Wiesenfarth, Joseph. “The Plot of Pride and Prejudice.” The Errand of Form: An Assay of Jane Austen’s Art. New York: Fordham University Press, 1967. 60-85. Rpt in Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism. Ed. Russel Whitaker. Vol. 150. Detroit: Gale, 2005. 60-85. Literature Resources from Gale. Gale. Florence City Schools (AVL). 2. Dec. 2008 .
Joseph Wiesenfarth begins the essay by stating that Pride and Prejudice is “too elegantly dressed in a strait jacket of form.” He also goes on to say that Mr. Darcy is a very inconsistent character and that his letter has caused some difference of opinions between people. He disagrees with Reuben Brower’s view of the novel and if it is seen in Brower’s light, it would be considered nothing less than a classic. He also says that Brower’s analysis of the situation is not exact and provides an example from the book clarifying his reason for disagreeing with Brower.
Wiesenfarth then begins to discuss irony and its effect on the character’s personal development. He says “The norm of personal development through perception, understand, and affection is developed by a symmetry of plot that involves a series of actions which are dramatically ironic. The plot of Pride and Prejudice builds to a statement of problems that arise through verbal ambiguity.” He provides the example of when Darcy first proposed to Elizabeth at Hunsford and explains how that situation led them to understand each other completely.
The next section talks about the first thirty-three chapters and how they led up to the moment previously discussed. The author gives a clear explanation of the organization of the chapters, what happens in each section, and how they helped contribute to the moment of conflict. He then asserts that only when the problems have been solved is when the book can end. He says, “It is a great triumph of form that one finds in the second half of Pride and Prejudice, and it is one of the great delights of reading Pride and Prejudice...