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AP Literature and Composition Paper: "Thoughtful Laughter", Pride and Prejudice


bakamanju 3 / 14  
Jan 6, 2011   #1
Role of Comedy in Marriage
W.L Courtney, a distinguished editor, stated that "thoughtful laughter is an inner experience-a sort of internal chuckle-which does not display external manifestations. It is the enjoyment of the intellect when situations or characters or sometimes, phrases strike one as happy exhibitions of humor." Jane Austen emphasizes the idea of "thoughtful laugher" in her novel, Pride and Prejudice, through the relationship of Elizabeth and Darcy. "Thoughtful laughter" is notable in Austen's use of the misunderstandings between the characters. These drive the two further apart until the two realize their mistakes were based on pride and prejudice.

The initial conflicted relationship between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy begins at the Netherfield ball. After Mr. Bingley introduces Elizabeth to Mr. Darcy, he later coldly states to Bingley how Elizabeth is only "tolerable... but not enough to tempt me" (Austen, 8). Elizabeth overhears his comment and is not surprisingly angered. Elizabeth concludes that Mr. Darcy is "only the man who made himself agreeable nowhere" (18). She further assumes that Mr. Darcy is a cold person while in fact he is shy and uncomfortable around others. After the ball in Netherfield, Miss Bingley begins a conversation with Mr. Darcy and asks Elizabeth to join in a playful game to find a defect in Mr. Darcy's character. Elizabeth concludes that Mr. Darcy's "defect is a propensity to hate everyone" (49). Mr. Darcy, on the other hand, rebuts her comment stating that she "is willfully to misunderstand" who he really is (49). Elizabeth bases her faulty conclusion on her experience with Mr. Darcy at Netherfield when he showed no interest to talk to her. Her comment leads Mr. Darcy to conclude that Elizabeth misunderstood his actions. Both characters make incorrect judgments about the other because they believe their pride and prejudice blind them to each other's true character. This brings forth "thoughtful laughter" on the part of the readers because they know the characters are making mistaken judgments.

After the events at Netherfield, Mr. Wickham misleads Elizabeth to believe that Mr. Darcy and his family ruined Mr. Wickham's social standing. Mr. Wickham made false claims about Mr. Darcy's father not leaving part of the Pemberley estate or monetary benefits for his gambling habits. Therefore, Elizabeth believes Mr. Wickham and accuses Mr. Darcy of false charges. Mr. Darcy defends himself in a letter about how Mr. Wickham sprouted the rumors. After Elizabeth receives Mr. Darcy's letter does she begin to understand that she has erred. Consequently, Elizabeth and the Gardiners arrived in Pemberley, Mr. Darcy's home estate. Elizabeth told the Gardiners that she has no reason to go to Pemberley, but Elizabeth comments about her new feelings toward Mr. Darcy when she sees the estate: "I might have been mistress!" (212). Elizabeth comes to realize that if she did not misjudge Mr. Darcy's character, then she could have lived a happy life in Pemberley. Elizabeth begins to see her mistake on Mr. Darcy's character. She contemplates about her mistake during a walk with the Gardiners: "Elizabeth felt that they had entirely mistaken his character, but said nothing" (219). Elizabeth surmises that Mr. Darcy is nowhere close to disagreeable as described by Mr. Wickham. Elizabeth understands that she has wronged Mr. Darcy, and Mr. Darcy realizes that he misjudged Elizabeth. As a result, the relationship between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy begins to foster from the misunderstandings. The meeting at Pemberley and Mr. Darcy's letter show a contrast to their first encounter in Netherfield. This contrast allows the reader to connect "thoughtful laughter" to Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy as they discern and understand each other's errs.

The true meaning of "thoughtful laughter" is different because it does not come from an "external manifestation" but rather a way to express idea through humor. Jane Austen puts Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy in a situation where one makes a faulty judgment about the other. The reader "laughs" as Jane Austen describes the how Elizabeth and Darcy faced challenges that came about from these misunderstandings. However, they came to a conclusion that resulted in a happy relationship when realizing the errors in their decisions. Austen's use of "thoughtful laughter" helped convey the idea that humor through misunderstandings can allow for happiness to be achieved in a relationship.

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I just need some advice on how to fix this essay up... The prompt is "thoughtful laughter" and I don't think my argument is solid at all... This is an overdue essay that I need to turn in soon, but I really am struggling in the class and need some more advice from other people. Please let me know anything! Thank you in advance!
EF_Susan - / 2,364 12  
Jan 8, 2011   #2
Elizabeth overhears his comment and is surprisingly, not angered.

Both characters make incorrect judgments about the other because they believe their pride and prejudice blind them ...Do THEY believe this, or is it conveyed in the story? I don't know the story, but it sounds odd. :)

This brings forth "thoughtful laughter" on the part of the readers because they know the characters are mistaken in their judgments .

After the events at Netherfield, Mr. Wickham misleads Elizabeth to make her believe that Mr. Darcy and his family ruined Mr. Wickham's social standing.

Only after Elizabeth receives Mr. Darcy's letter does she begin to understand that she has erred.

Elizabeth begins to see her mistake conncerning Mr. Darcy's character.

She contemplates about her mistake during a walk...

The true meaning of "thoughtful laughter" is different because it does not come from an "external manifestation" but rather a way to express idea through humor.---and also irony!

I think you did a fine job with your essay, and it was a good idea to explain 'thoughtful laughter' again at the end. Hope all goes well for you with it!


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