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The Annotated Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen

  The Annotated Pride and Prejudice

  Jane Austen

  Annotations to the Front Cover

  Jane Austen's sister, Cassandra, painted this picture of their niece, Fanny Austen Knight. Fanny's surname resulted from her father's adoption by distant relations named Knight who left their estate to him. This reasonably common procedure could explain the difference in name of Mr. Bennet and Mr. Collins in the novel, despite their common paternal ancestry.

  Fanny was very close to Austen, often asking her advice about love and marriage. In her replies, Austen acknowledges the economic benefits of marriage for women but also argues firmly, in words she repeats almost verbatim in Pride and Prejudice, that one should never marry without love.

  Fanny's sketching, like Cassandra's execution of this picture, suggests how many ladies drew or painted at that time. Such accomplishments were highly valued in young ladies; the Bennet girls are criticized for their inability to draw.

  Fanny's dress is typical of period fashions, which favored high waists, soft flowing fabrics, and light colors.

  The Annotated


  Annotated and Edited by


  David Shapard graduated with a Ph.D. in European History from the University of California at Berkeley; his specialty was the eighteenth century. Since then he has taught at several colleges. He lives in upstate New York.

  The cottage at Chawton, Hampshire. This was where Jane Austen lived in the last part of her life, and where she wrote most of her novels.

  [From Mary Augusta Austen-Leigh, Personal Aspects of Jane Austen (New York, 1920), p. 112]


  Notes to the Reader





  (Note: The following chapter headings are not found in the novel. They are added here by the editor to assist the reader.)

  I Mr. and Mrs. Bennet

  II The Bennet Family

  III The First Dance

  IV Elizabeth and Jane

  V The Miss Bennets and the Miss Lucases

  VI The Party at the Lucases

  VII Jane Invited to Netherfield

  VIII Elizabeth's First Evening at Netherfield

  IX Visit of Mrs. Bennet

  X Elizabeth Debating Darcy

  XI Discussion of Darcy and Pride

  XII Departure from Netherfield

  XIII Arrival of Mr. Collins

  XIV An Evening with Mr. Collins

  XV Encounter of Darcy and Wickham

  XVI Elizabeth and Wickham

  XVII Preparations for the Ball

  XVIII The Ball at Netherfield

  XIX Elizabeth and Mr. Collins

  XX End of Mr. Collins's Offer

  XXI News of Bingley's Departure

  XXII Mr. Collins and Charlotte

  XXIII The Reaction of the Bennets


  I Despair over Bingley

  II The Gardiners' Christmas Visit

  III Jane's Stay with the Gardiners

  IV Elizabeth's Stop in London

  V Elizabeth's Arrival at Charlotte's

  VI Dinner with Lady Catherine

  VII Arrival of Darcy

  VIII An Evening at Lady Catherine's

  IX Darcy's Visit

  X Elizabeth and Colonel Fitzwilliam

  XI The Proposal

  XII Darcy's Letter

  XIII Reaction to the Letter

  XIV Farewell to Lady Catherine

  XV Departure of Elizabeth

  XVI Elizabeth's Return Home

  XVII Elizabeth's Revelation to Jane

  XVIII Lydia's Departure for Brighton

  XIX Beginning of Northern Tour


  I Encounter at Pemberley

  II Visit of Darcy and Bingley

  III Second Visit to Pemberley

  IV News about Lydia

  V Return of the Travelers

  VI The Wait for Further News

  VII Announcement of the Engagement

  VIII Reaction to the Engagement

  IX Lydia's Return

  X Mrs. Gardiner's Letter

  XI Return to Netherfield

  XII Dinner at the Bennets

  XIII Bingley and Jane

  XIV Lady Catherine's Visit

  XV Mr. Bennet Teasing Elizabeth

  XVI Elizabeth and Darcy

  XVII Surprise of the Bennets

  XVIII Discussion of Earlier Events

  XIX Conclusion

  Notes on the Text of the Novel




  Notes to the Reader

  The Annotated Pride and Prejudice contains several features that the reader should be aware of:

  Plot disclosures: a number of annotations allude to later developments in the story, as does the introduction. Such allusions are essential to making a variety of points, but they can spoil the surprise for anyone unfamilar with the story. First-time readers might therefore prefer to read the text of the novel first, and then to read the annotations and introduction.

  Literary interpretations: the comments on the techniques and themes of the novel, more than other types of entries, represent the personal views and interpretations of the editor. Such views have been carefully considered, but nevertheless they will inevitably provoke disagreement among some readers. I can only hope that even in those cases, the opinions expressed provide useful food for thought.

  Differences of meaning: many words then, like many words now, had multiple meanings. The meaning of a word that is given at any particular place is intended only to apply to the way the word is used at that point in the text; it does not represent a complete definition of the word in the language of the time. Thus some words are defined differently at different points, while many words are only defined in certain places, since in other places they are used in ways that remain familiar today.

