The Importance of the Title in Pride and Prejudice

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On the surface, Jane Austen's 1813 novel, Pride and Prejudice tells the story of how three of the five daughters of a family living in 19th century England become engaged to be married. Underlying themes of the story, however, reveal a message about growing up and the judgments of people based on either outward appearances, behavior, or secondhand information from another person. The title of the novel proves to be extremely fitting, as Elizabeth, the main protagonist, learns that too much pride, along with many unjustified prejudices come to result in ignorance as to who a person really is inside and renders one incapable of finding true love.

Elizabeth is introduced as the second eldest and prettiest of the five Bennet daughters. Towards the beginning of the novel, the Bennet daughters attend a ball in Netherfield with hopes of finding a man that they could perhaps end up marrying. At this ball, Elizabeth is briefly introduced to a man named Mr. Darcy. Mr. Darcy is a rich and prideful man who is misunderstood by main characters throughout most of the novel. Upon becoming acquainted, Elizabeth uses first impressions and opinions taken from others to form her own opinion of Mr. Darcy as a prideful, pretentious snob with whom she wants nothing to do with. Elizabeth cites his arrogance as Mr. Darcy's major flaw after others influence her opinions. One of Elizabeth's closest friends says of Darcy, "I beg you would not put it into Lizzy's head to be vexed by such ill treatment; for he is such a disagreeable man that it would be quite a misfortune to be liked by him" (pg 18). This statement shows that Elizabeth was influenced by others to make negative opinions of Darcy, without taking the time to get to know him herself. One of t...

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...e storyline and characters well, the decision to use Pride and Prejudice, backed by more fundamental and meaningful examples was an excellent one. Mary, one of the younger Bennet daughters explains early in the novel that "vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us" (pg 19). By the end of the novel, Elizabeth learns that having these prejudices against Darcy for one simple character trait, vanity (in which she ironically contained herself) was wrong, especially since it wasn't based on firsthand experience. Through Elizabeth, Austen conveys the message of how first impressions and judgments can quickly form false prejudices and uses the title, Pride and Prejudice to support this message.

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