Pride and Prejudice is the story of human souls which is easily and gracefully told by the famous English writer Jane Austen. Having stood the test of several epochs, the novel remains one of the best in the world literature. The original title of the novel is First Impressions which embodies one of the main themes of the book: first impression can be deceiving. From the opening and to the closing line the author shows that it is not appropriate to judge a person on first acquaintance. The main character of the novel Elizabeth is misled by her former impression: throughout the main part of the book she hates a man who in the end turns out to be the only person worth to be lived for: “… I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry” (Austen, 1813).
People always tend to take at face value words of a person with pleasant appearance and manners, and do not want to understand those who are not accomodating enough. Young Elizabeth misjudges Mr. Darsey at the beginning of their acquaintance as she hears his words about her appearance: “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me” (1813). Here can be traced a reciprocal antipathy based on the first impression: “From the very beginning— from the first moment, I may almost say— of my acquaintance with you, your manners, impressing me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others … ” (1813). However, their misjudgments change as they learn more about each other.
The deceptiveness of first impression pursues not only the characters of the novel but the reader as well. From the first description of Mr. Darcy one learns that “… Mr. Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien…”(1813). By contrast, in the same chapter appears that “… the ladies declared he was much handsomer than Mr. Bingley, and he was looked at with great admiration for about half the evening, till his manners gave a disgust, which turned the tide of his popularity; for he was discovered to be proud, to be above his company…” (1813). Elizabeth’s mother says of her second daughter: “Lizzy is not a bit better than the others; and I am sure she is not half so handsome as Jane, nor half so good-humored as Lydia” (1813). However, soon the reader gets to know that Elizabeth is a charmingly beautiful and deep person.
“You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression” (2008), says James Uleman, a psychology professor at New York University. However, it is possible to make a good second impression as people can change their opinion about others. In Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen shows the reader that the first impression is not always correct, in fact, it is deceptive. At the beginning of the acquaintance Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are prejudiced against each other. However, it turns out that their first impressions are mistaken. It is necessary to remember that not only a bad impression can be wrong but also a good one: “Charm was a scheme for making strangers like and trust a person immediately, no matter what the charmer had in mind” (Vonnegut, 1986)…
Compare female and male attitude to marriage by analyzing main male and female characters in the novel.
In her novel Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen shows many different characters, who have their specific features and views. Taking into account specific of the novel, it can be interesting to consider female and male attitude to marriage in the novel. Austen shows that there can be different attitudes to marriage between men and women. All they have different main points about the marriage – for one the most important is love, other pay attention to the financial situation or social status, and some shows the balance between the opposite views.
One of the first characters which the readers meet in Austen’s novel and whose attitude to marriage they can see is Mrs. Bennet. One can see that she is excited about Mr. Bingley, “a single man of large fortune; four or five thousand a year” (Austen). The emphasis that Mrs. Bennet makes, talking about Mr. Bingley’s income can make one think that she is interested in a good catch for her daughters, and it is true, but “good” does not mean only wealthy in Mrs. Bennet’s case. She also tells about Mr. Bingley that “it is very likely that he may fall in love” with one of her daughters (Austen). In this way, Mrs. Bennet also pays attention to the aspect of feelings in marriage. Mrs. Bennet pays attention to the financial situation and aspect of feelings in marriage. However, she considers marriages of her daughters, and for her, they have two aspects – necessary achievements of her daughters, their transition to a more prestigious status, and holiday that accompanies it. Such attitudes show an interesting mix of seriousness and frivolity in Mrs. Bennet’s view on marriage.
In Austen’s novel, there are two characters whose attitude to marriage can represent two different sides of Mrs. Bennet’s view. The first of those characters is Lydia, one of Mrs. Bennet’s daughters. She pays much attention to the formal moments of celebration related to marriage. She tells to her sisters “how I should like to be married before any of you; and then I would chaperon you about to all the balls” (Austen). Describing her marriage she tells that she “was thinking, you may suppose, of my dear Wickham. I longed to know whether he would be married in his blue coat” (Austen). These few moments shows Lydia’s general frivolity attitude to marriage. She fell in love with Wickham and forgot about the material side and about the decency of her time, living with Wickham before the wedding.
The opposite attitude to marriage shows Charlotte Lucas. She claims that “happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance. If the dispositions of the parties are ever so well known to each other or ever so similar beforehand, it does not advance their felicity in the least” (Austen). She pays no attention to the feelings in the context of marriage, and in such way, she makes her own choice. Charlotte tells that she never was romantic and ask only a comfortable home, “considering Mr. Collins’s character, connection, and a situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is as fair as most people can boast on entering the marriage state” (Austen). Charlotte’s attitude to marriage can be called the marriage of convenience but in a positive sense. It is not a choice of a person who is ready for anything for money, but the choice of the person who is guided only by the mind, not by the feelings.