  Repetitions: this book has been designed so it can be used as a reference. For this reason many entries refer the reader to other pages where more complete information about a topic exists. This, however, is not practical for definitions of words, so definitions of the same word are repeated at each appropriate point, except in cases when such definitions are extremely close together.


  I would first like to thank my mother and my sister and brother-in-law, Mara and Steven Elliott, whose many kind offices have proved invaluable in the preparation of the manuscript and the completion of this project.

  I would also like to thank the citizens of the Republic of Pemberley, who formed one of the inspirations for my decision to embark on the project in the first place, and whose questions and discussions concerning Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice have stimulated my thinking and helped direct me to issues and points in the novel that deserve explanation or commentary.

  Finally, I would like to thank the staff of the Bethlehem Public Library and the New York State Library, who have helped me procure many of the materials essential for my research.


  Pride and Prejudice has always held a special place among Jane Austen's novels. She herself called it “my own darling child” an endearment that goes beyond what she said about any of her other works. It is the work that attained the greatest popularity in her own day, that became known as the quintessential Jane Austen novel as her reputation grew, and that is still her most widely-read book.

  Its roots lie in the writings of Jane Austen's youth. She was born on December 16, 1775 in the English county of Hampshire, just west of London. He
r father, George Austen, was a clergyman, and her mother, Cassandra Leigh Austen, came from a family of landed gentry and clergy. Jane was the seventh of eight children, six of whom were boys. The family was one that valued education highly and loved books, and that always encouraged Jane Austen's own literary efforts, which commenced at thirteen with short, highly comical sketches. As she matured she wrote longer fictional pieces, including unfinished fragments of novels, that reveal her interest in human character. In 1795, at the age of 19, she wrote her first complete novel, Elinor and Marianne (the later Sense and Sensibility). This was followed in 1796-97 by First Impressions (the first version of Pride and Prejudice): it pleased her and her family enough that they sent it to a publisher; he, however, rejected it. No copy of First Impressions exists, so it is impossible to know its exact character, but the generally light-hearted spirit of Pride and Prejudice suggests that First Impressions bore strong traces of the playfulness and high comedy of her early writings. Such elements are certainly prominent in her next writing, Susan (the later Northanger Abbey), composed in 1798-99.

  It would be a number of years, however, before these initial efforts bore fruit in actual published works, including Pride and Prejudice. In 1800 Jane Austen experienced a major disruption in her life when her father retired from his clerical position and moved to the city of Bath. This introduced a less settled period in Jane Austen's life, one that included her father's death in 1805 and further changes of abode and that saw her write less. It was also a period when she turned down her one known offer of marriage; there are hints of other possible lovers in her earlier life, as well as evidence in her letters of interest in men, but nothing that ever led to any serious entanglements. Eventually, in 1809 she, her mother, and her sister moved into a house, owned by her brother Edward, in the small Hampshire town of Chawton. The quiet of her new circumstances allowed Jane Austen to return to her writing with renewed vigor. Her first effort was Sense and Sensibility, crafted from the earlier Elinor and Marianne; it was finished in 1810 and published in the latter part of 1811. She then turned to First Impressions, and during 1811-1812 transformed it into Pride and Prejudice.

  The novel appeared in early 1813 and soon attracted a wide audience, becoming one of the literary sensations of the year. Jane Austen was gratified by this reception, as she was also by the money she earned from the novel, which gave her far more personal wealth than she had ever known. The book earned her the notice of some of the leading literary figures of the day, but she showed little interest in this reward, shying away from publicity and remaining aloof from any literary circles. Instead she devoted her energies to further writings, and in 1814 and 1815 she published Mansfield Park and Emma, both of which attained a degree of success but not that of Pride and Prejudice. Work on another novel, Persuasion, began, but unfortunately in 1816 she became increasingly ill. Although able to finish Persuasion later that year, and even to begin work on a new novel, Sanditon, her worsening physical condition forced her to abandon all her efforts during the spring of 1817. Some researchers have diagnosed her ailment as what is now called Addison's Disease, though this is not certain. On July 18,1817, Jane Austen died. Shortly afterwards Persuasion was published, accompanied by an unpublished earlier novel, Northanger Abbey. Her reputation grew slowly after her death, and during the second half of the nineteenth century she attained, both among critics and the general public, the status of one of the great English novelists, a status she has maintained ever since.

  Pride and Prejudice, like the rest of Jane Austen's writings, has its roots in the novels of the eighteenth century, a time when the novel first emerged as a major literary genre. One of the distinguishing features of this new genre, pointed out by many commentators of the time, was its relative realism: in contrast to the exotic and often fantastical romances of earlier periods, its stories were generally set in the current world, with characters such as one might encounter in daily life and incidents that might happen to ordinary people. Over the course of the century a continuous stream of such stories poured forth from the presses, proving an ideal literary stimulus for Jane Austen. She, like the rest of her family, was an avid reader of novels; throughout her letters she refers frequently to incidents and characters from novels, with the evident expectation that her correspondent will readily catch the reference. These novels influenced her in different ways, providing both positive examples to emulate and negative examples to avoid; in fact, much of her earlier writing involves satires of the various absurdities she perceived in many novels.

