Pride And Prejudice


The title of the novel Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen,
can be interpreted as a theme running through the novel.
Pride, observed Mary, . . ." 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 or another, real or imaginary. Vanity and pride are
different things, though the words are often used
synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain.
Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to
what we would have others think of us. Pride and/or vanity
is exhibited in different forms by each character. Ms.
Austen was trying to send the message that an excess of
pride or vanity is indeed a failing. Those characters who
can recognize their flaw emerge as the true heroes of the

In many minor characters of the novel, pride is a common
characteristic. Mrs. Bennet, for instance, is extremely
proud when it comes to her daughters marriages of mercenary
advantage. She is so concerned that her neighbors have a
high opinion of her that her own vanity will not even allow
her to think of her daughters love and happiness. This is
best shown with the case of Elizabeth Bennet s proposed
marriage to the esteemed Mr. Collins, a man she did not
love. Mrs. Bennet was so upset when her daughter refused
Mr. Collins offer that she would not speak to her for
passing up such an opportunity. 

We can see an example of pride for imaginary qualities in
Mary Bennet who was herself the speaker of this passage. To
the embarrassment of her family, Mary would take every
chance she could to put on a show whenever in a public
situation. Although she was not talented in any of the
activities she decided to undertake, her high opinion of
herself and her desire to esteem herself in the eyes of
others enabled her to display her supposed talents. 

Mr. Collins possesses a definite sense of vanity. He is in
no way concerned about his own opinion of his character,
for as we see his character leaves much to be desired. All
he cares about is what others think of him. He always needs
the approval of his present company. When he gives
Elizabeth the grand tour of his nothing-spectacular home,
he is looking for her approval of his position and
possessions. It is not important to Mr. Collins for people
to like him as a person, they just had better be impressed
his status in life and his connections. 

Mr. Darcy, as one of the main characters, is for the better
part of the novel a focus of the theme of pride. His pride
is very obvious. It is a part of his nature and is seen in
his mannerisms and in his speech. Darcy has such a high
opinion of himself that he does not care what others think
of him or his prideful actions. He believes that he is the
best in every way possible and finds that his standing in
society gives him the right to be critical of those not as
perfect as he. 

Elizabeth Bennet, the other main character of the novel, is
just as guilty of being proud as any of the other
characters in the novel. She prides herself on being
unprejudiced and rational in the judgment of others. Yet,
this is an imaginary quality as she learns that her
preconceived notions of both Mr. Darcy and Mr. Wickham turn
out to be false. She is also very proud when Darcy
confronts her about her family and connections. Although
Darcy' s accusations of the unsophistication of certain of
her family members are true, Elizabeth is too proud to
listen and accept the truth. Instead, she becomes so
angered with Darcy that it affects her entire relationship
with him. 

Both Darcy and Elizabeth come to recognize their pride as a
flaw in their respective characters. Darcy realizes that he
must check his pride in order to be seen in a good light by
others. Elizabeth, the object of his affections, is so
turned off by his prideful ways that a touch of vanity
enables him to change himself for her. Elizabeth, while
observing the transformations of Darcy, realizes that she,
too, has been guilty of too much pride. She sees that she
was indeed prejudiced and that she must come to terms with
the failings of her family. Darcy and Elizabeth are able to
overcome their pride which enables them to live happily
ever after . 

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