Irony in 'Pride and Prejudice': How the diverse material are welded into a coherent whole by Austen?

Jane Austen was a moralist of eighteenth century who had escaped the infection of sensibility and sentimentalities. The attainment of self Knowledge on the part of the heroin is always part of Austen's theme. Irony is her weapon for display and developing distends.

In Pride and Prejudice irony of every kind prevails. The great deal of the humour and artistic effect of the novel is to be found in its delicious irony. The opening sentence of the novel is ironical. “It is a truth universally of a good fortune must be in want of a wife ". The irony is made clear what follows immediately. It refers to Mr. Brinkley’s arrival in the neighbour hard of Bennet and a few other families with other marriageable girls. The conversation between Mr. and Mrs. Bannet is full of irony. The wooing of Elizabeth by Collins provokes laughter and totally ironical.

Irony is deeply involved in the very structure of the novel. The central situation of the plot exposes how the hero and heroine progress from mutual dislike to love and marriage. The pride and prejudice that built up barrier between Elizabeth and Darcy proved to be ironic illusion at the end. Irony is implicit in the style of Austen's novel.

In depicting the progress of the romance between Darcy and Elizabeth the novelist shows us a fundamental ironic element in life. Elizabeth in spite of her skill in studying characters can not judge Darcy rightly; party from accident and partly from an unconscious fear of falling to in love with him. It is an accident that she overhears Darcy's reference to her as tolerable but not tempting to him. Her readiness to believe Wickham's slanders against Darcy and her failure to understand Wickham both seen to spring from her unwillingness to allow her feelings to be involved with Darcy. Darcy also misjudges her intelligence and beauty Later when marks his first proposal his assessment of her character is inadequate. Elizabeth's unexpected refusal shocks him into self discovery. Thus the theme of pride and prejudice is basically ironic. It underlines the conflict between feeling and intelligence the contrast between illusions and reality. In the ultimate analysis the pride of Darcy and prejudice become illusion. As a matter of fact labour under misapprehension. Irony profuse the novel.

A. W. Wright points out another element in the rich texture irony in the novel. Elizabeth and Darcy are constructed with Jane and Bingley. This contrast searches the ironical situation to the novel. Not only this Austen uses a number of elaborate epithet which are quite ironical as --------- " your honoured father " or " the melancholy event "

Dorothy van Ghent coins out a number of words an the novel which show mercantile and materialistic theme as well as ironic hints of the novel -- “venture, capital, manner, marriage etc. The language base of the Austen novel gives us limiting conditions of culture. Thus Pride and Prejudice is an entertaining novel because of his irony which manifests at different labels. It is ironical in theme and structure and in words and expressions.