The Ethical Mode of 'Pride and Prejudice'

Giulia Giuffre


While Jane Austen feared that Pride and Prejudice might be considered "too light, and bright, and sparkling," much modern criticism has made the novel seem very weighty indeed. The fundamental mode of the book, however, would appear to reside somewhere between the two positions. In Pride and Prejudice it is precisely in the "lightness" that the moral aspect is revealed, and the limpid surface of the novel is suffused with "sense." Perhaps more successfully than any major novelist of the Eighteenth Century, Jane Austen was able to combine the stuff of the novel, everyday life, with the matter of the sermon. But she does so with such skill that any seams remain invisible.

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