The character of Elizabeth Bennet represents a balance between mind and feelings. In opposite to her mother, Mrs. Bennet, and her sister Lydia, Elizabeth has no frivolity in her attitude to marriage. She does not think about decorations at the wedding or color of groom’s coat. Thinking about marriages of people around her, Elizabeth pays attention to the different aspects. She clearly understood the importance of a financial situation, but it is not the most important point for her. She refused Mr. Collins, telling that they can not make happy each other. She also refused even more wealthy groom, Mr. Darcy, even though he is not only rich but have a better social position than Elizabeth. Marriage with him could be very profitable for Elizabeth but she refused him because she did not like his personality. Elizabeth agreed to marry him later when she saw that he changed and he is not such negative person as seems at the first time he proposed her. Considering Elizabeth’s views, it was noticed that she “believes that affection, friendship, and respect are major elements of a happy and strong marriage” (Blom). In this way, Elizabeth shows the balance of opposites – she looks for a person with proper social and financial status, she would not quit all for love like her sister Lydia. However, Elizabeth also looks for proper personality whom she could love and respect.
What is interesting, Mr. Darcy pays much attention to the feelings in his attitude to marriage. He understood that he has the better social position than Elizabeth and the way how and when he speaks about that make her angry. However, despite this inequality, he wants her to be his wife. He starts his proposition with words “My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you” (Austen). It is important that Elizabeth refusal and an indication of his disadvantages makes him change and prove her that he is not the person she thinks he is. Mr. Darcy pays the main attention to feelings in his attitude to marriage – however, one can pay attention to the fact that Mr. Darcy is wealthy enough and have enough high social position to do not worry about these points.
In Austen’s novel, there is a character who, in opposite to Darcy, pays much attention to the financial situation. Elizabeth found out that Wickham’s affection for Lydia was “not equal to Lydia’s for him” (Austen). In the novel, it is noted that “Wickham still cherished the hope of more effectually making his fortune by marriage in some other country” (Austen). Even though he did not leave a country and married Lydia, it is clear that he did it because of benefit, not because of love. In this way, Wickham represents a marriage of convenience in the negative sense – just because of money. Without Darcy’s interruption and proposition, Wickham would just leave Lydia with a ruined reputation.
One more character, Mr. Collins, represents marriage because of social views. He has a similar attitude to marriage with Charlotte Lucas, who becomes his wife. Collins tells about marriage “my reasons for marrying are, first, that I think it a right thing for every clergyman in easy circumstances (like myself) to set the example of matrimony in his parish” (Austen). The reason he chose as first clearly shows that for Collins marriage is neither about feelings nor about the financial situation. For him, marriage is about the proper social status that he wants to have. One can compare the way Collins starts his proposition with the way Darcy did it. Darcy started with his feelings to a concrete woman when Collins started with his reasons for marriage, and this shows that personality of a wife is not very important for him – it must be proper woman with proper behavior, but for him it does not matter which proper woman to choose if there are several such ones.
In this way, Austen shows that attitudes to marriage can be very different. For Lydia and Mr. Darcy the most important are feelings, even though they are very different characters. Mr. Collins and Charlotte Lucas shows the positive variant of the marriage of convenience – marriage caused by reasons of mind, not feelings. Wickham represents the marriage because of money, and Mrs. Bennet and her daughter Elizabeth shows mix and balance of different attitudes to marriage.
Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. 2011, https://www.ucm.es/data/cont/docs/119-2014-04-09-Pride%20and%20Prejudice.pdf. Accessed 26 Aug. 2017.
Blom, Elin. Contrasting Attitudes Toward Marriage In Pride and Prejudice: Elizabeth Bennet’s Disregard For The Contemporary Marital Conventions. 2015. Accessed 26 Aug. 2017.
