March 25, 2010
Essay: Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen introduces the theme of marriage in the opening sentence, “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife” (1). Austen admonished this reasoning and believed that one should only marry for love. She believed that marriage should not occur on the grounds of superficial feelings, pressures to marry, or wealth and social status. It is love, and only this, which enable the characters of the novel to be happily married. The two main characters, Elizabeth and Darcy, undergo changes both in attitude and circumstances and in the end truly discover themselves. Elizabeth fosters her own personal dislike of Darcy after his comment at the Merryton Ball: “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me” (13). Elizabeth overhears this comment and is left feeling like she took the brunt of his arrogance. This comment is the greatest cause of Elizabeth’s prejudice against Darcy. A major turning point occurs after Darcy’s proposal and the subsequent letter in which Elizabeth realizes: “vanity, not love, has been my folly…Till this moment, I never knew myself” (171). As she examines her family, she realizes her own blindness to Wickham’s account of Darcy, and it becomes apparent that Darcy was cautious to associate himself with her. It is this introspection of her own actions and prejudice that allows her true love for him to blossom. In addition, after Elizabeth’s comments about his attitude during the first proposal, he acknowledges that he was too selfish and admits that: “By [her he] was properly humbled” (297). Darcy acted the way he did because that was what he was brought up to believe on account of his wealth and status. The first proposal to Elizabeth is a valuable lesson Darcy learns about himself and recognizes these faults in his character. Had they not learned...