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Dialouge in Pride and Prejudice

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Lydia Hamilton

Ms. Fisher

AP Literature and Composition

18 January 2006

Dialogue in Pride and Prejudice

The characters, in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, come to life through dialogue. Some characters have an inability to stop talking, while others remain quite and save their words for times when they need to convey their feelings. The dialogue in Pride and Prejudice is unlike that of Shakespeare’s play where characters have lengthy monologues, the dialogue is more conversational, very witty and clever. Rarely is there a character embarking on a extensive speech, and there are not any chapters solely devoted to describing each and every physical characteristic of each person. Jane Austen uses dialogue to portray the personality of her characters, to allow the reader to see the underlying feelings and meanings behind the characters words.

Mr. Bennet’s character reveals itself in his conversations with his wife and his daughters. When we first meet Mr. Bennet, the women in his life are encouraging him to introduce himself to the wealthy new habitant of Netherfield. Mr. Bennet’s wife believes that Mr. Bingley, the new owner of Netherfield, would make a good husband for one of her five daughters however Mr. Bennet, does not see the importance of his visiting Mr. Bingley and this upsets Mrs. Bennet,. “ ‘Mr. Bennet,, how can you abuse your own children in such a way? You take delight in vexing me. You have no compassion for my nerves’ ” (7). This quote is from Mrs. Bennet, addressing Mr. Bennet, and is quite typical of her dramatization of her life, Mr. Bennet, responds to accusations in a way that causes Mrs. Bennet, ever more suffering. “ ‘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’ ” (7). Mr. Bennet, is a character of few words, though when he resides with six women who enjoy conversing it is most presumably an ordeal for one to speak his thoughts or opinions unless they are requested. Mr. Bennet's response to his wife’s claim of infliction of vexing is an early example of the character’s dry wit which accompanies him in every situation. Later on in the novel his beloved daughter, Elizabeth, is proposed to by a rather slimy character, Mr. Collins, a cousin of the family and when Elizabeth rejects his proposal Mrs. Bennet, runs to Mr. Bennet, for support in making Elizabeth wed Mr. Collins. After Mrs. Bennet, presents the situation to her husband he requests that Elizabeth come in so that she may hear his opinion on the subject and Mrs. Bennet, believes that Mr. Bennet, shall support her in saying that Elizabeth must marry Mr. Collins. “ ‘An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do’ ” (111). Mr. Bennet’s character never shows any anger in his words, nor does he foreshadow when speaking with his wife what he will tell Elizabeth. The personality of Mr. Bennet, is very much no nonsense, he has very few conversations with the other characters of the novel and his speech never contains humor, yet shows his true nature of dry wit, which is completely complementary to that of his dear wife who must dramatize every syllable she vocalizes.

Jane Austen uses the mother of the five Bennet girls to be the hysterical woman figure in her novel. In addition to how Austen describes Mrs. Bennet as, “sadly grieved” (265), and as being, “...really ill, and keeps her room” (267), at the news that her daughter, Lydia, has run off with Mr. Wickham, a character of lies and man that can deceive almost anyone, Austen uses Mrs. Bennet’s conversation as to increase the hysteria with which Mrs. Bennet lives. Returning to the part of the novel where Elizabeth is proposed to by Mr. Collins, Austen amplifies Mrs. Bennet’s hysteria and dramatization to a higher level when Mrs. Bennet says she will not see Elizabeth if she does not marry Mr. Collins. “Oh, Mr. Bennet, you are wanted immediately; we are all in an uproar. You must come and make Lizzy marry Mr. Collins, for she vows she will not have him; and if you do not make haste he will change his mind and not have her” (111). The urgency with which Mrs. Bennet feels the situation should be addressed is an excellent example of the seriousness Mrs. Bennet finds in every event. Mr. Collins is a guest in the Bennet household and can not possibly up leave and as is seen by the bumbling speeches given by Mr. Collins his mind may be changed in an instant so that if Elizabeth decided to accept the proposal he would gladly take her. Jane Austen

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