Pride and Prejudice Essay: The Function Of Dance

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The Function Of Dance in Pride And Prejudice In Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice, set in the Regency Period, dance performs several important functions. Dance patterns emulate courtship rituals, marking dance as a microcosm for courtship and marriage - two main themes of the novel. The Regency period propagated the belief that no ingredient was more essential to a courtship than dancing: "To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love..." (Austen 7). Therefore, knowledge of dance - dance steps as well as dance etiquette - was a crucial necessity and was often acquired through study and awareness of conduct codes. These crucial codes were disseminated through popular courtesy/conduct books, which…show more content…
Some examples of negative manifestations of character include Lydia and Kitty Bennet and Mr. Collins. Lydia and Kitty exhibit an extreme irreverence and total lack of societal understanding; from their shameless soldier-chasing to Lydia's scandalous affair with Wickham, these two exemplify social behaviors to be avoided. They reveal their weak natures on the dance floor through excessive giggling, cavorting, and tipsiness. Mr. Collins's behavior marks him as a comic figure. During the first two dances at Netherfield, Mr. Collins reveals his character in a way contrary to his own self-perception. As Elizabeth, his partner for those dances, recalls: . . . they were dances of mortification. Mr. Collins, awkward and solemn, apologising instead of attending, and often moving wrong without being aware of it, gave her all the shame and misery which a disagreeable partner for a couple of dances can give. The moment of her release from him was exstacy. (Austen 61) It is important to note, however, that aberration from accepted societal norms did not always result in negative associations. Ironically, Austen's heroes and heroines, such as Elizabeth and Darcy, establish themselves as the protagonists through their blatant disregard for courtesy
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