An Opening Sentence to Remember

I am beginning reading Jane Austen’s masterpiece Pride and Prejudice this week. I plan on posting my commentary and thoughts about the book, as time and occasion permit. If you would like to join me in my reading adventure, I am reading chapters one through nineteen this week. Today, I have decided to focus on the novel’s opening line.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” (page 1, chapter 1)

The opening sentence of Pride and Prejudice is quite an attention grabber. It introduces the idea of marriage and the part money can play in the process of marriage. The reader knows from the start that the story will probably involve one or more women vying for the hand of a rich man. The speaker of the first sentence seems to have an underlying motive. The speaker is most likely a woman, eager to marry off her daughter to some rich gentleman. Thus, the speaker attempts to convey her words as “a truth universally acknowledged” to either motivate the man to seek a wife or to motivate the daughter to seek a rich husband. Either way, the first sentence introduces the reader to Austin’s witty style and also to a central idea of the novel.

What do you think of the opening line? Is it successful and meaningful?

-M.M.

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