Essay on Prejudice and Pride in Pride and Prejudice

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Prejudice and Pride in Pride and Prejudice


In any literary work the title and introduction make at least some allusion to the important events of the novel. With Pride and Prejudice, Austen takes this convention to the extreme, designing all of the first and some of the second half of the novel after the title and the first sentence. The concepts of pride, prejudice, and "universally acknowledged truth" (51), as well as the interpretation of those concepts, are the central focus of the novel. They dictate the actions of almost all the major characters (not just Darcy and Elizabeth), and foreshadow all of the major events in the novel, especially in the first few chapters, involving the first ball at Netherfield. While Darcy
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"Proud" summarizes the general demeanor of Lady Catherine de Bourgh herself, as she looks upon the world down the length of her nose. "Some time we shall be happy to hear [Elizabeth play]," she informs Mr. Collins and Darcy. Then she adds, "Our instrument is a capable one, probably superior to [Elizabeth's]" (199). Pride assures Elizabeth that her first impressions of Darcy are indisputable. Thus, while only Darcy seems to act as the embodiment of pride, the other characters are not immune to it.



Just as the characters unknowingly follow Darcy's example of pride, they commit Elizabeth's crucial mistake, prejudging people (especially Darcy) according to horribly inadequate experience. Elizabeth's positive judgement of Wickham and negative one of Darcy prevent her from seeing Wickham's devious and whimsical nature and Darcy's honest efforts to improve despite the apparent lack of incentive. Like Elizabeth, the rest of the Bennets, and indeed the rest of those living in the vicinity of Meryton, believe Darcy to be a wholly disagreeable man. (In fact, he began as such, but even when he began to change, everyone refused to realize it, and maintained their dislike of him because of their previous judgements.) Mrs. Bennet is prejudiced against all other mothers with young daughters, believing them to be just as ambitious and scheming as she herself is. When told that Mrs. Long promised to introduce the Bennet sisters to Bingley, Mrs. Bennet hisses…