* Ultimately, Pride and Prejudice is a love story in that the way Darcy/Elizabeth and Bingley/Jane finally come together forms the basis of the plot.
* True love, as it is represented in the novel, can overcome the odds such as the interference of well-meaning friends as well as pride and prejudice. It lasts over time and is not based on a few weeks’ acquaintance. Austen seems to believe in love based on mutual gratitude, esteem and respect. Being intellectually and characteristically equal also seems to be important.
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This is demonstrated in the characters and relationships mentioned above. The power of love to change people is also explored with Elizabeth and Darcy becoming better people as a result of their relationship.
* Some other marriages such as Wickham/Lydia, Mr. and Mrs. Bennet and Mr. Collins/Charlotte are looked upon disapprovingly because they are not marriages of true love, but marriages based on desire or financial convenience.
* Marriage is seen as necessary for social respectability and material comfort.
The sole aim of Mrs. Bennet’s life is get her daughters married, hence showing its importance.
* There are different aims and kinds of marriages. Marriages for convenience, financial security, desire and of course, love are the most common ones.
* There is the question of where to draw the line between the prudent and mercenary motive in marriage.
* The novel reflects the real societal problem of the lack of availability of suitable partners, reflected in Charlotte’s desire to grasp at anything.
* Austen shows that marriage can be motivated by love and not money through the main characters. Darcy and Bingley both marry socially and financially inferior women.
* “She began now to comprehend that he was exactly the man, who, in disposition and talents, would most suit her. His understanding and temper, though unlike her own, would have answered all her wishes. It was a union that must have been to the advantage of both; by her ease and liveliness, his mind might have been softened, his manners improved, and from his judgement, information, and knowledge of the world, she must have received benefit of greater importance. But no such happy marriage could now teach the admiring multitude what connubial felicity really was.” (P.295-6)
* In the novel, wealth is seen as beneficial commodity but not necessarily guaranteeing happiness, morality and good sense. Bingley and Darcy choose their wives for their character and beauty probably because they have a better chance of happiness. Miss Bingley is rich but lacking in good morals and kindness. Lady Catherine is also rich but lacking in good sense.
* Solely marrying for money is frowned upon, i.e. Mr. Wickham, Mrs. Bennet’s vulgar desire to have her daughters marry rich men
* Austen places character above material wealth in terms of choosing a marriage partner, as Elizabeth initially refuses Darcy despite his great fortune.
* Austen shows that worth is not based on wealth or social, that personal qualities are important too, such as morality and intelligence.
* Linked to prejudice, Austen shows that first impressions are not always a true reflection of the way things really are. This is shown best through the characters of Wickham and Darcy.
* Darcy also has to overcome his first impression of Elizabeth, especially her less than friendly attitude towards him.
* Austen endorses the value of not judging a person immediately but taking time to see their true character.
* Austen disapproves of excessive pride through the depictions of Lady Catherine, Darcy and Mr. Collins. Lady Catherine thinks she has a right to interfere in all aspects people’s lives, Mr. Collins is arrogant because of his association with Lady Catherine and his moral rightness and Darcy’s pride provokes the dislike of people, in particular, Elizabeth. Elizabeth is also proud in that she stubbornly believes she is right about Darcy and persists in disliking him.
* “Pride is a very common failing, I believe. By all that I have ever read, I am convinced that it is very common indeed, that human nature is particularly prone to it, and that there are very few of us who do not cherish a feeling of self-complacency on the score of some quality, real or imaginary.”
* Mary also says, “Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously.” (P.21) Pride is about what we think of ourselves, while vanity is about the opinions of others.
* Austen disapproves of ignorance, demonstrated in the way that certain characters are mocked for their stupidity, in particular, Mrs. Bennet, Lydia, Mr. Collins and Lady Catherine. Their ignorance is often a source of humour.
* Austen endorses intelligence – both Darcy and Elizabeth are intelligent, and seems to promote reading for the getting of knowledge and understanding.
* To some extent, Elizabeth is ignorant too because of her prejudice towards Wickham and Darcy. “Pleased with the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other, on the very beginning of our acquaintance, I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away.” (P.202) Therefore, prejudice is linked with ignorance. Similarly, people dislike Darcy because of ignorance; they don’t who he really is.
* The novel explores different methods of courtship. Mr. Collins and Mr. Darcy both have interesting methods. Mr. Darcy apologises for being in love and insults Elizabeth. Mr. Collins lists all the practical benefits of marriage for himself and is totally unconvincing in his expressions of love. They sound like the complements he likes to create and prepare.
