THESIS: The author demonstrates that previous judgment and prejudice can be wrong and harsh; as the result of a long way of reflection, due to the various events in the lives of heroes, Darcy proves himself worthy of Elizabeth and she changes her attitude, realizing that her prejudice is unreasonable.
“Pride and prejudice” of Elizabeth
The central heroine of the novel, Elizabeth Bennet is a girl with a strong character, she is smart and attractive. Although she is young, she is exceptional and outstanding. For Elizabeth, marriage is not the main goal in life and she cannot imagine herself running after men. Such an unordinary position cannot guarantee her happy life without any troubles. It is a well-known fact that most of the problems are caused by a strong mind.
In the case of Elizabeth, this statement is true. This girl is proud and self-sufficient. On the other hand, Darcy, son of the rich parents, is described as an intelligent and forthright; he is proud of his social status. Darcy is the best match for Elizabeth, he is her male counterpart. However, after the first meeting, both, Elizabeth and Darcy, are full of prejudice towards each other. They need time to get used to each other and to overcome their prejudices. Their sympathy grows, but both of the heroes think rather rationally than emotionally. The relation between passion and reason in the novel consists of understanding that social status plays a significant role in the relationships.
Thus, even when Darcy wants to marry Elizabeth, he reminds her about the social distance between them. The author demonstrates that previous judgments and prejudices can be wrong and harsh; as the result of a long way of reflection, due to the various events in the lives of heroes, Darcy proves himself worthy of Elizabeth and she changes her attitude, realizing that her prejudice is unreasonable.
“Pride and prejudice” of Darcy
Elizabeth’s pride and prejudice conclude in her attitude toward men in general and Darcy particularly. Although she comes from an ordinary social background, her intellectual characteristics are outstanding. Despite many other girls, she does not want to be in a hurry with marriage, considering such a position as neglect of female personality. This girl is proud of who she is and wants to improve her personality. However, she is the second daughter in a family of five children.
Due to the difficult position of her family, she has to get married to help her relatives to improve economic security. She is convinced that love must be the cause of marriage and she wants to marry for love. Such a desire cannot be considered as pride or prejudice; it is the natural will of every person. However, Elizabeth is too proud to get married without love and only for economic purpose.
Therefore, when Mr. Collins offers to marry him, she refuses because she knows that he is boring and shallow, although his economical position is stable. In the end, Elizabeth gets married to Darcy, only after she gets known him well and makes sure that he is the right man. Elizabeth’s father is an example of the perfect man for her, he supports her, and, despite her mother, he does not want her to marry for money. Elizabeth’s conflict with mother demonstrates her ability to think independently and to decide what is better for her, despite the opinions of others, even the members of her family.
Elizabeth is an influential girl who can make her sisters dependent on her opinion. However, she does not treat them wrong and does not use her power to get some profit. Perhaps, she just wants to help her sisters to be prideful like she is. She does not afraid to tell what she thinks and, therefore, has conflicts with some characters. She cannot treat Darcy well, because he insults her pride. She needs a lot of time to forgive someone who offends her.
When Elizabeth meets Darcy, she considers him as a selfish and egoistic man. Her first impressions are negative; moreover, she keeps feeling in this way for a long time, making the biggest mistake in her life. There is an internal struggle inside Elizabeth’s mind. On one hand, she feels an attraction to Darcy; however, on the other hand, the initial prejudice does not allow her to see the truth. Although she has “a lively, playful disposition, which delighted in anything ridiculous” (Austen Ch. 3), her character is strong indeed. At the beginning of their acquaintance, Elizabeth will not get known Darcy, being offended by his underline of the social distance between them. If in the beginning, she could have good thoughts about Darcy, after such acts, she does not have any other solution and refuses him.
The first impression influences Elizabeth’s attitude toward Darcy. One can say that such a position is wrong and she should get to know him better before making the conclusions about his personality. However, Elizabeth was insulted by Darcy when he refused to dance with her, saying that she is not beautiful enough. Naturally, the girl’s eyes were blinded by this comment, and Elizabeth could not forgive Darcy. Her initial judgment and the social barriers separate Darcy from Elizabeth who does not have “no very cordial feelings towards him” (Austen Ch. 3).
Darcy also has his pride and prejudice towards people in general and Elizabeth particularly. Being a son of a well-established family, he treats Elizabeth as a girl from the lower class and even says that she is not attractive enough, so he would not dance with her. This act emphasizes his rudeness. Darcy is not a bad person. He is intelligent and forthright and similar to Elizabeth. The readers can notice that Darcy is an ideal match for Elizabeth.
