JANE AUSTEN: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
Topics for Final Paper
You have a choice of which topic to write about in your final paper. Select one of the topics below and write a four to five page, typed essay, which you should submit to your mentor by the end of Week 12 of the semester.
Discuss the ways in which Jane Austen uses caricature to ridicule or point out the faults of a rigid class system portrayed in Pride and Prejudice. Extend your explanation of these characters’ personalities and goals to those of one or two of today’s politicians. Are there parallels between Mr. Darcy, for example, and members of the Congress or Legislature? Explain your answer.
Austen’s use of irony in her novel offers important insights to her attitude about life through the experiences of her characters. What does Austen have to say about women, class mobility, and marriage based in the experiences of Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice? What did Elizabeth Bennet experience and what lessons did she “learn”? Can any of those lessons be applied to the experiences of women today? Why or why not?
The rigid class system of Jane Austen’s world obligated women to marry if they wished to improve their status in life. Yet the experiences of women such as Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice showed that the marriage and the prospect of marriage had its downsides as well. Who or what is really to blame in Mrs. Bennet’s marriage? Remember to find and mention appropriate chapters from the novel.
Developing and Writing Your Final Paper
Writing Your Paper: An Introduction
This course requires that you write a four-to-five page, double spaced, typed, final paper which will be in essay form. Writing an essay of this nature takes some time and effort, which is especially true in writing an English literature essay. You will find the following information helpful when planning, organizing, and writing your paper.
You should choose one of three different topics to write about. These topics can be found by using your “Back” button and clicking on the link Topics for Your Final Paper.
Specific writing guidelines accompany each topic.
As you carefully read each novel, write down any thoughts or questions you have about marriage, class, women, or money. Reading the Study Guide and taking notes on important points can also be a helpful preliminary step.
Reading and Understanding the Topic Guidelines
After you have selected the topic you want to write about read the guidelines carefully to make sure that you understand them. What is the topic about? What do the guidelines ask you to do? Underlining the key words, such as “discuss,” “compare,” and “analyze” will help you answer these questions
Making Your Point
A good way to begin your paper is by making a scratch outline. Write down your main argument (thesis statement) and list your supporting arguments beneath it. Make sure that each point logically follows the other and that each point supports your paper’s thesis. As you compose your outline, allow enough space between supporting arguments to list supporting details. Consider writing down appropriate textual evidence from Austen’s novels and the page numbers on which that evidence is found.
Outlining Your Paper
A good way to begin your paper is by making a scratch outline. That is, write your point on paper or the computer and list your key points directly underneath. Check to see that each point logically follows the other and supports your paper’s main point. As you work, remember to allow enough space in between for supporting details. Consider including a list of appropriate details beneath each key point, with accompanying page numbers in parentheses.
Writing the First Draft of Your Paper
Once you have composed your outline, you will be ready to write the first draft of your essay. Remember the traditional three-part model of composition when you write: introduction, body, and conclusion.
Your introduction should contain your thesis statement and outline the major points you will develop to support that thesis.
In the body of your paper, you develop each of your supporting arguments, using examples from Austen’s texts to support your ideas. Remember to place quotations marks around any of Austen’s passages, and remember to cite the page numbers (in parentheses) on which those passages are found.
Your conclusion should summarize the main points of your argument, but try to avoid using the same words you have used throughout the paper. Consider this part of your paper as a way to highlight the essay’s strengths. Also consider leaving the reader (your mentor) with a new thought or two, perhaps offering some suggestions about why Austen did some of the things she did as an author.
As you write, periodically check your work against the topic guidelines to make sure you are addressing each aspect of the assignment. It is surprisingly easy to focus on one or more minor details and wander from your paper’s thesis.
Try to develop only one central idea per paragraph. Also, use transitional phrases at the beginning of new paragraphs. Using such simple phrases as “another reason” at the beginning of a paragraph signals to your mentor that your are moving from one point to another. The less your mentor has to “work” to read your paper, the better off you will be.
Finally, remember to consider opposing points of view as you write your essay. Acknowledging possible objections to your arguments demonstrates that you have a thorough understanding of the material and have thought critically about your ideas. Don’t do much more than simply acknowledge possible objections, however, and don’t worry about addressing opposing viewpoints for every point you make. Mention only the most glaring objections. Spending too much time developing opposing points of view can undermine the effectiveness of your own argument.
Editing and Revising Your Paper
Editing and revising the first draft of your essay will be easier if you distance yourself from it for a day or two. When you read it again, you will be more able to identify subtle errors. You might also notice sentences or perhaps even paragraphs that do little or nothing to support your argument. Don’t be afraid to omit them.
Below are some additional revision strategies:
- Evaluate the overall organization of the essay. Does your paper flow logically from beginning to end? Does each paragraph flow smoothly from one to the next? Consider outlining the rough draft, asking yourself what you have said in each paragraph.
- Evaluate your use of evidence. Have you supported your claims completely and logically? Did you provide evidence such as quotes, followed by brief explanations that establish a connection to your main point?
- Evaluate your documentation. Have you integrated and cited sources properly? Have you used quotation marks around Austen’s passages? Have you cited the page number(s) on which those passages are found?
- Evaluate the mechanics of your paper. Have you proofread for spelling and grammatical errors?
Include a Bibliography
Your reader (mentor) might be interested in exploring one or more aspects of your topic and, consequently, wish to consult your sources(s). For this and other reasons, you should prepare a bibliography of your primary and secondary sources. List them in alphabetical order in the correct format.
Caricature in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen uses caricature in Pride and Prejudice extensively. In the application of the elements of satire in the development of her characters, Austen employs caricature to outline different attitudes, issues and folly in the society. The author often exaggerates absurd human behavior and integrates different literary devices to develop her characters and convey serious societal issues in an entertaining and understandable way. The application of caricature through characters such as Mr. Collins, Mr. Wickham, Lady Catherine and Mr. Darcy enhance the plot, characterization and most importantly, ridicule and outline the faults of the rigid class system. Austen satirizes the class-consciousness of Mr. Darcy and Mr. Collins through caricature to identify the challenges that exist in a society with a significant social class gap. Using the character of Mr. Darcy and the element of caricature, a critical analysis identifies the parallels between the upper class in Austen’s society with the current political class.
Through characters of Mr. Darcy and Mr. Collins
and the Bennets, Austen outlines the inferiority of the middle class and the
contempt they experience in the face of the upper-class. The author uses
caricature to point out the contempt Mr. Darcy holds the middle class and his
sense of social-superiority, which often offends people. As Wickham points out,
“his pride never deserts him; but with the rich, he is liberal-minded, just,
sincere, rational, honorable, and perhaps agreeable” (Austen, 1853,
The author uses the character of Darcy to show the upper class’ lack of concern
for the middle and precariat classes. Additionally, she utilizes caricature is
outlining the folly of the upper class. For instance, though Mr. Darcy
evidently holds Mr. Collins with contempt, he never realizes. Also, the author,
through Elizabeth, paints Collins as “a conceited, pompous, narrow-minded, silly man” (Austen, 1853, p. 119). There is a direct
parallelism between the upper class in Austen’s and the current Congress. Both
do not mind about the precariat or less privileged as evident in the social and
economic inequalities that continue to influence life as class continues to
fuel inequalities in access to education, healthcare and life opportunities. The
Congress continues to further the social class gap by failing to pass laws and
develop policies that bridge the gap (Hayes, 2013, p. 17).
Austen, J., 1853. Pride and Prejudice. Massachussetts: Lenox Library.