Pride and Prejudice

The Community Made Me Do It

It is a truth universally acknowledged: an individual who wishes to belong is inevitably influenced by his or her community. The extent to which the village actually raises the child is the crux of William Deresiewicz's argument in his critical analysis of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, entitled "Community and Cognition in Pride and Prejudice." According to Deresiewicz, the community serves as an actual character within the novel. It has its own expectations, conventions, and activities; in essence, the community is the impetus that drives the plot. Furthermore, because the community is the stimulus, the way in which it thinks, talks, and exerts influence over the characters actually drives the plot, therefore creating the plight of the novel's heroine. This community, however, is admittedly imperfect; the plot thus serves as constructive criticism, enabling Austen to contrast the community in the novel with her idealized community. To better understand the developments of the human characters in the novel, the community's personality and idiosyncrasies must first be understood.

According to Deresiewicz, the community not only dictates conventional social activities and behavioral norms, but also...

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