A Short Essay For Your Edification

I was recently cajoled into reading Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen's classic novel, by a certain female friend of mine who insisted that it held the key to a woman's heart. As said certain female was taking a class at the time in which she was forced to write "formula essays" (introduction paragraph with thesis, exactly three body paragraphs [no more and no less], and concluding paragraph), she joked that she wanted a formula essay from me when I finished the book. Here is the result.

N.B. (but no prize this time) The spelling of "choose" in the final sentence of the essay is a reference to Ms. Austen's spelling of the selfsame word.

Andrew J. Harbison
Miss Crawford

The Key to a Woman’s Heart; As Defined By Pride and Prejudice

It has often been said that Jane Austen, in addition to being a fine novelist, also brings to her novels a keen eye for human nature and social commentary. It has also often been said that her magnum opus, Pride and Prejudice, holds the key to a woman’s heart, perhaps as a result of the aforementioned characteristics. In this paper I will show that Pride and Prejudice teaches that there are three kinds of women, personified by three different characters, and that there are three separate ways (respectively) to their hearts.

The first type of woman is illustrated by the character of Lydia Bennet. She is flighty, flirty and will do anything for a man’s attention. Her mind is empty and admits no improvement or desire therefor. The key to the heart of this type of woman is simply to give her what she wants: attention. Her lover/husband, Mr Wickham, has no real or lasting affection for her, but she is devoted to him because he flatters her and gives her the attention she craves.

The second type of woman is illustrated by the character of Charlotte Lucas. She is a moderately bright, sensible girl, but her only desire is to be settled into a comfortable life. The key to the heart of this type of woman is also to give her what she wants: a reasonable home, situation and income. Mr Collins, despite being insufferably overpolite and socially awkward, is able to provide a mediocre life for Charlotte, and so she marries him with no pretensions of happiness but with the assurance that she will not lack a decent (or at least barely acceptable) living.

The third type of woman is illustrated by the character of Elizabeth Bennet. She is intelligent, witty, and has idealistic and romantic notions of actually marrying for love. It is easy to determine what she wants because she states her husband’s responsibilities in the penultimate chapter (speaking of her care of her sister Jane): “Dearest Jane! Who could have done less for her? But make a virtue of it by all means. My good qualities are under your protection, and you are to exaggerate them as much as possible; and, in return, it belongs to me to find occasions for teasing and quarrelling with you as often as may be....” She desires her husband to protect her and honor her, to praise her (to herself and others), to provide for her, and to truly love her, not for who she appears to be or who others make her out to be, but for who she really is.

In conclusion, women are not really as complicated as men think they are, because there are really only three kinds. Jane Austen presents these three kinds of women in some of her characters in her classic novel, Pride and Prejudice (three characters, to be exact; they are Lydia Bennet, Charlotte Lucas, and Elizabeth Bennet). This is because Jane Austen has a keen eye for human nature and social commentary. The first sentence of the novel is this: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” And with only three options and three simple ways to win their hearts, it remains only for him to chuse which one he desires.


Amy Grace said...

Wow... you actually wrote an essay on it! Kudos to you!
Thank you for the very nice comment you left on my blog! It was so kind, and made my night!
Have you seen any more cockroaches????

Darth_Harbison said...

So I feel like I'm supposed to leave a comment, but I don't know what to say . . .

And if you see cockroach, don't kill it. According to geneticist Dr. Mohinder Suresh, cockroaches are the pinnacle of evolution. Go figure.

Mike Morabito said...

AJ, is it just me or do I sense a bit of scarcasm in your essay?

...Anyway, props on being a good writer as displayed here and props for finally figuring women out.


Raelynn said...

Am I allowed to give commentary? I assume I can since this is the "Leave your comment" page.

Bravo for reading the book and bravo again for writing an essay.

However... I'm not so sure I would concur with the conclusion referring to the simplicity of women. I would lean more towards the complexity of the three types of women crossing over each other, no more so than Elizabeth. (and I say lean because the key is a bit of a mystery, and for me to define it would be rather presumptuous for the rest of the female race.)

What she desires (which you were correct about) and her actions don't compliment each other. She desires to be honored and yet cannot pay respects to a perfect stranger. Ultimately she acts flighty in that she doesn't take the time to understand everyone involved and acts based on how she feels. She also acts through security, only starting to understand the situation once being provided for.

The key is Mr. Darcy, despite her being hypocritical, in the end he would give anything for her. He makes Elizabeth see things about herself she wouldn't have seen otherwise, but with kindness and ease. What woman feel when they read Pride and Prejudice isn't that they just want a handsome man who will fulfill their hearts desire. Deep down they feel (some never mentally realize it) the sense that they want to be bettered by their husband, Mr. Darcy in doing so turns them all to butter.

bellevoce said...

hmmmm, very interesting indeed. AJ IS very presumptuous regarding women ;)

I have to begin by saying that I have not read the novel myself. (I know, horrible for an English major, but I am going to take a Jane Austen class later in the year which will cover all the necessary bases.) I would say that Pride and Prejudice represents
three types of the many out there. It could even be argued, that the three types presented were indigenous (?) to the time period, as now, women have so many other options available to them.

Virginia Woolf discusses in her book "A Room of One's Own," about how there were no female Shakespeares during his time. She displays that women simply did not have the ability. Woolf provides the formula for female inspiration: 500 pounds and a room of one's own. Thus, the availability of these prerequisites enables women to attempt and accomplish more.

So also, it could be theorized that women, since the time of Austen, have gained a greater amount of status and income, which has led to a change in the production of personalities of women differing from Austen's time period. Whereas men have through the ages, had an upper hand in most socities, women are increasingly complex because we are undergoing a new process of equalization.

Which leads to raelynn's interesting comment about how "Deep down they [women] feel (some never mentally realize it) the sense that they want to be bettered by their husband." It is perhaps the struggle between the competing views which make us so complicated.

Just a suggestion... :)

Brandy said...

May I suggest that you attend English 100?!!!!!!! Your ability to categorize women seems a bit pig headed to say the least; however, I would disagree on several of the main points and would like to state them here...
-your use of parentheses is unneccesary and distracts from the general subject wishing to be communication.
-might want to make sure your quote relates to the topic wishing to address.
- In conclusion... are you joking me! Really, how did you get a degree. At least I dropped out and don't pretend to be intelligent... but man what a low blow!

Hey thanks for wanting to understand women at least that is more than 90% of the male population.