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Exploring the Theme of Pride and Prejudice

Powerful Essays
How does Jane Austen explore the theme of Pride and Prejudice in the

novel?

The original title of Jane Austen's novel, "Pride and Prejudice" was

"First impressions". From this title it is clear that Jane Austen

wanted to convey to the reader the importance of first impressions and

how we form them so quickly. Other themes of the novel include pride,

prejudice, conceit and vanity. Most people have these feelings or

opinions without even realising it. Pride is a feeling of satisfaction

that you have done well, however, it can also mean that you feel

better than others. Pride can be linked to vanity, which can be

described as a feeling of excessive pride regarding aspects of

yourself, for example, your looks or abilities. Prejudice is an unfair

dislike of another person because of your opinions about an aspect of

their lives, such as their religion or race. Mary Bennet gives this

definition of vanity within the novel. "Vanity and pride are different

things… A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more

to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what others think of us." This

is important to the text as it shows that vanity is an important issue

to the characters in the novel and it also shows the reader that

vanity is likely to be one of the themes explored.

The themes of pride and prejudice are explored through characters and

events in the novel, which I will now discuss.

Initially Elizabeth, the romantic heroin, harbours a deep dislike to

Darcy owing to the fact that he appears to be hostile towards her

family and others with lower social connections and less wealth. Darcy

is described as being "proud" and said to have a "forbidding,

disagreeable countenance", meaning that he appears to ...

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... Austen was suggesting that before we judge other people

we should consider ourselves. For example, when Elizabeth thought that

Darcy was prejudiced against her, she formed her own prejudice against

him. Although she was angry that he was judging her and her family

without knowing them, she was in fact doing exactly the same, forming

a negative opinion of him because of his appearance, social class and

gossip. For example, before getting angry that people are judging you,

stop to consider whether or not you are also judging people. People

often don't realise they have prejudices and make these first

impressions and opinions based on rumours or appearances. I think that

Austen was suggesting that if everyone could overcome their prejudice

and their vain pride like Elizabeth and Darcy, then new relationships

could develop and everybody would be much happier.
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