The novel “Pride and prejudice”, by Jane Austen has been one of the world’s most popular novels since its original publication in 1813 with the story of the Elizabeth and her relationship with Mr. Darcy (Between the Covers, 2011). Jane’s story is still very much relevant and actual even after more than 200 years of existence, moreover, author itself grew from the regular novelist to one of the most celebrated icons in the world’s classic literature.
The novel takes place in England around the 1800s and criticizes the social atmosphere of a late eighteenth-century and early nineteenth-century Britain, through the characters and the story.
The main characters in this novel are Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. Elizabeth, who is a protagonist in the novel, is the second daughter in the family. She is an intelligent and witted person and also one of the most known female characters in English classic literature. Mr. Darcy, on the other hand, is the middle aged charming gentleman from an affluent family who proposes to Elizabeth but receives the rejection.
Austen wittily uses the opening line 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 wife” (Austen, 3). As the title of this novel tells us, the story is about vanity, pride and prejudice, however, Jane Austen’s original title for the novel was First Impressions.
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On the one hand, there is Elizabeth’s prejudice about Darcy. The first impression is always deceitful, and this is exactly what happens in the Austen’s story. Elizabeth’s first impression was based on one-sided, unfair assumptions, different rumors and some George Wickham’s stories about Darcy’s character.
On the other hand, Darcy’s pride is widely shown to the reader. He is absolutely confident in himself and sure that no woman around him would turn down the proposal from him. He is so sure in being the best option for anyone around, however, to his astonishment Elizabeth rejects him. Darcy clearly defines the reasons for his prejudice: ” Do you expect me to thank you for this extraordinary offer of marriage? Am I supposed to feel flattered that you have so overcome your aversions to my family that you are ready to marry into it?” (Austen, 34).
Despite Elizabeth’s initial prejudice against him, based on the first impression, she realizes that Darcy is a very noble and gentle man. Elizabeth’s impression about Mr. Darcy’s aristocracy changes along the story. Readers also start understanding that the main male character is a thoughtful man, he prefers reading to social gatherings is quite bored with the extra attention of young women around him.
The author also highlights an interesting social issue of different levels of classes inside the society. There are two kinds of people in the novel: those who are crediting themselves with financial abilities and appearance and those who respect the values of morality, kindness, intelligence and good breeding.
To sum up, Jane Austen in her novel masterfully illustrates the reader the transformation of Mr. Darcy’s character comparing to other static characters; she clears away all initial prejudice about wealth and social class in the society. Moreover, the author develops the important issue of women’s rights in the nineteenth century and indirectly criticizes the 18th century England’s rural society.
The long-expected end of the novel shows us the happy marriage of Elizabeth and Darcy even though no one could expect it from the beginning (Austen, 164).
Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. New York: W.W.Norton. 2001. Print
Between the Covers. (2011). Book review: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – Between the Covers. [online] Available at: