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reputation essay plan

Planning Part b) Essays
Question: Explain the importance of reputation in the novel.
In your answer you must consider:
 how reputation is shown
 why reputation is important.
Synonyms for ‘reputation’: popularity, judgement, regard, honesty/dishonesty
Antonym for ‘reputation’: disgrace, disreputableness, unimportance
The fragility of reputation is explored by Austen through the use of epistolary form, and social
conflict, as we understand the fear of a tarnished reputation heavily dictated life in Regency
Key point 1
Key point 2
Key point 3
Conclusion: What is Austen
saying about the theme?
The fragility of reputation is explored as social conflict between characters, break falsely
established and misleading reputations.
portrayed through revelation of character, and especially through epistolary form we
discover that, as readers, we have developed a prejudiced perception of Darcy’s
Our evolved impression of Darcy in chapter 36 is focalised through the changing eyes of
Elizabeth Bennet, enabling us to understand the depth of reputation within the novel.
Darcy’s initial ‘proud’ manner is contradicted through epistolary form, as it ‘pains him to
offend’ Lizzie, a vast opposition to his insulting and insolent manner, he originally
radiated, explaining Lizzie was ‘not handsome enough to tempt’ him.
This extreme contrast between our first view of Darcy, compared to our most recent
view of him, enables us to see how easily reputation can be mistaken, and reverses our
Not only does this emphasise the importance of reputation, it also suggests Jane Austen
is providing us with an underlying message, implying reputations are not fixed, and
moreover not accurate; therefore we should not be prejudiced. This ideology also
creates a link between pride and reputation, which further accentuates the importance
it holds in creating parallels in the novel, deepening the significance of the theme itself.
The significance of reputation is evidently portrayed amongst the chaos of Lydia’s
elopement, as the Bennett’s encounter the fear of further degrading their reputation.
The importance of reputation is key in this situation, as Lydia’s destructive actions create
an element of embarrassment within the Bennett family, ‘bringing misery on them all’,
presenting reputation as impactful, further increasing its significance.
Mr Bennet later announces that ‘No man in his senses would marry Lydia’, proposing
Lydia has the reputation of being a young, naïve and silly girl, therefore causing her to
be less attractive as a wife
This reputation in the Regency Period, would be extremely disadvantageous as ‘it is a
truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of good fortune, must be
in want of a wife’. To marry off all her daughters was Mrs Bennett’s solitary aspiration in
the novel, so not only is Lydia’s negative reputation wounding to her own self, it also is
‘injurious to the fortune of all others” and especially to the likes of Mrs Bennett, her
mother, showing reputation is highly significant, as it not only affects the one person,
but also the other communities and people they are associated with.
As a whole, reputation is presented both negatively and positively, as the loss of
reputation is evidently feared throughout the novel, making it a key theme.
The use of epistolary form once again conveys the importance of reputation in the
Regency Period as the elopement of Wickham and Lydia causes ripples across ‘good
society’, resulting in Mr Gardiner promising ‘conditions’ for Lydia, ‘allowing her… one
hundred pounds per annum’
The attempt to manipulate Lydia with materialistic goods, that they may not be able to
afford, emphasises the extent the Bennett and Gardiner family are willing to go in order
to conserve their reputation, further expressing its importance within the novel.
While addressing the ‘conditions’ , Mr Gardiner had ‘ventured to make’ he described he
has made them ‘on [the Bennett’s] side’ communicating that as an observer of the
events that had unfolded, he was aware of the risk of a damaged reputation, therefore
created these rules to protect their reputation.
This indicates reputation was extremely significant in the Regency Period, as a bad
reputation would hinder future marital success, later in life, also suggesting reputation is
a dominant concept constructed by society, which can additionally increase the fear of
loosing your reputation.
In conclusion, we understand the significance of reputation through Austen’s use of
epistolary form, as she demonstrates the social conflict produced by the fear of loosing
ones reputation.