Key Themes and Concepts in Pride and Prejudice

Key Themes and Concepts in Pride and Prejudice

Pride: The novel’s title could refer to either Mr. Darcy or Elizabeth but it is relevant to the whole society Jane Austen portrays. Elizabeth is too proud to admit she is falling for Mr. Darcy and he is too proud to admit he could fall for someone below his station. This kind of pride should be over come and love does conquer it. However the pride of the Bennet family is a different sort of pride, theirs is legitimate. They feel it when they are worried and ashamed, not only for Lydia’s welfare when she runs away with Wickham but also because they would be looked down upon in society if their unmarried daughter is seen gallivanting with a soldier. It is also this kind of pride that causes Mr. Bennet to feel ashamed when he thinks Mr. Gardiner has paid to save his family’s honour.

Prejudice: Elizabeth feels that the wealthy Mr. Darcy could never be a match for her because he is of a higher class, at the same time Mr. Darcy says her family, particularly her mother, are not tempting to a man of his stature. However when he declares his love for Elizabeth Darcy shows his willingness to overcome such inequalities in their birth: “His sense of her inferiority–of its being a degradation–of the family obstacles which judgment had always opposed to inclination, were dwelt on with a warmth which seemed due to the consequence he was wounding, but was very unlikely to recommend his suit.” Quite rightly, Elizabeth is offended and turns him down, especially as she thinks that he has persuaded Mr. Bingley not to marry Jane for the very same reasons.

Class: Class is integral to the novel as it is the main reason that the engagements of Jane and Elizabeth are so important. Both women marry an upper class man, but they do it for love, unlike Charlotte, who marries for money or Wickham who is also paid off. Because Mr. Darcy is upper class, he is supposed to be engaged to his cousin, Lady Catherine’s daughter, this was common as it kept money and property within upper class family circles and had little to do with love. The Bennets are a middle class family, they are not poor, but they are not as wealthy as Darcy, Bingley or Lady Catherine.

Love: Jane Austen’s novel shows a society that is divided and becomes united through romantic love. She shows the importance of marriage to the characters as they must marry, but shows the dangers of marrying because you have to. Charlotte is content but did not marry Mr. Collins for love; she does not end up very happy but is at least comfortable and has a family. Lydia does marry for love, but not to somebody who loves her and again money is the main thing that binds them together in the end. Although Elizabeth thinks it is class that stops Mr. Bingley from marrying Jane, it is in also that Mr. Darcy is worried about his friend’s heart, as he believes Jane to be ‘indifferent’. The decision Mr. Darcy makes is a very controversial one when he marries down a class for Elizabeth, in every marriage in the novel somebody is compromising, yet for Elizabeth, Jane, Darcy and Bingley love conquers all and the pride and prejudices that make their marriages a compromise have been overcome by love.