Pride & Prejudice as Themes in Austen's Novel: Meanings & Examples

Instructor: Lindsey Coley
This lesson contains a definition and analysis of the title words in Jane Austen's 1813 novel ~'Pride and Prejudice~' and how they reflect the main character's obstacles, actions, and inability to connect.

Love Complicated by Pride and Prejudice

Have you ever had a crush on someone you thought was out of your league? What qualified them as out of your league? Maybe you found this person to be so beautiful or intelligent it intimidated you. Maybe they came from a family that was better off than yours. There could be a plethora of reasons that made you think you couldn't ever truly connect with this person. Maybe it wasn't even you in this situation, but you watched a friend or family member go through it.

In Jane Austen's 1813 novel Pride and Prejudice, we see a situation where these two title nouns complicate, wrench, and twist hearts and lives around because of belief in societal norms. Basically, one lover is constantly out of the other lover's reach for some of the same silly reasons you or your loved one may never have connected with their own crush.

Pride

Austen first introduces us to her heroine Elizabeth Bennet as the second daughter of a scheming mother and a semi-apathetic father. Her mother wishes to see all her daughters married off well. There is a new suitor possibility in town named Bingley and here, trying to marry off her first daughter, Jane, is where all the stir begins. This is the point in the novel where pride comes into play. It keeps two possible lovers separated by an inflated stubbornness in their own personal high opinions of the self.

Bingley has a best friend and adviser named Darcy who is 'the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world.' Darcy is against any engagement on Bingley's part to the lowbrow society to which he considers the Bennets to belong. Darcy is well off and trained in manners which he prides himself on though it comes off as his being 'so conceited there [is] no enduring him.' He views it his duty to maintain his image in such a careful way. Elizabeth detests this aspect of Darcy because she doesn't understand it.

Elizabeth and Darcy clash throughout the novel due to their different variations of pride. Elizabeth is prideful of her family and her own sense of honor. She will flirt and fawn over no man who has harmed the ones she loves. This includes the heart of her sister and also a new friend and crush named Wickham, a militia man. She defends this man she assumes to be wronged by Mr. Darcy and keeps an emotional barrier against Darcy just as he seems to be warming up to her. This pride maintains a cool distance between the two throughout the novel.

Prejudice

The initial prejudice in the novel comes when Darcy sees the way Mrs. Bennet and some of her daughters act in society. Darcy judges them as too crass and rough-edged to be worth Bingley's fortune. He does not care that Jane, the woman up for possible betrothal, acts in no way like the others and demonstrates only grace and sophistication. He makes a quick decision of the 'type' of people the Bennets are and holds tightly to his opinion. To this end, Bingley ends his courtship with the eldest Bennet daughter and breaks her heart, though she has done no wrong.

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