Pride and Prejudice


Pride and Prejudice
THEME:
Jane Austen?s novel Pride and Prejudice is a tale of love and marriage in eighteenth-century England.
PLOT:
It centres on the elder sisters of the Bennet family, Jane and Elizabeth. Their personalities, misunderstandings and the roles of pride and prejudice play a large part in the development of their individual relationships. The spirited Elizabeth and softhearted Jane have to deal with not only their own feelings but also the status of their family, both of which affect the outcomes of their marriages. The struggle is very believable and realistic because the story takes place a long time ago. The way people interact with each other today is quite different than how they would interact with each other back then.
CHARACTERS:
Pride and Prejudice is an appropriate name for the book. These notions permeate the novel thoroughly, especially in the views of Elizabeth and Darcy. Jane?s temperance does not allow for these qualities to exist in her personality. Mr. Darcy is characterized as a proud, haughty, arrogant man and ends up almost immediately alienating himself from the townspeople. This opinion arises after he refuses to dance with the young ladies who have attended the ball and his obvious reluctance to talk to anyone. His pride was said to come from his extreme wealth.
SETTING:
Our first introduction to pride and prejudice is at a ball Mr. Bingley throws. His sisters and a dear friend of his, Mr. Darcy, accompany him.. Eighteenth-century England was quite preoccupied with status, especially concerning wealth and reputation. Darcy?s reluctance to speak with anyone stemmed from his lack of respect for anyone outside his close-knit circle. His good breeding was obvious only to those whom he knew well. Elizabeth is prejudiced against Darcy for entirely different reasons. She received information that was one-sided and made unfair assumptions on Darcy?s character. She prejudged him; combining the superficial view she had of him and some rumours. The roles of pride and prejudice can be summed up in the exchange between Darcy and Elizabeth, after he proposed. Darcy clearly defines the reasons for his prejudice: "Could you expect me to rejoice in the inferiority of your connections? To congratulate myself on the hope of relations whose condition in life is so decidedly beneath my own?" (Pg.164) Elizabeth?s prejudice against him withstood even as her pride did not, under his assault on her family. Her opinion of him from the very beginning impressed her with " the fullest belief of (his) arrogance, (his) conceit, and (his) selfish disdain of the feelings of others". (Pg. 164) Elizabeth Bennet is a spirited character. She has a playful and light-hearted disposition. She is confident, loyal, clever and funny. She found delight " in anything ridiculous", which included an insult to her beauty. (Pg. 12) Her loyalty and devotion to her sister was shown in her three-mile trek to Bingley?s house " so early in the day" and "in such dirty weather", to visit her while she was ill. (Pg. 30) Elizabeth is also more a sceptic. This particular quality in evident in the surprise she expresses in her sister?s tendency to look at people through rose coloured glasses. She is quite frank and very honest even though she occasionally professed "opinions which in fact are not (her) own". (Pg.149) She expresses her feeling regardless of the commotion that it may cause and more often than not, for the shock it will cause. She has a clear understanding of who she is and what will make her happy. This is most obvious when she refuses to marry Mr. Collins. And when she refuses to marry Mr. Darcy when he initially proposes. Even her shock at the mercenary actions of her best friend proves Elizabeth?s understanding of what is right and what the ingredients of happiness are. Later, her playfulness can be seen in the way she endeavours to find out the moment Darcy fell in love with her. She declares that he fell in love with her impertinence, mainly because he was tired of all the women who fawned over him. Elizabeth?s pride and other failings were all ones she eventually overcame. At one point in the novel, the readers are taken aback by a comment that Elizabeth makes. She tells her sister, she fell in love with Darcy after seeing his estate at Pemberly. At first glance the comment makes her seem as mercenary as her friend,