However, as the result of his social status, his high birth and wealth, Darcy is overly proud. His haughtiness causes the rejection of his courtship by Elizabeth. When he proposes to her, he is driven rather by the rational approach, than about feelings. He understands that this girl is his perfect match. Although he is well-educated, he does not know how to treat women with respect. Thus, speaking about Elizabeth, Darcy says that she is “tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me” (Austen Ch. 3).
Moreover, according to Darcy, no one among women in the dancing room is worth him. He says that “there is not another woman in this room, whom it would not be a punishment to me to stand u with” (Austen Ch. 3). His prejudice is caused by the natural feeling of superiority. On the other hand, this characteristic causes people’s negative attitude towards Darcy.
They consider him as a cruel and repulsive person. His prejudice is based on the social status of people. Thus, according to Darcy, people who have lower social status are not interesting and do not worth his attention. This self-absorbed aristocrat needs someone or something to change his life, his attitude to money, and marriage. Falling in love with Elizabeth, Darcy completely changes his character in a better way.
The relation between passion and reason in the novel
Both characters change their attitude to each other during the novel. However, if Darcy does it fast, Elizabeth needs much more time to see the good sides of Darcy’s personality. Disliking many things in the beginning, Elizabeth starts to reflect rather rational than emotional. She tries to find out the motives of people’s behavior and investigate things. This transformation demonstrates her ability to use her intelligent mind and think rationally.
As the novel progresses, the readers can notice that Elizabeth starts to accept Darcy who demonstrates confesses his feelings to her. If at the beginning of the novel Elizabeth seems more emotional than rational, later, she starts thinking less dependent on the emotions and, therefore, she can see the true attitude of Darcy. On the other hand, Darcy, who previously has rather rational than the emotional mind, confesses that he cannot resist the feelings: “In vain have I struggled, it will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you” (Austen Ch. 34).
The biggest obstacle Elizabeth has to overcome is the struggle between attraction and prejudice. However, Darcy successfully proves his real attitude to Elizabeth helping to end up her earlier judgment and to turn from complete detestation to passionate love. Nevertheless, the marriage of Darcy and Elizabeth is based on the rational approach. Although both of them are full of emotions, they are completely in love, but this feeling required a long time to grow.
Vice versa, the marriage of Lydia and Wickham is more passionate than the marriage of Darcy and Elizabeth. It is a good example of how passion can be over reason. Lydia as passionate about everything she does. Even in the case of the marriage, she does not want to wait and verify the feelings. Lydia and Wickham did not have enough time to get known to each other well. Becoming very passionate, they decide to get married fast do not think about consequences, and leaving Bennets to be embarrassed and confused.
The marriage between Elizabeth and Darcy seems more reasonable and logical. Two people who had to go through the different emotions, thoughts and to overcome their prejudice finally can be honest with each other and open their real feelings. From the beginning of the novel, Elizabeth demonstrates that no one can discourage and dominate her or to insult her pride. When Lady Catherine says that she does not permit Elizabeth to marry Darcy, this only encourages Elizabeth, making her more confident about this step.
At the same time, Darcy also demonstrates his ability to think independently and rationally and does not let different opinions to influence his decision. When Darcy writes a letter to Elizabeth, describing his emotions, he is driven not only by the emotions but rather a reason that prompts him that Elizabeth is worth his attention. This letter is a key moment that helps Elizabeth to realize her misjudgment and forget about prejudice.
The social world depicted in the novel
The social world depicted in the novel is a reality of the 19th century when social status was the main reason of prejudices. In that world, controversy arose over the ideas of the real purpose of marriage. Many families, and especially those with lower status, considered the marriage of their daughters as a chance to improve the social status and financial position. On the other hand, rich people were proud of their high birth and often inappropriately treat other people.
An example of such an attitude is described by Jane Austen. People in the novel consider marriage as a possibility to improve their social rank and for those who already have a high one, it is necessary to marry someone equal. Therefore, the characters of the novel are motivated by this idea. However, on the other hand, the author wanted to emphasize the importance of true feelings and their higher position about money. It is more important for a couple to be equal in their love despite the financial status.
Although the reality of the 19th century when the social status is the basement of everything and people’s attitude is dictated by their financial situation, love can cause significant changes in people’s character and lead to the transformation of the typical point of view. Pride and prejudice can be changed by the pressure of true feelings and all-triumphant love. Being driven by their prejudices, at the beginning of the novel, Elizabeth and Darcy do not like each other. However, when reason wins over emotions, they change their previous attitude and end up, falling in love with each other. A long way of reflection leads Elizabeth and Darcy to understand that their prejudice is unreasonable.
Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. Web.