Pride and Prejudice is story revolving around love and marriage. According to the society, the family fortune is usually entitled to the male heir. This is why in the story the Bennets family gives Mrs.Bennet no choice but to act frantically and find her five daughters husbands. Each of her daughters is different and unique in her own way but the protagonist of the story, Elizabeth is portrayed out as self-aware and judgemental as well. She, however, must change her perception and be more understanding in order to unite with a worthy husband. In the story, people are rated by their financial status and marital opportunities. The society values marriage and marriages out of wedlock are disgraced. This is seen when Elizabeth learns that Lydia had eloped with Wickham and they were living out of wedlock and she was afraid her family would be disgraced for it. The women of this novel strive to get husbands so that they can fulfill the needs of the society and sometimes love is not a factor but to find a husband especially if one is getting old. An example is Charlotte, Elizabeth’s friend who decides to get married to Mr.Collins because she was getting older and needed a match for financial reasons. Financial stability in a marriage is an important factor to this society. The turn of events in the novel are defined by the characteristics of the characters who portray out different themes revolving around love and marriage in their acquisitive society.
Analysis of the main characters
Elizabeth is the second daughter of the family and also the most intelligent and quick-witted. She is described as lovely, clever and brilliant. These virtues make her to always rise above the nonsense and bad behaviors popular among her peers and also she does not tolerate any spiteful actions in her society. One weakness about her is the quick tendency to make judgments hastily which puts her in undesirable situations. The story shows how she and her love, Darcy overcomes every obstacle including the societal blocks and her personal weakness to find a romantic happiness. Elizabeth grows in a society that is not favorable at all, and her family is not any better that is why she has to cope with everything to find happiness eventually. Her mother is hopeless, her father distant and her two younger sisters are badly behaved. She manages to overcome all the societal and family turmoil including her mistaken impression towards Darcy.
Darcy has both good and bad qualities. Apart from being snobbish and arrogant, he is also honest and sure of himself. Though he is not a titled nobleman, he is among the wealthiest members who are in the same legal class as Elizabeth. His social superiority offends people who are in the lower class, but on, the brighter side, it promotes some of his better traits. From the novel, Wickham notes “his pride never deserts him; but with the rich, he is liberal-minded, just sincere, rational, honorable, and perhaps agreeable-allowing for fortune and figure” (47).His virtue of nobility makes him change in the novel. When Elizabeth turns down his marriage proposal, he is able to realize how assuming and arrogant he has been as Elizabeth brands him ungentle. He looks back to when he was growing up and recalls that his parents contributed to his arrogance as he speaks in the novel, “I was spoiled by my parents, who though good themselves…allowed, encouraged, almost taught me to be selfish and overbearing…to think meanly of all the rest of the world (351).In the story we see him evolve into a more understanding man who can bear other people’s faults. He is willing to Marry Elizabeth and cope with an embarrassing mother, three silly daughters, and Wickham as his brother in law.
Mr.Bennet is a less mobile character in the book. He is not portrayed as an interactive character like other who visit neighbors or go on trips. He is just seen once in a while outside his library. The same way he retreats from the world is the same way he distances himself from his family. He is intelligent but lazy. He is the kind of a person that is first to see and point other peoples’ weaknesses without attending to his own. He is so irresponsible that even when he dies his family is left lonely and destitute. Even though he is able to realize his irresponsible behavior he does nothing about it and readers of the novel are like people who cannot help but have contempt towards him.
Mrs.Bennet is not an intelligent woman. She is noisy and just wants to see her daughters get married by all means. Unfortunately, her lack of social graces just pushes away the people she wants to get her daughters married to. These are the likes of Darcy and Bingley.The society pushes teaches her on the necessity of young women getting married. Her behavior does more harm to her daughters than good. She encourages Kitty and Lady’s bad behavior and pushes Elizabeth to get marriage to someone she doesn’t love. This portrays her as a mother who is insensitive to her children’s happiness with a goal to just get them married and cares about nothing else in the world. She concerns herself with security rather than marriage, and this is proved by her own marriage to a unrespectful man who one can merely understand.
Jane Bennet and Charles Bingley
Jane is Elizabeth’s pretty elder sister, and Charles is Darcy’s Wealthy best friend. Jane’s and Charle’s courtship occupies a central point in the novel. They are both very compatible in their characters. The writer describes them as cheerful, friendly and good natured. Charles’s friendliness contrasts Darcy’s pride and generally the relationship between him and Jane and that of Darcy and Elizabeth, contrast remarkably. Though there traits appear to have been vaguely outstretched by the writer, Jane’s and Charles’s relationship is more of a true love unhampered by pride and prejudice.
Pride and Prejudice contain various love stories and how the characters overcome obstacles for love. The courtship between Darcy and Elizabeth is cherishable as it shows how any good love must overcome various stumbling blocks. The society, family and even personal characteristics can be an obstacle in any relationship but Darcy and Elizabeth journey show nothing cannot be overcomed by love. Darcy even though proud and arrogant, he is able to rethink and change her bad habits to be with Elizabeth. Elizabeth on the other hand is able to learn she was wrong to judge Darcy according to his poor first impression. Considering the backgrounds of both Elizabeth and Darcy, true love appears as something independent of social forces and can be captured if individuals are able to escape the effects of the hierarchical society. Austen sounds realistic by saying that heart does not dictate marriage using Charlotte Lucas who marries Mr, Collins for his money. By using her central characters, Austen demonstrates that true love is separate from the society and can overcome any difficult situation.
