Pride and Prejudice Themes and Motifs Essay
Pride and Prejudice Themes and Motifs
Class is the target of much of the novel’s criticism of society in general. Austen makes it clear that people like Lady Catherine, who are overly invested in their social position, are guilty of judging that a person’s social rights are strictly defined by their class. Other characters, like the stuck-up Mr. Collins and the scheming Caroline, are depicted as thoroughly empty, their opinions and motivations completely defined by the dictates of the class system. Mr. Collins is not a part of the very high class, but driven by pride, he thinks he is.
His marriage to Charlotte was his attempt to recover his pride after being rejected by Lizzy. That is what makes him so obnoxious; his focus is always on showing off himself and his situation in life. To contrast them, Austen offers more positive examples in Bingley and the Gardiners. Bingley is someone from the upper class who wears his position lightly and gallantly. The Gardiners represent the honest, generous, and industrious middle class and are examples of how even the middle class can be as educated and refined as the upper class.
Austen does seem to respect the class system in a few ways, especially when it operates not as a dividing power in society, but as a force for virtue and decency. Darcy is the primary example of Austen’s ideal high-class gentleman. Though originally he seems to be an arrogant and selfish snob, as the novel progresses it becomes clear that he is capable of change. Eventually, thanks to Elizabeth’s influence and criticism, he combines his natural generosity with the integrity that he considers a crucial attribute of all upper-class people.
He befriends the Gardiners and plays a key role in helping the ungrateful Lydia out of her crisis. The marriage of Darcy and Elizabeth shows that class restrictions, while rigid, do not determine one’s character, and that love can overcome all obstacles, including class. Pride Pride is a constant presence in the characters’ attitudes and treatment of each other, coloring their judgments and leading them to make rash mistakes. Pride blinds Elizabeth and Darcy to their true feelings about each other.
Darcy’s pride about his social rank makes him look down on anyone not in his immediate circle. Elizabeth, on the other hand, takes so much pride in her ability to judge others that she refuses to revise her opinion even in the face of clearly contradictory evidence. This is why she despises the good-hearted Darcy for so long, but initially admires the lying Wickam. Yet while Pride and Prejudice implies that no one is ever completely free of pride, it makes it clear that with the proper moral upbringing one may overcome it to lead a life of decency and kindness.
In the end, the two lovers are able to overcome their pride by helping each other see their respective blind spots. Darcy sheds his snobbery, while Elizabeth learns not to place too much weight on her own judgments. Prejudice Prejudice in Pride and Prejudice refers to the tendency of the characters to judge one another based on preconceptions, rather than on who they really are and what they actually do. As the book’s title implies, prejudice goes hand in hand with pride, often leading its characters into making wrong assumptions about motives and behavior.
Austen’s gentle way of mocking Elizabeth’s and Darcy’s biases gives the impression that such mistakes could, and indeed do, happen to anyone; that faulting someone else for prejudice is easy while recognizing it in yourself is hard. Prejudice in the novel is presented as a stage in a person’s moral development, something that can be overcome through reason and compassion. Austen only condemns those people who refuse to set aside their prejudices, like the class-obsessed Lady Catherine and the scheming social climber Caroline.
Austen’s work offers a powerful illustration of the damaging effects to people and to society that prejudice can inflict. Marriage Pride and Prejudice is a love story, but its author is also concerned with pointing out the inequality that governs the relationships between men and women and how it affects women’s choices and options regarding marriage. Austen portrays a world in which choices for individuals are very limited, based almost exclusively on a family’s social rank and connections. To be born a woman into such a world means having even less choice about whom to marry or how to determine the shape of one’s life.
The way that society controls and weakens women helps to explain in part Mrs. Bennet’s hysteria about marrying off her daughters, and why such marriages must always involve practical, financial considerations. As members of the upper class, the Bennet sisters would have been expected to become Governesses if they did not marry. However, their father did not make sure they had a thorough education, so they are not qualified to be governesses. Yet as women they are not allowed to inherit anything. As a result, marriage is basically their only option for attaining wealth and social standing.