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Below you will find five outstanding thesis statements for “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen that can be used as essay starters or paper topics. All five incorporate at least one of the themes found in Jane Austen's novel “Pride and Prejudice” and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements for “Pride and Prejudice” offer a short summary of different elements that could be important in an essay but you are free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot or themes to them. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes from “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen at the bottom of the page, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent paper.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1: Elizabeth’s Pride and Darcy’s Prejudice
The pride and the prejudice referred to in the title of this Jane Austen novel prepare the reader for the character flaws of the main characters, Elizabeth and Darcy. Elizabeth’s pride and Darcy’s prejudice prevent the two from recognizing and admitting their love for one another. Write an explanatory or expository essay on “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen in which you detail how these character flaws are managed so that the characters can overcome the judgments and opinions that they have formed about each other and ultimately experience love together. You may wish to also reflect upon the social and historical factors which made these character flaws so common, identifying, for example, the role that social status played in relationships at that time.Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #2: Contesting Social Propriety: The Women of Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice takes place in a society and in a historical moment that defined women’s roles and abilities narrowly. A woman was expected to be and behave a certain way, and deviations from the social norm were rebuked, often severely. Examine the various female characters and the small and large ways in which they challenge these strict social roles that have been assigned to them. You may wish to consider one character and go in depth, or to consider a wide range of characters and multiple transgressions. Be sure to include the consequences of these transgressions. Make a case for what you believe Austen’s motive to have been in presenting these episodes to her reader.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3: The Function of Journeys and the Contrast Between Indoors and Outdoors
The settings of the events that take place in Pride and Prejudice establish tone, mood, and an orientation to the social class and conditions of the characters. The settings also serve important symbolic functions, however. Consider the ways in which indoor and outdoor settings are contrasted in this novel and identify the function that each type of setting plays and meaning it represents. Be sure to explain how the various journeys between these spaces signify certain developments in the novel. In particular, be sure to discuss how journeys represent and precipitate transitions in the characters’ relationships.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #4: Jane Austen’s Satiric Treatment of the Wealthy
Social class is an important marker of the characters’ conditions and the quality of their relationships in Pride and Prejudice. Austen seems to reserve her satiric wit for an especially critical treatment of wealthier characters. Choose one or more of these characters and compare/contrast how Austen treats them versus how she treats the characters from other social strata. Explain whether the outcomes of the novel support an overall statement with respect to Austen’s opinion about the wealthy.
Thesis Statement/Essay Topic #5: The Rejected Title
Before the novel was published as Pride and Prejudice, Austen’s working title for this text was First Impressions. Consider which title is more evocative and effective in supporting the thematic development of the novel. Once you have chosen the title you prefer, write an argumentative essay in which you defend your choice. Explain why the title you have chosen is most effective.
This list of important quotations from “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen will help you work with the essay topics and thesis statements above by allowing you to support your claims. All of the important quotes from Jane Austen's novel listed here correspond, at least in some way, to the paper topics above and by themselves can give you great ideas for an essay by offering quotes and explanations about other themes, symbols, imagery, and motifs than those already mentioned and explained. Aside from the thesis statements above, these quotes from “Pride and Prejudice” alone can act as essay questions or study questions as they are all relevant to the text in an important way. All quotes contain page numbers as well. Look at the bottom of the page to identify which edition of the text by Jane Austen they are referring to.
“[Mrs. Bennet] was a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper. When she was discontented she fancied herself nervous. The business of her life was to get her daughters married; its solace was visiting and news." (226)
“Mr. Darcy walked off; and Elizabeth remained with no very cordial feelings towards him. She told the story however with great spirit among her friends; for she had a lively, playful disposition, which delighted in any thing ridiculous." (230)
“[Mr. Darcy] is a most disagreeable, horrid man, not at all worth pleasing. So high and so conceited that there was no enduring him! He walked here, and he walked there, fancying himself so very great! Not handsome enough to dance with! I wish you had been there, my dear, to have given him one of your set downs. I quite detest the man." (231)
“…Elizabeth was far from suspecting that she was herself becoming an object of some interest….Mr. Darcy had at first scarcely allowed her to be pretty; he had looked at her without admiration at the ball; and when they next met, he looked at her only to criticize. But no sooner had he made it clear to himself and his friends that she had hardly a good feature in her face, than he began to find it was rendered uncommonly intelligent by the beautiful expression of her dark eyes." (236)
“Though he had detected with a critical eye more than one failure of perfect symmetry in her form, he was forced to acknowledge her figure to be light and pleasing; and inspite of his asserting that her manners were not those of the fashionable world, he was caught by their easy playfulness." (236)
“…when nothing better offered, a walk to Merryton was necessary to amuse their morning hours and furnish conversation for the evening; and however bare of news the country in general might be, they always contrived to learn some….." (239)
“I have faults enough but they are not, I hope, of understanding. My temper I dare not vouch for….I cannot forget the follies and vices of others as soon as I ought, nor their offences against myself. My feelings are not puffed about with every attempt to move them. My temper would perhaps be called resentful. My good opinion, once lost, is lost for ever." (257)
“These is, I belief, in every disposition a tendency to some particular evil, a natural defect, which not even the best education can overcome." (257)
“And your defect is a propensity to hate everybody…. And yours,…is willfully to misunderstand them." (257)
“Elizabeth, as they drove along, watched for the first appearance of Pemberley Woods with some perturbation, and when at length they turned in at the lodge, her spirits were in a high flutter." (361)
Reference: Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. In The Complete Novels of Jane Austen. New York: Penguin, 1983