The novel, Pride and Prejudice, is a story about the romantic adventures of five sisters in 18th century England, by Jane Austen. There are two major themes in Pride and Prejudice, which are those of pride and prejudice. Pride is the high opinion of one’s own worth or possessions. The other theme, prejudice is an opinion formed without taking the time and care to judge something fairly. The novel uses plot, the characters of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and Miss Elizabeth Bennet, and the status of women and their social standing to portray the themes of the novel.
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a good wife,” is the first line in the book. It is evident from every point of the novel that all people care about is marrying into a higher social rank, both for status and wealth and they in fact take great pride in this practice. Women had few rights and advantages. If their fathers died, his inheritance would go to the next surviving male relative, this is a prime example of prejudice. The daughters had no chance of supporting themselves unless the married well and were ultimately dependent on their husbands. Unmarried women would become governesses and live as dependents of their family, other relatives, or their employers. The governess position gave them little social status, which opened them up to much prejudice. The scene towards the beginning of the book when Mr. Darcy insults Elizabeth at the ball, is another example of pride and prejudice, in social classes. Whereas, Mr.Darcy felt that he was too high in status to dance with the likes of Elizabeth. The Bennet family is proof enough of prejudice in the social ladder. The Bennet family, although wealthy, was looked down upon in relation to their social status. They were seen as low on the social ladder, because they had “new money.” Lady Catherine, is another example of pride and prejudice displayed through social status, “Now and then they were honored with a call from her ladyship, and nothing escaped her observation” Lady Catherine noticed flaws in everyone and used her position and title of “Lady” to rise above everyone and make herself seem superior to others. Her position gives her pride, which she flaunts it in a very negative way. The main concepts of pride and prejudice in the story are displayed through social classes.
There are many examples throughout the novel to support the running theme and title of the novel, Pride and Prejudice. Pride in not always a good thing, it can lead to arrogance and contempt very quickly. Prejudice is not necessarily a bad thing either, and is never unavoidable, but sometimes disliking a person and not being friends with them works out to an advantage. Jane Austens dramatization of the theme of pride and prejudice, through an enlightening plot along with her choice of main characters, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, demonstrates how the social status of women and/or men for that matter could lead to such pride and prejudice.