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Home » , » The work is rather too light, bright and sparkling: it wants shade". How far do you agree with this comment of Jane Austen on her novel, Pride and Prejudice?
Pride and Prejudice is often considered Jane Austen's most brilliant work. The wit in it sparkles. But Jane Austen herself thought that it needed more relief, more shade.
Jane Austen
Jane Austen

A Serious Comedy  

However, though much of the novel is a record of balls, parties and drawing room chats, one must not miss the real point of the novel. Pride and Prejudice may be considered on three levels of meaning. First, it illustrates country life in upper middle class in 18th century. Secondly, it may be taken as a broad allegory in which pride, prejudice and other virtues and vices of character are set forth in a narrative. Thirdly, it may be read on an ironic level. If a novel has so many interpretations, it is wrong to think that it is merely bright and sparkling. The incidents, situations and characters imply something beyond what they mean. They are symbolical rather than allegorical. Hence Pride and Prejudice is a serious comedy, " grave comedy " as C. S. Lewis calls it.  

Pride and Prejudice expresses Jane Austen's delight in life and a love for comedy. The novel takes the reader to an abstract idea ------ the idea of pride in one character and prejudice in another. The characters of the novel show different kinds of humour, various sorts of human behaviour. Mr. Bennet is a cynic; Lydia is a flippant irresponsible girl, Mary a pedant; Darcy is a proud character; Collins is a combination of conceit and servility. Sir William Lucas is a feeble dullard and so on. If the characters of the novel have so much of range and variety it is wrong to say that they lack shade. There are moments of despair and dejection in Longbourn House, when Bingley and Darcy leave Netherfield. There is a temporary spell of gloom over Longbourn. The refusal of Collins's proposal by Elizabeth and later on Wickham's elopement with Lydia are most upsetting episodes in the story. The brightness and sparkle of Longbourn is frequently shaded by gloom and discontent.  

Pride and Prejudice is concerned with the study of human behaviour. While studying her characters, their moods, thoughts, half thoughts and reflexes have been interpreted in a psychological manner. Characters have been contrasted from the very beginning. Darcy and Bingley are contrasts. Bingley is amiable and unaffected, Darcy is tall and handsome but proud. Jane is faultlessly beautiful and good but lacks discrimination, in Elizabeth there is "more than one failure of perfect symmetry." It is these subtle touches of characterisation that make Pride and prejudice something more than a light comedy. In Pride and Prejudice the characters and incidents have been do contrived as to make the entire atmosphere of the novel realistic, practical and anti-romantic. 

What makes Pride and Prejudice superior to other novels is the element of irony. Irony here is an instrument of moral vision and this is what makes the limited world of Longbourn and Pemberley universal. It has a subtle meaning and it is not right to say that it lacks profundity.

Thus, we find that in Pride and Prejudice there are moments of despair and gloom as well as touches of seriousness and profoundity and it is not altogether a light, bright and sparkling comedy.

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