The Ways the Theme of Pride and Prejudice is Revealed Through the Characters of Elizabeth Bennet and Darcy
In Austen's time it was typical of people of a higher status to look
down on people below them; to be totally blinded by pride and to be
prejudiced against those who have less wealth, connections and social
status than them. People of a lower status also were prejudice against
those higher than themselves. This is brilliantly portrayed in the
characters of Elizabeth and Darcy.
Darcy comes from a high social class. He has pride in his family. His
Aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh has an overwhelming sense of her own
importance, which Darcy has inherited.
Prejudice is very much linked to first impressions and judging people
by them. This links to the first title of the novel, 'First
Impressions', and through the novel you can see why Austen's first
choice of title was 'First Impressions'. As the whole book is based on
the wrong first impressions and the consequences of judging by them.
When Darcy is first introduced, the society of Meryton very quickly
formed a general opinion of him. It was decided on the strength of his
unsociable behaviour and was heightened through the contrast of
Bingley's and Darcy's behaviour. Darcy's arrogance is condemned and
prejudice against him set in. 'He was discovered to be proud, to be
above his company.'
Darcy very quickly offends Lizzie by saying, 'she is tolerable; but
not handsome enough to tempt me.' As well as that, Darcy's pride in
his family, social class and connections leads him to be prejudiced
against Elizabeth as she comes from a lower social class than himself.
Because of his arrogant treatment of Elizabeth, it offends her innate
pride, and in turn, prejudices her against him. 'I could easily
forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.'
Not only does Lizzie's inferiority, prejudices Darcy against her, but
also the way her family act. Mrs Bennet, Kitty and Lydia are
constantly chasing and flirting with the officers and Mrs Bennet
encourages them. Their kind of behaviour is not what young girls, in
the 19th Century should be like and Darcy and the Bingley sisters
frown upon it.
In chapter 18, even Mr Bingley manages to embarrass Elizabeth when
Mary tried to sing but Mr Bennet told her quite abruptly to stop, 'You
have delighted us enough. Let the other young ladies have time to
exhibit.' In chapter 18 everything the Bennet's do further alienate
Darcy at the ball. This is because the Bennet's behaviour shows
Elizabeth in a bad light, making Darcy even more prejudice against
Mrs Bennet's behaviour in this chapter furthers Darcy's prejudice
against Lizzie and her family. She arranged for the coach to be late
and as Bingley and Darcy were and wanting to go to bed, they had to
stay up until the Bennet's had...