Pride and Prejudice are additional central themes of the novel. In the begging of the novel, Austen is able to define pride through Mary Bennet’s opinion as “what we would have others to think of us”(20).Elizabeth has some measures of destructive pride as she is quick to judge others at first and reacts immediately which causes regrets later. She has an idle man in her mind and that doesn’t give her an opportunity to learn people. Darcy is a totally proud man and also arrogant. Although pride can sometimes place someone into a class or status, he or she wants, to Darcy it is a total foe. At first, he is able to classify himself with people he thinks suits his status, and although he is attracted to Elizabeth, he looks down upon her and her family because of her inferior social level and her insensitive family. When he first proposes to Elizabeth, he is not sincere but abusive and proud which makes Elizabeth reject him. Elizabeth holds a blind prejudice because of the way he treated her earlier and because of the image of Darcy portrayed by Wickham’s lies. Elizabeth’s proposal rejection marks a point of change as it hurts Darcy’s pride causing him to do some self-analysis and eventually accepts her and her family. This kindness causes Elizabeth to do similar self-analysis, and at the end, the couple rises above pride and prejudice and gain happiness together.
The family is also another theme as demonstrated by Austen as a unit with the primary responsibility for the intellectual and moral growth of children. The characters of the novel seem to suffer or benefit from their families’ values. Elizabeth’s family failed to raise their children with proper education, and that leads to Lydia’s misconduct in her life. Although Elizabeth and Jane manage to develop some virtues in their lives, they do not have other role models like the Gardiners.Darcy notes that his mother contributed to his pride and arrogant by teaching him to be selfish. He, however, shares his father’s generous virtue. Lady Catherine is a strict and tough parent, and that has instilled fear in her daughter such that she is frightened to speak.
The class is another issue in the novel. There are differences in class in the novel which at some point contribute to how individual judge others. Darcy’s pride at first is based on his class consciousness and at the end accepts Elizabeth’s view that trappings of wealth are not a virtue and he proves this by comparing the well-spirited people like the gardiners to the mean and closed minded individual like Lady Catherine. Austen accepts that people cannot be in the same level in society, but class can be poisonous to the society. In the conclusion of the novel, it is clear Elizabeth approves class relationships. Likewise the kindness of Darcy towards Elizabeth’s family made possible by Elizabeth’s genius nature clearly shows that class does not determine someone’s destiny. Actually, class hierarchical are institutions that are intended to serve the end of human happiness.
The characters’ lives are defined by their virtues. It becomes clear that good virtues are important for one to choose a good life. Elizabeth almost losses her chance of happiness because pride overcomes her ability to be realistic but her intelligence and kindness influence Darcy to become a better man and they eventually have a romantic happiness. According to the story, Lydia lacks virtue and is unable to control her passion ad desire. Austen links virtue to self-awareness. Elizabeth and Darcy had to analyze themselves and realize their earlier actions were misleading and that instilled their change. It becomes clear that not everyone is perfect, but self-awareness is important to develop virtues.
Reputation is also depicted in the novel through the characters’ society which upholds a woman’s reputation with a lot of importance. The society expects a woman to behave in certain ways failure to which you are disgraced. This is evident when Elizabeth was afraid that her family would be graced when Lydia eloped with her boyfriend. This is because she was living with Wickham out of wedlock which the author treats as a very serious matter to the society. Also, when Elizabeth comes with a muddy skirt from the Netherfield, Miss Bingley and her friends her shocked out of reputation consciousness.Mrs.Bennet’s ridiculous behavior does not earn her any good reputation but just snobbed and ignored by the men he attracts to marry her daughters. Austen is, however, judgmental towards gender injustices in Pride and Prejudice. The author matches the capability of women to men. Austen herself chooses to remain single and earns her living through her novels. In her letters she advices women to only marry for love and reject the unfavorable societal demands. The society in the novel expects women to be married and their choices are limited to social rank and connections. Women in the novel’s society value marriage and have less choice to determine who they marry. The society weakens women by letting them get married off just like Mrs.Bennets hysteria about searching husbands for her daughters. It is questionable why marriage involves financial considerations. For example, Charlotte is quick to get married because she is getting old and also for the financial match.
Pride and Prejudice educate the readers about the limits of love and also the importance of virtue. The society is a reflection of traditions that happened back in the 19th century and how poisonous they can be to an individual. Pressure to get married sometimes denies some women a chance to find a man that they really love. Their choices are also limited due to financial considerations. However; characters like Elizabeth teach the readers how these limits can be conquered in search of true love. Today there exist some limitations like age difference in marriage in some cultures, but there also exists tough individuals who are not ready to be limited but just explore their wishes for happiness. Just like the real world, the story includes diversity regarding virtue and social class. Elizabeth, Jane, and the Gardiners reveal how virtues can be desirable and how they can determine one’s way of life no matter somebody’s background. On the other hand Lydia and Mrs, Bennet gets nothing beneficial for their ill behaviors. The novel holds a family important in producing an individual with good qualities, a society in directing individuals in the right way and finally personality is choosing a better life.
Austen, Jane. Pride and prejudice. Lulu. com, 1996.