* Jane conceals her affection too much. “If a woman conceals her affection with the same skill from the object of it, she may lose the opportunity of fixing him; and it will then be but poor consolation to believe the world equally in the dark.” (P.22)
* Lively, attractive, spirited, articulate, well-mannered, affectionate, genteel
* intelligent, perceptive, well-read, independent, rational
* Easily prejudiced positively and negatively; determined to dislike Darcy and like Wickham
* High moral standards; high ideals about marriage and love
* Cheerful disposition; able to laugh at her misfortunes
* Realises her mistakes and follies when she sees Darcy’s nature
* Ashamed of the oddities of her family, yet devoted to their wellbeing
* Displays strength and intelligence when confronted by Lady Catherine; sees through her wealth and status
* Handsome, refined, discreet, intelligent, articulate
* Morally upright, devoted to his sister, honest, honourable, loving, highly praised by housekeeper, accepts blame
* conscious of his pedigree, arrogant, shy, uncomfortable around strangers, reserved
* Becomes more modest, humble and well-mannered after Elizabeth reprimands him
* Attractive, genteel, kind, inclined to think the best of people, sensitive, modest, patient, a little bit too perfect to be true
* Sociable, lively, unreserved, keen on pleasing others, relies on Darcy for guidance, kind, loved by everyone, gentleman-like, lacks resolution and his own opinion
* Quick, reserved, sarcastic, humorous, capricious, has philosophic composure
* Is content to laugh at the oddities of his family without endeavouring to fix them
* Irresponsible towards his family; realises this after the Lydia/Wickham affair
* Favours Elizabeth because they are similar in intellectualism and character
* Well-read, likes the country, shuts himself in his library away from his family
* Regrets marrying a woman he can’t respect, enjoys teasing his wife
* Comic figure, foolish, talkative, snobbish, ignorant, uncertain temper, small-minded, naive
* Business of life was to get her daughters married; nothing matters more to her, hypocritical
* Shallow, materialistic, snobbish, unkind, lacks integrity, wants Darcy, hypocritical
* Comic figure, absurd, complements everything, thinks he is serious, apologises excessively
* Feels proud because of his association with Lady Catherine and because of his moral uprightness
* Marries solely for practical reasons, not for love
* Other people generally can’t stand him except for Charlotte who seems to be willing to tolerate him
Lady Catherine de Bourgh
* Comic figure; associated with author’s satire of appearances and good breeding
* Arrogant, authoritative, thinks she has a right to dictate every aspect of people’s lives
* Patronising, condescending; perhaps this is suits her role as a patroness
* Lacks wisdom and gentility, forthright, conscious of her rank and pedigree
* Uses his good looks and charm to attract wealthy women for their money, seems to have no morals, has all the appearance of goodness, lives wildly, squanders all his money, takes advantage of other people’s kindness, initially loved by everyone, stands in contrast to Darcy
* Pragmatic in terms of marriage, seems to eager to grasp at any offer of marriage
Mr. & Mrs. Gardiner
* Like-minded to Jane and Elizabeth, one of the few relatives Elizabeth isn’t ashamed of.
* High-spirited, similar to her mother, obsessed with officers, wild and unrestrained, uncivil, boisterous, talkative, unashamed, fearless, noisy
* Studious, well-read, intellectual, prides herself on morality and sense, works hard for accomplishments, has a conceited and pedantic air
* Use of exaggeration
* Formal, refined language; elegant dialogue
* Subtle, light touch, not vicious or forceful
* Irony – “In a fortnight they (the officers) were to go, and once gone, she (Elizabeth) hoped there could be nothing more to plague her on his (Wickham) account.” (P.215). This is irony in setting up for Lydia’s elopement with Wickham.
* Caricature – Mrs. Bennet, Mr. Collins and Lady Catherine are all examples of what Jane Austen thinks people should not be.
* Small country town – gossip, ignorance, small-mindedness. “Mr. Darcy…drew…attention…by his fine, tall person…and the report which was in general circulation within five minutes after his entrance, of his having ten thousand a year.” (P.12) In a small town, all they do visit each other and gossip, especially people like Mrs. Bennet. Also reflected in Mrs. Bennet is the small-mindedness and ignorance.
* 18th century England – reflected in social conventions, social rank, class system, marriage.
> Social conventions – The Bennet girls couldn’t visit Bingley until Mr. Bennet went first. Husbands and wives rarely referred to each other by first names in front of servants.
> Social rank and class system – Darcy, Bingley and Lady Catherine are higher in rank than the Bennets, the Lucases and the Collins’. Therefore the Bennet girls were advancing in their status by marrying Darcy and Bingley. There is hardly any mention of the lower classes
> Marriage – the general opinion was that marriage equalled happiness, social security and financial convenience especially for women.
* Much social upheaval in other parts of Europe; however, this is not evident in this novel. England was still very much a class-ridden society. Austen only focuses on the comfortable lives of the middle and upper classes. It was fashionable for young ladies of the middle class to do as little domestic work as possible. This is why the Bennet girls seem to have nothing to do except visit officers, shop, go to balls, socialise, play music and read.