The majority of the characters in ‘Pride and Prejudice’, in the end, change their attitudes in order to achieve fulfilment. Although fulfilment is unique for ech individual: Austen’s third narrative style (even with Elizabeth) helps the extent to which each character achieves what they desire.
Elizabeth is a central character in the novel and at first comes across as intelligent and mature; yet further on we begin to see Elizabeth’s faults. Elizabeth says after only a brief acquaintance with Darcy, “He is not at all liked in Hertfordshire”, which comes across as very prejudiced. Elizabeth makes this comment abut Darcy although she hardly knows him. However Elizabeth would most likely have a problem with other people being prejudiced and so this also makes her hypocritical. Elizabeth is being very unfair towards Darcy but has no justified reason for her negative thoughts towards him.
Austen uses irony very effectively when Elizabeth comments at the Lucas’ party, “Mr Darcy is all politeness.” Elizabeth is very witty in saying this because she is playing Mr Darcy’s game - hard to get. She is being deliberately ironic and it makes her sound sophisticated and in control. Also this is said towards the start of the novel and there is further irony when in the end, Darcy does become a man of all politeness’ and she ends up marrying him.
Elizabeth’s main problem (causing her initial refusal of marriage with Darcy) is her stubbornness. Once she has a thought in her mind she is adamant and forgets that others could get hurt. From the beginning she has something against Darcy and so the arrival of Mr Wickham, and the news revealed about their past, makes Elizabeth even more eager to hurt Darcy. However Elizabeth sometimes gets too carried away and ignores others’ feelings and becomes selfish, in the way that as long as she is happy, she has problems seeing things from perspectives other then her own. When Darcy does propose to Elizabeth for the first time, her reply is, “I have never desired your good opinion, and you have certainly bestowed it most willingly.” Darcy is very distressed by this reply and this is easy to understand, nevertheless, Elizabeth carries on saying more hurtful things, not at all concerned about Darcy’s feelings. She wants to repay him for the injuries she perceives that he has done t herself and her family.
Towards the end of the novel, something changes Elizabeth’s mind about her feelings towards Darcy upon receipt of his letter. She soon realises the lies told about Darcy and Wickham’s past and ceases to be so judgemental, recognising the strength of her love for Darcy. This is a surprise for a lot of people, especially Jane who knows how much Elizabeth strongly hated Darcy, her response is; “You are joking Lizzie. This cannot be! – engaged to Mr Darcy!” This proves how Elizabeth has immensely changed her attitude throughout the novel in order to achieve satisfaction. The short sentences and use of exclamation marks adding force to Jane’s reaction!
Mr Darcy is a man of great fortune and high status. His pride sometimes can come across as ignorant and can sometimes be mistaken for his reserved attitude, such as when he says, “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me.” Although to most people what Mr Darcy says is ignorant, I think that he is clueless about unfamiliar socialising and is a very shy character. However, he is later (quite rightly) chastised by Elizabeth for bot troubling himself to learn and apply the appropriate social etiquette in situations he finds uncomfortable.
Further on in the novel, Mr Darcy becomes more acquainted with Elizabeth and we begin to see the more agreeable side of him. Georgiana (Darcy’s sister) means the world to Darcy and he is incredibly concerned for the welfare of her. The fact that Darcy wants to introduce her to his love proves his strength of love for her. “Will you allow me, or do I ask too much, to introduce my sister to your acquaintance during your stay at Lambton?” He asks so politely something of Lizzie which is more than he would have done in the beginning of the novel. Also the fact that he is asking Elizabeth’s permission to introduce his sister is very surprising as it would be unusual for a man of Darcy’s status to be with Elizabeth in early 19th century England. This is certainly not an anticipated behaviour we see from Darcy and has greatly changed from the start.
In the end of the novel, we see that Mr Darcy learns to overcome his self pride and understand women more and becomes more comfortable around them. “In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” This is probably one of the most famous proposals of all time in literature and it shows us Darcy’s tender, sweet side that at first no one would suppose Darcy to have.
Unlike Elizabeth and Darcy, Jane doesn’t seem to change her behaviour at all throughout the book, as from the very beginning she displays a positive attitude to love and is patient and kind. “[Jane] is not acting by design”. Jane seems to fall in love with Bingley, but because of Darcy led – ‘misunderstanding’ they are unable to see each other for a while. However because of Jane’s considerate and good natured attitude she finds it easy to put behind her and this is how Jane doesn’t change, but stays as pleasant and agreeable as in the beginning. Jane
Mrs Bennet is another character in the novel whose attitude doesn’t change throughout. Her intentions from the very beginning are to have her daughters married. “As single man of large fortune must be in want of a wife- what a fine thing for our girls.” Mrs Bennet annoying and demanding behaviour in order to get her daughters husbands is reflected in her words and actions which are very embarrassing right through the entire novel. However in the end she does achieve happiness (ironically) as her daughters do become married to rich, young, handsome men.
All the way through the novel, many of the characters have to change their attitudes in order to in the end achieve fulfilment. Nevertheless, there are one or two characters that don’t need to change their behaviour because they already have everything they could want and more would be a bonus or they are too caught up in their own worlds that they cannot change for anyone because of their stubborn attitude.