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Pride and Prejudice Irony Quotes

My reasons for marrying are, first, that I think it a right thing for every clergyman in easy circumstances (like myself) to set the example of matrimony in his parish; secondly, that I am convinced that it will add very greatly to my happiness; and thirdly – which perhaps I ought to have mentioned earlier, that it is the particular advice and recommendation of the very noble lady whom I have the honour of calling patroness…she said, "Mr. Collins, you must marry. A clergyman like you must marry. Choose properly, choose a gentlewoman for my sake; and for your own, let her be an active, useful sort of person, not brought up high, but able to make a small income go a good way"…But the fact is, that being, as I am, to inherit this estate after the death of your honoured father (who, however, may live many years longer), I could not satisfy myself without resolving to choose a wife from among his daughters, that the loss to them might be as little as possible, when the melancholy event takes place – which, however, as I have already said, may not be for several years. This has been my motive, my fair cousin, and I flatter myself it will not sink me in your esteem. And now nothing remains for me but to assure you in the most animated language of the violence of my affection.

– Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 19. Mr. Collins’s lack of self-awareness is astonishing as he corners an obviously uninterested Elizabeth to propose. Setting out his reasons for wanting to marry her, there is not one mention of love and it is mostly about why it would be good for him. He believes that he should marry because it sets a good example for a clergyman, it will add to his happiness, and Lady Catherine de Bourgh has told him to marry a "useful sort of person…able to make a small income go a good way." For good measure he also mentions that since he is to inherit Mr. Bennet’s estate, he would like to minimize the family’s loss by marrying one of his daughters. Finally with great irony he laughably assures Elizabeth of his "violence of my affection" for her. Austen is mocking Mr. Collins here. She is using him as a satirical figure to comment on loveless marriages, where people wed for all kinds of ridiculous reasons other than love.

"In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you." Elizabeth’s astonishment was beyond expression. She stared, coloured, doubted, and was silent. This he considered sufficient encouragement, and the avowal of all that he felt and had long felt for her, immediately followed. He spoke well, but there were feelings besides those of the heart to be detailed, and he was not more eloquent on the subject of tenderness than of pride. His sense of her inferiority – of its being a degradation – of the family obstacles which judgment had always opposed to inclination, were dwelt on with a warmth which seemed due to the consequence he was wounding, but was very unlikely to recommend his suit.

– Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 34. Mr. Darcy arrives at the Hunsford parsonage to make his first proposal of marriage to Elizabeth. While he is frank and honest and open, he goes about it in a clumsy and unromantic way. He speaks of how he has struggled to repress his feelings for Elizabeth, her inferior social rank and the family obstacles to such a union. But despite Elizabeth’s inferiority, he manages to declare his strong admiration and love for her. Elizabeth is absolutely shocked by the proposal, especially as she finds Darcy less "eloquent on the subject of tenderness than of pride." Darcy’s proposal seems to be more about himself than about the woman he says he loves and admires. One might say that his presentation leaves a lot to be desired. This is an example of situational irony, because Darcy proposes at the precise moment when Elizabeth hates him the most.

I feel myself called upon, by our relationship, and my situation in life, to condole with you on the grievous affliction you are now suffering under…No arguments shall be wanting on my part, that can alleviate so severe a misfortune – or that may comfort you, under a circumstance that must be, of all others, most afflicting to a parent’s mind. The death of your daughter would have been a blessing in comparison of this. And it is the more to be lamented, because there is reason to suppose, as my dear Charlotte informs me, that this licentiousness of behaviour in your daughter, has proceeded from a faulty degree of indulgence, though, at the same time, for the consolation of yourself and Mrs. Bennet, I am inclined to think that her own disposition must be naturally bad, or she could not be guilty of such an enormity, at so early an age…Let me advise you then, my dear Sir, to console yourself as much as possible, to throw off your unworthy child from your affection for ever, and leave her to reap the fruits of her own heinous offence.

– Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 48. Clergymen console members of their flock who are in pain or difficulty in different ways. But Mr. Collins’s style is the most unique and strangest of all. On the matter of Lydia’s elopement and promiscuous behavior, he writes to Mr. Bennet to "condole" with him on his "grevious affliction." Then he suggests that the death of his daughter would have been a blessing in comparison with this. He goes on to insult the family, criticizing the parents for their bad parenting by indulging Lydia. Then he advises Mr. Bennet to disown his daughter. Austen is satirizing Collins here and being wickedly ironic. The irony is in the fact that it is supposed to be a consolation letter, but most of it is spent attacking the Bennet family.

Well! I am so happy! In a short time I shall have a daughter married. Mrs. Wickham! – how well it sounds! And she was only sixteen last June.

– Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 49. After her previous regrets and lamentations about Lydia’s elopement and hurling invectives against the "villainous" Wickham, Mrs. Bennet is now in raptures over her daughter marrying him. Mrs. Bennet flip flops a lot between ecstacy over her schemes to get husbands for her daughters and lamentations about her personal suffering when these don’t work. After receiving her brother Mr. Gardiner’s letter that Lydia is to be wed to Wickham and her reputation saved, Mrs. Bennet suddenly reverses her opinion on the character of the fortune-hunting Wickham. Now he is fit to be her son-in-law. Here again the shallow, foolish, tiresome and vacuous Mrs. Bennet makes us laugh – but at her! The passage is another example of Austen’s fine use of ironic humor. Mr. Gardiner’s letter explains that Wickham will wed Lydia if Mr. Bennet pays Wickham a small sum of money annually to Wickham – the Bennets suspect that Mr. Gardiner has also already paid Wickham a good deal. The fuller quote of Mrs. Bennet’s reaction to this news from her brother: "It is all very right; who should do it but her own uncle? If he had not had a family of his own, I and my children must have had all his money, you know; and it is the first time we have ever had anything from him, except a few presents. Well! I am so happy! In a short time I shall have a daughter married. Mrs. Wickham! How well it sounds!"