Examples Of Prejudice In Pride And Prejudice

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Darcy’s Societal Critique in Pride and Prejudice
The novel Pride and Prejudice (1813) by Jane Austen centres on Elizabeth Bennet and her family and the society of Austen’s time. Jane Austen believed “that three or four families in a country village is the very thing to work on” (Herbert 5). In Pride and Prejudice, and in Austen’s other works, domestic life takes the centre stage in her critique on society. Julia Prewitt Brown stated in her book on Austen’s novels and social change that readers often believe “that laws, customs, social norms, and preferences are the unexplained assumptions of her world”(24), yet she argued that Austen intended to explain the necessity or rather, expose the weaknesses and criticize societal expectations.
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Not only does Darcy resist the social expectations of Austen’s time and defy the norms of social class, he actually leaves his high connections behind. At first, even in the act of defying the social expectations of the townspeople at the ball, it can be argued that Darcy conforms to another social norm. When he starts getting to know Elizabeth and begins to fall in love with her, Darcy is held back from his own feelings by the knowledge of Elizabeth’s inferior connections. A wealthy upper class man should marry a woman of his own standing, his own class. However, later in the novel, when Darcy and Elizabeth discuss the letter, he states how wrong he was to judge Elizabeth based on her family. Darcy was in this way prejudiced towards the lower classes, nevertheless he started to overcome this prejudice because he fell in love with Elizabeth. Then after the repercussions of his first proposal and Elizabeth’s rejection he truly overcomes the teachings he got from his higher connections:

Painful recollections will intrude which cannot, which ought not, to be repelled. I have been a selfish being all my life, in practice, though not in principle. As a child I was taught what was right, but I was not taught to correct my temper. I was given good principles, but left to follow them in pride and conceit. (Austen
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