  The novelists of the eighteenth century who exercised the greatest influence on Jane Austen were Samuel Richardson and Fanny Burney. Richardson, who wrote in the 1740's and 1750's, was the century's most influential novelist in general, the man whose efforts did more than anyone's to establish the novel as a genre deserving serious aesthetic and moral evaluation. His three novels—Pamela, Clarissa, and Sir Charles Grandison (the last of which was Jane Austen's particular favorite) —are distinguished by a deep insight into the intricacies of human psychology, vividness and realism in the presentation of scenes and dialogue, and an engagement throughout with vital issues of morality. Such qualities are undoubtedly what attracted Jane Austen, whose works display them as well. Fanny Burney wrote in the later decades of the century, producing three novels—Evelina, Cecilia, and Camilla — that provide the closest model for Jane Austen's efforts: they are all generally humorous novels, centering around the romantic tribulations and choices of a young heroine and offering in addition a series of supporting figures who provide both comic relief and a picture of various social and personality types. Jane Austen alludes to Burney's novels often in her letters and draws on elements of them in her own works; in fact, the title of Pride and Prejudice probably derives from a critical passage in Cecilia, whose hero's relationship to the heroine has some affinities with Darcy's relationship to Elizabeth.

  At the same time, Jane Austen departs from these two novelists in crucial ways. Her satirical sketches ridicule the very features that most frequently mar their novels: strong doses of sentimentality and melodrama, overly perfect heroes and heroines, preachi-ness and sententiousness in the exposition of moral points, the use of improbable coincidences and contrivances to advance the plot (a feature especially marked in Fanny Burney), and extreme prolixity (a particular problem for Richardson, whose second and third novels are both over 2000 pages long). Jane Austen attempts to avoid each of these flaws in her own work. Her stories are carefully constructed and reasonably compact. They also maintain a restrained tone throughout, avoiding ardent appeals to the reader's emotions and allowing the moral themes and messages to emerge naturally from the story. Finally, her stories always strive to be true to life: her protagonists, while virtuous, are not super-humanly so, and the actions of the characters fall within the range of normal probability. An ideal of verisimilitude was already an important aspect of the new novel genre, but, as in the cases of Richardson and Burney, many authors' interest in providing drama and excitement or in espousing certain ideals made them, amidst their ostensible stories of real life, introduce people and incidents that would rarely if ever be found in reality. In contrast, Jane Austen shows, both in her novels and in the comments on novel writing in her letters, a consistent commitment to creating stories that, down to the smallest details, correspond to life as it actually occurs.

  The basic situation Jane Austen uses for each of her works allows her to fulfill that demand for realism, while also crafting a plot that gives shape to the novel and keeps the reader's attention. Essentially each of her novels centers around a group of unmarried young men and women, gathered in the same place, who will experience various attractions, rivalries, and misunderstandings before at some point being matched with a suitable partner. The situation is one that, while not found everywhere, is common enough, and it provides many opportunities for plot developments. She further focuses the action by centering attention on one of the young women (except in Sense and Sens
ibility, which has two heroines), and presenting the romantic dilemmas or choices facing this woman. In each case, though a man exists who is ideally suited to her, some barrier impedes the joining of these two until the end of the story. Some have argued that the ubiquity of such a barrier in Jane Austen's plots suggests a belief in the inherent difficulty of establishing a solid love or intimate relationship between two people. But there is no clear hint ofthat in her novels: she presents a number of couples in supporting roles whose love and marriage seem to have been accomplished, sometimes before the novel commences, without any hitches. The more obvious reason why Jane Austen always entangles her main characters in difficulties is the same one that has spurred countless writers of romantic stories not to show the course of true love running smooth —namely, that two lovers who quickly perceive their compatibility and then marry happily provide a dull basis for any but the briefest tale.

  Jane Austen also follows a consistent pattern in the choice of difficulties for her principal lovers. While family quarrels, differences in social background, forces of circumstance, or the machinations of other characters sometimes play a role in impeding her lovers, neither these nor any other external factors determine the story as they do in so many romantic tales. Jane Austen always shows her characters operating with relative freedom: they are subject to certain pressures and restraints, but they are able to make crucial decisions, especially decisions about love and marriage, on their own. This emphasis on freedom stems in part from her realism, for much of the evidence from her own life and letters and the lives of those around her indicates that people of the class she wrote about usually enjoyed a fair degree of liberty in making their marital choices. The emphasis also reflects her strong interest in moral questions. Jane Austen is a writer who consistently judges her characters by a firm set of ethical standards; she is particularly concerned to judge her principal characters, and to explore both the merits or flaws of the actions they take and the motivations behind those actions. To do this it is vital to allow her principals freedom of choice, and thereby to make them ultimately responsible for whatever good or bad they experience. Thus it is always the mistaken choices of either the hero or heroine that create the difficulties they suffer, and these mistakes in turn that shape the main outline of the plot.