How dull it would be if the opening line was "Wealthy young men of a certain social set should have a wife."


Everyman wrote:
The very first line sets the tone of irony. There is no thought for whether the man of fortune actually wants a wife, nor that he should go out a wooing; he is a prize to be captured by that young lady who is most successful in manipulating him into matrimony.

And one of my favorite passages in all of Austen is this:

`Mr. Bennet, how can you abuse your own children in such way? You take delight in vexing me. You have no compassion on my poor nerves.''

``You mistake me, my dear. I have a high respect for your nerves. They are my old friends. I have heard you mention them with consideration these twenty years at least.''


Melissa W.
I read and knit and dance. Compulsively feel yarn. Consume books. Darn tights. Drink too much caffiene. All that good stuff.
balletbookworm.blogspot.com
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Everyman
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Re: Early Chapter Discussion: Irony and Voice



Roxane_M wrote:
I think that P&P's is the best first line in all of literature.

That would be a fun topic for discussion, but probably better in some other forum than this AnP&P discussion board. So go look in the Community Room for a discussion of the greatest first lines in literature!
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misslizzie
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Re: Early Chapter Discussion: Irony and Voice


Everyman wrote:
The very first line sets the tone of irony. There is no thought for whether the man of fortune actually wants a wife, nor that he should go out a wooing; he is a prize to be captured by that young lady who is most successful in manipulating him into matrimony.

And one of my favorite passages in all of Austen is this:

`Mr. Bennet, how can you abuse your own children in such way? You take delight in vexing me. You have no compassion on my poor nerves.''

``You mistake me, my dear. I have a high respect for your nerves. They are my old friends. I have heard you mention them with consideration these twenty years at least.''


Love those quotes - well chosen!

Yes, the tone is set right from the start and then carried on faithfully by Mr. Bennett and Elizabeth who is always 'on the same page' with him. When he tells Mrs. Bennett (who is clearly bursting at the seams to tell him about the new tennant of Netherfield) that "you want to tell me, and I have no objection to hearing it." - I always laugh. He really knows her. She can't put one past him but he is constantly sporting with her tendency towards worry and she falls for it every time.

Elizabeth is further described by the author as loving "absurdities" and in the BBC movie her father calls her "a conouisseur (sp?) of human folley" which, though I couldn't find it in the book, yet, is to me an excellent interpretation, if nothing else.

Humour and irony are everywhere in the story and one of the reasons it is so enjoyable for a story written in an unfamiliarly old style.
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Jansten75
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Re: Early Chapter Discussion: Irony and Voice



Roxane_M wrote:
I think that P&P's is the best first line in all of literature. It tells you all you need to know about the fictive world of the book--that everyone's personal business is known to everyone else as a matter of course, and everyone is fair game. And it's conveyed with such a light, droll touch that we instantly feel that the narrator will be good company.




One of my measures of whether a book will engage me comes through my reading of the first paragraph or introduction of the story. I agree with you that the opening line of P&P is one of the best in literature. It carries a social philosophy that I believe is timeless and hits a bull's eye on the pervading shallow thought motivating many ambitious young women and their ambitious families.
"For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?" Pride and Prejudice
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DavidShapard
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Re: Early Chapter Discussion: Irony and Voice


One of my measures of whether a book will engage me comes through my reading of the first paragraph or introduction of the story. I agree with you that the opening line of P&P is one of the best in literature.




I would add, building on the thoughts of Roxane M as well, that the whole first chapter functions brilliantly to draw you in. Unlike many novels, it does not start with lengthy description, which can be a little tedious, it consists almost solely of an extremely fast-paced and funny dialogue. At the same time, the dialogue still prepares for the story by giving a vivid sense of the Bennet family, and by imparting the all-important plot information about Bingley's arrival at Netherfield.
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