Laughter In Pride And Prejudice Analysis

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In “Laughing at Mr. Darcy: Wit & Sexuality in Pride & Prejudice”, Elvira Casal celebrates Elizabeth Bennet’s laughter. Casal justly describes how Elizabeth’s laughter in the novel equates to flirtation and eroticism. However, if flirtation and eroticism were the only significance for the role of laughter in the novel, the status of Elizabeth Bennet would then be reduced from being Austen’s heroine of Pride and Prejudice to being a sex object. Elizabeth’s laughter is different: it creates a sense of breaking off relations with others. Elizabeth’s laughter also represents her autonomy as an individual; whereas most characters in the novel laugh in a way that evinces their dependency on others, Elizabeth’s laughs evince her independence.
In Regency-era
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As a result of her observations, Elizabeth makes a choice to laugh “independently”, meaning that Elizabeth laughs for herself, and for her purposes and reasons alone. There are two important scenes in Pride and Prejudice where Elizabeth expresses this “independent” laugh. At the end of chapter 10, when Caroline Bingley and Mrs. Hurst try to disregard Elizabeth in their walk with Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth opposes their plan with a laugh and states: “No, no; stay where you are. -- You are charmingly group 'd, and appear to uncommon advantage. The picturesque would be spoilt by admitting a fourth. Good bye” (Austen 39). She then proceeds with a lively exit. Elizabeth laughs in this way again in chapter 60 where she writes her letter to Mrs. Gardiner and concludes: “I am the happiest creature in the world. Perhaps other people have said so before, but not with such justice. I am happier even than Jane; she only smiles, I laugh” (Austen 262). The laughter expressed in both scenes is Austen’s way of allowing Elizabeth to create autonomy. From chapter 10, Elizabeth’s laugh represents her freedom from being undermined by the rudeness of characters like Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst, who are restricted by social etiquette to laugh like Elizabeth. The laugh in chapter 60 represents the result of her persistence to continue to remain her own individual, which allows Elizabeth to be able to achieve true happiness and in the end of Pride and Prejudice because she successfully rebelled against society without sacrificing her own person. Austen’s emphasis on laughter in these two particular scenes would imply that Elizabeth is an intelligent woman who persistently laughs to remain separate from society, but remain as an independent and open-minded individual within

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