The novel “Pride and Prejudice” written by Jane Austen focuses on the love story between Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. They have to overcome many predicaments in order to get their happy ever after. Her personality, misinterpretations, and her taking a part in being prideful and prejudice play a big part in the development of their relationship. Possessing pride can be described as having a high opinion upon themselves and prejudice is having a preconceived opinion upon somebody else. The difficulties of finding true love in the 19th-century are caused by people who have stereotypes and different morals. From start to finish the story has many instances where examples of irony, themes, and symbols are used to create a more engaging story for the audience
The title of the novel holds irony within it. It is Darcy who is supposed to represent ‘Pride’ and Elizabeth who is supposed to represent ‘Prejudice’. Being that they have differences towards each other they complain that they each have an exorbitant amount of pride and prejudice. Dramatic irony is placed when Elizabeth criticizes Jane for being blind to people’s intentions. Elizabeth’s judgment towards Darcy is ironic because she is unaware of his genuine personality due to the prejudice she has set on him since the first day they met each other. Also, Darcy was unaware of his love for Elizabeth when he declined to dance with her. Furthermore, when the Gardiners have a discussion about a future wife of Pemberley they don’t know that Darcy had proposed to Elizabeth. The main irony in the story is situational irony, it is used when Darcy starts falling in love with Elizabeth. Darcy who once called Elizabeth barely tolerable and not pretty enough for him to dance with her is now admitting that “… it is many months since I have considered her as one of the handsomest women of my acquaintance” (Austen 294). Similarly Elizabeth starts off hating Darcy but ends up marrying him. When Mr.Collins proposed to Elizabeth she told him that she protests to be the kind of person to decline the first proposal and agree to the second but she contradicts herself when she accepts Darcy’s second proposal.
The theme of love and marriage emerges when the first encounter between Elizabeth and Darcy caused mutually negative impressions based on their qualities. Their love story starts with disagreements and complications but ends with understanding. Darcy founded Elizabeth to be insufferable but then quickly began to fall for her wit and confidence. His unpleasant proposal towards Elizabeth caused her to believe her prejudice of him is correct. Darcy learns to ignore his pride and accepts the way Elizabeth and her family are. She also swallows the pride she takes in her judgment of people’s characters. Elizabeth finally realizes why Darcy acts the way he does and accepts the way he shows his love towards her. Genuine love is seen as a strength separate from society and one that can defeat challenging situations. Other couples present a different outlook of love in marriage. The reality of marriage is shown in the story when Charlotte Lucas marries Mr.Collins for his money and convenience. She has no hopes of finding true love and he is already looking for a wife since he was recently rejected. This demonstrates that she believes that marriage does not always require love. People in the 19th century “universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife” (Austen 6). Financial security and social standing come first in marriage. Another theme that is prominent within the story is the importance of a reputation, especially a woman’s reputation. A woman is expected to behave in a certain way in order to still have a position in the higher class. They are expected to be submissive and obedient towards men in a higher power. Stepping out social norms makes a woman vulnerable to being exiled from society. This is shown when Elizabeth walks to Netherfield and arrives with her skirt dirty from her journey there. Miss Bingley and her friends gossip about the situation giving her a bad reputation for having no manners. In addition to that, when Lydia runs away with Wickham she was expected to come back married or else she would be placed out of the social class. Her actions disgraced the Bennet family name. The community suggested threatening to disown Lydia and consider her dead. Darcy stepped in and paid Wickham to marry Lydia. His drastic actions emphasize the importance society has put on a woman’s reputation. If the Bennet family name was ruined he could have never hoped to marry Elizabeth because of his reputation. The marriage will forever be tainted by shame because everyone knew that Lydia and Wickham lived together for a short amount of time before marrying.
There are several symbols included in the story but the main two are estates and the outdoors. Two things that symbolize social class in this story are the houses and estates. The larger the house the superior it is. It allows for more guests to visit that have a higher social class. An estate can also represent the owner and financial wealth. One can see the significance of the size of a house by the reaction of the character. An example is when visitors took a tour of Rosings it caused them to be impressed. Rosings produces a feeling of inferiority in the viewer. Lady Catherine de Bourgh, the owner of the estate Rosings, is arrogant and has a presumptuous attitude, she triggers the same feelings towards her visitors. Pemberley, on the contrary, is equally impressive but also captivates its visitors. Elizabeth started to have strong intimate emotions towards Darcy when she visited Pemberley. It was a crucial moment in their connection. She becomes enchanted by its elegance and charm. The estate gives off a homey and welcoming atmosphere. The care that goes into sustaining its image is visible. When Elizabeth describes the stream as “some natural importance was swelled into greater, but without any artificial appearance. Its banks were neither formal nor falsely adorned” (Austen 267) she really means Darcy instead of the stream. She believes that Darcy has a natural significance that is increased by his pride but counteracts with his pure honesty and lack of false representation. Like the stream, he is not untruthfully liked. Elizabeth met Darcy while crossing a bridge, this symbolizes the hole in their misconception and the social statuses that lay before them, their adoration for each other will develop beyond the bridge. As Elizabeth starts to see Darcy for who he really is, he starts to see Elizabeth for who she really is when she is free of social obligations and expectancies. As a result of Darcy’s high social class he appears unapproachable in the beginning but he justifies his heartfelt personality when people become more acquainted with him. As the readers get to know Elizabeth it is known that she loves the outdoors. The outdoors symbolize freedom. She is always happy when she can explore nature, particularly when she is alone. Elizabeth values her walks in garden paths because it keeps her away from the confinements of society. She gets excited when there is only space for one person to walk on a pathway because she can find her personal peace. When Elizabeth let Darcy walk with her at a Pemberleys walkway, it was meaningful. A portrayal of their suitable marriage was them walking right next to each other cozily.
Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” is a story of a journey taken by a couple that was never expected by any. Because of the obstacles, they had to go through it made them have a stronger relationship. Elizabeth found herself among all the criticism and expectancies from the social class. She didn’t care about others’ opinions and stayed true to herself. The author gave the readers many things to discuss from the impotence of a women’s reputation to the meaning of property. Jane Austen used irony, themes, and symbols to show the power of love. True love can conquer all.
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