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Pride and Prejudice Quotes Showing Imagery

Instructor: Laura Foist

Laura has a Masters of Science in Food Science and Human Nutrition and has taught college Science.

In this lesson we will learn how Jane Austen uses imagery in ''Pride and Prejudice''. We will examine specific quotes in ''Pride and Prejudice'' that show imagery.

Abstract and Specific Imagery

When we speak to each other, we don't typically explain what things look like in detail. We may say 'her home was beautiful' or 'he looks comfortable.' We tend to use abstract images. We tend to only describe a person or place in detail when it has made an big impact on us. If a girl describes a guy she really likes to her friends, she may mention every little detail, from the color of his eyes to the freckle on his left cheek. Like this girl, we tend to want those with whom we are speaking to feel the same effect.

Jane Austen does this same thing in Pride and Prejudice. Most of the imagery in Pride and Prejudice is very abstract. We never know what the Bennet home looks like or even Netherfield Park. We get abstract descriptions of the characters but never exact descriptions. The exception to this is when Elizabeth visits Pemberley. Pemberley has a huge impact on Elizabeth, so it is described in detail.

Descriptions of People in Pride and Prejudice

Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy

From the novel, we learn that ''Mr. Bingley was good-looking and gentlemanlike; he had a pleasant countenance, and easy, unaffected manners' and ''his sisters were fine women, with an air of decided fashion.'' Neither of these explanations tells us how tall Mr. Bingley and his sisters are or what color hair they have. Yet when each of us thinks of a 'good-looking and gentlemanlike' person, we picture someone who is good-looking to us, someone who dresses like a gentleman. To each person this image will probably be slightly different, which is what makes it abstract.

We learn slightly more of Mr. Darcy in that he drew attention ''by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien.'' There are other characters whose appearance is described in conversations only. We learn that, according to Mr. Darcy, Jane is ''the only handsome girl in the room'' and according to Mr. Bingley ''she is the most beautiful creature [he] ever beheld.''

Elizabeth overhears Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley
Not to tempt me

Elizabeth Bennet

Austen's description of Elizabeth primarily revolves around her eyes. Mr. Darcy mentions her ''fine eyes'' to Miss Bingley. When Elizabeth comes to care for her sister at Netherfield Park, Mr. Darcy says that her eyes ''were brightened by the exercise.'' This is one of the few early signs that Mr. Darcy cares for Elizabeth. We don't ever receive an explanation for what Elizabeth looks like, yet we can picture her bright eyes that impressed Mr. Darcy.

Images of Places in Pride and Prejudice

Rosings

We receive very little description of any location in Pride and Prejudice. Mr. Collins compares Mrs. Phillips' apartment to the 'small summer breakfast parlour at Rosings.' We learn that Rosings is grand indeed by his comment that 'the chimney-piece alone had cost eight hundred pounds.' When Elizabeth visits Rosings, we learn of the entrance hall's 'fine proportion and finished ornaments.' Elizabeth is not so impressed by Rosings, despite its grandeur.

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