Exploring The Theme Of Pride And Prejudice

2400 words - 10 pages

How does Jane Austen explore the theme of Pride and Prejudice in the
novel?

The original title of Jane Austen's novel, "Pride and Prejudice" was
"First impressions". From this title it is clear that Jane Austen
wanted to convey to the reader the importance of first impressions and
how we form them so quickly. Other themes of the novel include pride,
prejudice, conceit and vanity. Most people have these feelings or
opinions without even realising it. Pride is a feeling of satisfaction
that you have done well, however, it can also mean that you feel
better than others. Pride can be linked to vanity, which can be
described as a feeling of excessive pride regarding aspects of
yourself, for example, your looks or abilities. Prejudice is an unfair
dislike of another person because of your opinions about an aspect of
their lives, such as their religion or race. Mary Bennet gives this
definition of vanity within the novel. "Vanity and pride are different
things… A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more
to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what others think of us." This
is important to the text as it shows that vanity is an important issue
to the characters in the novel and it also shows the reader that
vanity is likely to be one of the themes explored.

The themes of pride and prejudice are explored through characters and
events in the novel, which I will now discuss.

Initially Elizabeth, the romantic heroin, harbours a deep dislike to
Darcy owing to the fact that he appears to be hostile towards her
family and others with lower social connections and less wealth. Darcy
is described as being "proud" and said to have a "forbidding,
disagreeable countenance", meaning that he appears to be unwelcoming
and unapproachable to others. Elizabeth believes that Darcy is
prejudiced against her family because of their social status and their
financial state, because she believes that Darcy dislikes her she
forms her own prejudice against him, believing that he is too proud of
his social status and wealth and is harsh, rude and unwelcoming to
others.

Elizabeth's prejudice against Darcy is fuelled when she hears from
Wickham that Darcy has treated him wrongly. Elizabeth accepts
Wickham's story without exploring it fully because she believes that
he is a gentleman and so is trustworthy. This is another example of
how first impressions can be wrong, as Wickham is not a gentleman as
Elizabeth first thought and has not told Elizabeth the whole truth
about why Darcy treated him wrongly. When Elizabeth finds out the
vital information that Wickham has not mentioned her opinion of both
Wickham and Darcy changes dramatically. This is a crucial point in the
novel as this is when Elizabeth realises how easily she has formed
prejudices and opinions about people that are wrong. Austen has also
guided the reader to have the same opinions, as Elizabeth and this is
the point in the reader realises that they...

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