Pride and Prejudice

Realism and Romanticism in Pride and Prejudice College

In Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen demonstrates a flexibility of genre in which realism and romanticism are balanced through the novel’s socioeconomic accuracy and the characterization of Mr. Darcy, along with Elizabeth Bennet’s idealistic approach toward marriage. Austen successfully justifies this duality by depicting Elizabeth’s social mobility within the confines of the British Regency’s stringent class hierarchy. Although romanticism and realism are the primary genres of Pride and Prejudice, the flexibility of genre goes further, incorporating elements of Gothic literature. Critics have argued over the genre of Austen’s novels. To William Dean Howells, her writing exemplifies literary realism, which he considers superior romanticism. In “Novel Writing and Novel Reading,” Howells argues that it is “only the false in art that is ugly” and categorizes authors as either “truthful” or “untruthful.” Yet he leaves no room for the fluidity of Austen’s genre, which is indeed a major source of interest in the narrative as a whole. Regardless, Pride and Prejudice includes the basic attributes of literary realism. No element of fantasy is present, with the characters finding themselves in realistic situations. The social class of...

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