The title of Austen’s novel, Pride and Prejudice, immediately suggests the overwhelming theme of her novel. However, despite its strengths, the novel has been criticized for not having deep or “weighty” enough themes and purpose. Jane Austen opposes these views by thematically showing how love has the ability to make one overcome their personal Pride and Prejudice. Mary claims, “human nature is particularly prone to (pride) at the beginning of the novel.” This insightful analysis is apparent immediately in the novel. Both Darcy and Elizabeth’s characters show how pride intervenes with love and relationships in Austen’s novel. Darcy is immediately perceived, both by himself and as suggested to the reader, as being superior and snobby. At first glance, Darcy claims that Elizabeth “isn’t handsome enough to tempt (him),” suggesting that her physical appearance and social status aren’t that of his high standards.
His arrogance obviously comes from his wealth, social class, and superiority. Darcy’s comments and attitude cause an immediate tension in the battle of love that arises between him and Elizabeth in the novel. Elizabeth also displays her pride as she takes Darcy’s arrogant comments to heart and begins judging his character. Her judgments are encouraged as she hears about Darcy from Wickham, who states he is “the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world.” This implies Elizabeth’s harsh conceit towards Darcy’s initial appearance. She continues to judge him, suggesting he is “arrogant” and “cruel.” Both Darcy and Elizabeth’s need for personal pride causes the initial stepping stone that stands as an obstacle in the way of their marriage.
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Despite their displays of pride in the novel, Darcy and Elizabeth also show how prejudice creates an obstacle in pursuing love and marriage. Darcy becomes outwardly prejudice towards Elizabeth, her family’s low social status, and the obscurity of her family. He is a lawyer, not wanting to meddle in the happenings of the “inferiors.” Initially, Darcy isn’t able to see past anything but his social status, overlooking everything positive about Elizabeth merely because she wasn’t of the same class. As the novel progresses, Darcy is forced to overcome his prejudice as Elizabeth becomes more and more important to him. Elizabeth forms an immediate prejudice towards Darcy as she defends herself from his cutting remarks.
Darcy then comments on her prejudice, saying that her only goal is to “willfully misunderstand everybody.” Their arrogance and prejudice towards each other were, in the end, countered by the love they felt for one another. They had to overcome their attitudes to give in to their feelings. As the novel matured, so did the characters. Darcy and Elizabeth’s overwhelming love for one another was able to fight through the obstructions of their own personal pride and prejudice. Darcy was able to give way to his feelings and marry Elizabeth despite her social class, poverty, and obscure family. Elizabeth realizes the wrong in her ways as she sees past her first impressions and prejudices, resenting “how despicably (she) acted.” The irresistible feelings of love between them overcame their differences and led to the novel’s happy ending.