An examination of the themes of Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’
By BROTI GUPTA ’16
Throughout Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” she explores how different the concepts of “pride” and “prejudice” are, “pride” being one concept and “prejudice” being another. This novel follows the lives of the Bennet family which includes their five unmarried daughters who end up for the most part getting married. In this paper, I will investigate the themes of “pride” and of “prejudice.”
“Pride” is another important theme of the book. Not only is it one of three words in the title (another of which is “and,” which does not seem as important, so it is basically one of two words, which is half of the title), it is also the first word of the title. From the beginning of the title, Austen makes it known that this book will be about “Pride.” In the society Austen writes about, women are expected to be very proud in order to marry. Similarly, men are also expected to be very proud because they must be in good standing to marry a proud woman. Darcy, famous for his reputation of “playing hard to get,” (author’s note) is a very proud man and tells Elizabeth “that…[they]” (pg. 78) should marry, thereby upholding his pride by “making the first move” (author’s note).
Another, almost equally important theme of the novel is the theme of “prejudice.” Like “pride,” it is in the title of the novel. Austen explores this theme by presenting us with characters that judge others based on their circumstances. For example, a character might judge another character based on wealth. The wealthier character would have pride and the less wealthy character, less pride. Darcy, initially, is painted as a character who is prejudiced against Elizabeth for part of the book when he thinks he is better than her, but he becomes less prejudiced when he falls in love with her and thinks she’s good enough for him.
Jane Austen is an author known for her subtle work with characters, settings, and storylines. In fact, she extended this talent to write many other books during her time as an author. “Pride and Prejudice” is a book to be read because of its themes, its plot and its happy ending.