Pride and Prejudice: Top Ten Quotes

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  1. "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife" (51). This sentence, the first of the novel, introduces the reader to the marriage theme that will outline much of the book. 
  2. "The gentlemen pronounced him to be a fine figure of a man, the ladies declared he was much handsomer than Mr. Bingley, and he was looked at with great admiration for about half the evening, till his manners gave a disgust which tuned the tide of his popularity; for he was discovered to be proud, to be above his company, and above being pleased; and not all his large estate in Derbyshire could then save him from having a most forbidding, disagreeable countenance, and being unworthy to be compared with his friend" (58). This quote describes other characters' reaction to Mr. Darcy and how he is initially thought to be proud.  This belief serves to guide how many will think of him until the very end of the book.
  3. "To Elizabeth it appeared, that had her family made an agreement to expose themselves as much as they could during the evening, it would have been impossible for them to play their parts with more spirit, or finer success; and happy did she think it for Bingley and her sister that some of the exhibition had escaped his notice, and that his feelings were not of a sort to be much distressed by the folly which he must have witnessed" (143). These thoughts of Elizabeth follow the Netherfield Ball, where her family has embarrassed her, and serve to show her concern for the other characters' sense of her family's inferiority.  It is Darcy she is most concerned about, for as the quote states, Bingley was not as set against them.
  4. "I have no wish of denying that I did every thing in my power to separate my friend from your sister, or that I rejoice in my success.  Towards him I have been kinder than towards myself" (223). This quote from Darcy is spoken to Elizabeth after she has refused his hand in marriage. This angers Elizabeth even more, as she feels that it is solely because of her family that he would want to prohibit any sort of engagement between Bingley and Jane or Elizabeth and himself.
  5. "You are mistaken, Mr. Darcy, if you suppose that the mode of your declaration affected me in any other way, than as it spared me the concern which I might have felt in refusing you, had you behaved in a more gentleman-like manner" (224).  Elizabeth says this to Darcy after he accuses her of only refusing him because of the way he proposed.  Her reproof of him in this way serves to make him reevaluate his behaviour and makes him change in the end.
  6. "How despicably have I acted!' she cried. - 'I, who have prided myself on my discernment! - I, who have valued myself on my abilities!." (236).  Elizabeth says this to herself after she reads Darcy's letter and realizes that she had no reason to despise him as she had.
  7. "Every disposition of the ground was good; and she looked on the whole scene, the river, the trees scattered on its banks, and the winding of the valley, as far as she could trace it" (268). This description of Elizabeth's first visit to Pemberley marks a changing point in Elizabeth's feelings for Darcy.
  8. "There was certainly at this moment, in Elizabeth's mind, a more gentle sensation towards the original, that she had ever felt in the height of their acquaintance" (272). Along with the quote before, this serves to show how Elizabeth's trip to Pemberley changes the relationship between Darcy and Elizabeth. (See the metaphor discussion for the how the expanding landscape is a symbol for Elizabeth expanding her vision of Darcy.)
  9. "The Bennets were speedily pronounced to be the luckiest family in the world, though only a few weeks before, when Lydia had first run way, they had been generally proved to be marked out for misfortune" (361). This is written after Jane's engagement to Bingley is announced.  It shows, as does the rest of the novel, how quickly beliefs and prejudices can change.
  10. "If he had been wavering before, as to what he should do, which had often seemed likely, the advice and entreaty of so near a relation might settle every doubt, and determine him at once to be as happy, as dignity unblemished could make him" (370). Here Elizabeth worries that Darcy's aunt will again bring the inferiority of Elizabeth's family to Darcy's mind and will turn him against her for sure.  Darcy is not so easily swayed though (as Bingley was), and in fact Lady Catherine's attempts to draw Darcy and Elizabeth apart instead serve to bring them together at last.

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