Yet Austen is also critical of women who marry solely for security, like Charlotte. The ideal for her is represented by Elizabeth, who refuses to trade her independence for financial comfort and in the end marries for love. Love The biggest and most obvious theme of this story is love. The book is a big ole’ love story that is not just about how beautiful love is, but other aspects of love as well. Jane Austin also shows how love complicates the lives of the characters throughout the plot. Caroline Bingley’s love for Mr. Darcy makes her bitter. And Jane’s love for everyone makes her fall victim to the schemes of others.
And how Elizabeth’s love for her family, make her blind to the reality of how people perceive them. Jane Austin shows that there is a difference between love and lust. She shows this through Lydia and Wickham’s marriage as well as how Mr. and Mrs. Bennett married foolishly and did not truly love each other and therefore had a bad marriage. In every true love story the lovers must separate and overcome numerous stumbling blocks, beginning with the tensions caused by the lovers’ own personal qualities. In Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship they had many hurdles.
There was the pride theme from both of them, the prejudice theme from both of them, Lady Catherine’s attempt to control her nephew, Miss Bingley’s snobbery and attempts to take Darcy all to herself, Mrs. Bennett’s idiocy, and Wickham’s deceit. In the end, love triumphs all. Through this, Austen suggests that true love is a force separate from society and one that can conquer even the most difficult of circumstances. It is not something that can be defined with marriage or similar class, etc. In each case, love seems to trump class and the other themes mentioned. Austin used these obstacles to create an ultimate love story.
She also highlights this theme more by having the very first sentence of the book be, “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife,” and using the character of Charlotte Lucas, who was the one who marries the buffoon Mr. Collins for his money, to demonstrate that the heart does not always dictate marriage. By using love as the theme of her book, Austen inputs her views on love as something independent of these social forces, as something that can be captured if only an individual is able to escape the warping effects of hierarchical society.
MOTIFS Courtship/Dating There are two major courtships that occur in the story—those between Darcy and Elizabeth and between Bingley and Jane. Darcy proposes twice to Elizabeth throughout the course of the novel, and Jane and Bingley’s relationship is continually deepening. There are also other less significant courtships which take place, such as the failed attempt of Mr. Collins’s proposal to Elizabeth followed by his successful marriage to Charlotte Lucas.
Another example would be the Miss Bingley’s unsuccessful attempt to attract Darcy; Wickham’s pursuit first of Darcy’s sister Georgianna, then Elizabeth, followed by a rich heiress in Meryton, and finally of Lydia. Courtship therefore takes on a profound importance in the novel. Courtship constitutes the real working-out of love. Courtship aka dating, is just a way to figure out if this person likes that person. It’s a sort of forge of a person’s personality, and each courtship becomes a different type of love (or different ways to abuse love as a means to social advancement).
Therefore, courtship proves to be of great importance at various points of the novel. Each courtship contains a different kind of love, with marriage usually as the ultimate goal. Journeys There are several journeys in which the characters take, even though most of the action is usually centered around the Bennet household in Longbourn. Jane when hearing word that Bingley has left town, she takes a Journey to London. Elizabeth’s first journey is to visit her friend Charlotte and Mr. Collins, however, on this journey, she encounters Mr. Darcy and during this time he also makes her his first proposal.
Her second journey is with the Gardiners, and it leads her to Pemberley, Darcy’s beautiful estate. Another major journey occurs at the end of the novel, where various people are in pursuit of Wickham and Lydia. This journey ends with Darcy saving the Bennet family’s honour, and then returning to Longbourn again to make his second proposal to Elizabeth. At the end of the novel, Elizabeth, Mr. Darcy, Jane, and Mr. Bingley get married and all live near Hunsford. Which is a big ‘journey’ from where they started in Longbourn.