Friendships in "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen

Jane Austen describes several friendships in "Pride and Prejudice," each of a different sort. Friendship is represented as fickle, deep and abiding and as allowing for love and respect, so long as the other is living by your standards. In other words, friendship in "Pride and Prejudice" is represented much as it is in real life.

One of the first friendships a reader comes across in "Pride and Prejudice" is that of Mrs. Bennet and Lady Lucas. The two women get together frequently to gossip. However, Mrs. Bennet seems much more inclined to petty gossip than Lady Lucas. Lady Lucas appears to be a much more levelheaded individual than Mrs. Bennet is, though Mrs. Bennet does frequently express suspicion that Lady Lucas is trying to one up her in some way or another. This is a sort of fickle and petty, yet constant friendship. All of the negative aspects of this friendship come from Mrs. Bennet's behavior, from the reader's perspective.

The next friendship to be mentioned in "Pride and Prejudice" is that of Elizabeth Bennet and Lady Lucas' daughter, Charlotte. The two young women are like-minded confidantes. However, their standing in life and their take on love and marriage is quite different. The friendship appears to be based on a degree of love and respect. Unfortunately, one of Elizabeth's only truly blameworthy actions in the novel is directed at Charlotte. She feels as if her friendship with Charlotte must be over when Charlotte marries a man of whom she disapproves. It is a shallow and selfish feeling and Elizabeth eventually overcomes it.

The third, and last, of the main friendships in "Pride and Prejudice" is the most influential of all of them. This is the friendship between Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley. The roots and reasons for their relationship are not discussed in Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice." However, the nature of their friendship is discussed on several occasions. These two men are of different, but complementary, temperaments. Mr. Darcy is proud, assertive, calculating and judgmental. Mr. Bingley is carefree, kind, giving and understanding. Mr. Darcy takes it upon himself to 'look out for' Mr. Bingley and winds up endangering Mr. Bingley's relationship. However, these issues are ironed out in the end and the pair's friendship does not suffer for it.

There are few other friendships mentioned in Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice." For the most part, everyone is 'friendly' with everyone else, but this seems to take place due to societal expectations of the day. There is no indication that Jane was attempting to present any of these passing 'friendships' as anything deeper than that. In fact, some were laced with underlying scorn or ignorance.

Shelly Barclay

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