Themes

Pride

As the title of Austen's Pride and Prejudice announces, pride is an important theme in the story. As Mary pedantically remarks, “human nature is particularly prone to” pride (p. 13). We subsequently see that most characters in the novel struggle with this flaw, which often stops them from seeing situations and people objectively.

The consequences of pride are mostly explored through the main characters, Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. Darcy’s pride is initially a result of his belief in his superior social status. Seeing himself as important and sophisticated leads to Mr Darcy looking down on anyone whom he believes does not belong to his social circle. This is why he refuses to dance with Elizabeth at the first ball and even talks about her and other women in rather critical terms.

His pride is challenged by the fact that he begins to be attracted by Elizabeth’s wit and physical appearance. While he still thinks he is superior, he falls in love with her and eventually decides to ask her to marry him. However, his proposal is still influenced by class pride – which makes him offend Elizabeth during his proposal, as he carefully outlines all the failings of her relatives.

Elizabeth’s pride mainly derives from her belief in her intelligence and her ability to ‘read people’. Her pride is wounded when Darcy comments on her looks, saying she is only ‘tolerable’, as well as when he talks about her social inferiority as he proposes marriage. Nevertheless, Darcy and Elizabeth are the only characters in the novel who manage to overcome their pride and, as a result, they fall in love and marry.

At one po...

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