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Points to Ponder

Not only is Pride and Prejudice the title of the work, but these words also shape many of the novel's characters. Throughout the book, Darcy's pride is a frequent topic of discussion. His silent arrogance suggests that he finds himself to be better than everyone else in Meryton. However, Darcy is later seen to be generous and agreeable, and many decide that his gentlemanly air and quietness can be mistaken for pride. Prejudice, too, colors Darcy's relationships. Darcy admits that he does not think Jane is a suitable match for Bingley. He blames her family and their low connections, strongly suggesting a prejudice against people of a different social class than his own. Some argue, however, that Lizzy is also proud. She admits that Darcy's pride would have been forgivable, had he not wounded her own pride so badly. Furthermore, it is very hard for Lizzy to admit that she had been wrong about Wickham and Darcy, suggesting even more pride. Lizzy also displays prejudice. After hearing Wickham's story, she automatically believes it, and is convinced of Darcy's faults, without hearing his side of the story. So prejudiced is Lizzy against Darcy, that she refuses to believe anyone who contradicts her picture of him. Only when she is confronted with the truth does she begin to change her mind. Additionally, she is even prejudiced against her own family, firmly believing that Darcy would never entangle himself in a group with such low connections. Still, the title's intention remains unclear. Is Darcy proud and Elizabeth prejudiced? Elizabeth proud and Darcy prejudiced? Or, instead, are they each a little bit of both?

Throughout the novel, Mrs. Bennet is portrayed as the "bad parent" - loud, ill-mannered, and always interfering in her daughters' lives. Mr. Bennet, meanwhile, stands apart from his wife, and is seen as quiet and rational. Furthermore, he is favored by his more sensible daughters. Late in the novel, however, Lizzy realizes that, by neglecting his wife and removing himself from his family's daily affairs, Mr. Bennet has set a poor example of love. Additionally, he has never attempted to subdue Lydia, or to teach his daughters proper behavior, instead expecting them to learn such things from his wife. When they do not live up to his expectations, he only further distances himself from his daughters. What blame, then, does Mr. Bennet deserve for Lydia's disgrace? Has he had an even greater effect on his daughters than his wife has had?

Some critics have argued that Jane Austen's works are too focused on the leisurely pursuits of the upper classes, and that they lack a realistic element. The lower classes make rare appearances in her novels, while war and other important affairs are not mentioned at all. Others scholars, however, point to Austen's personal letters, which reveal a candor similar to that of Elizabeth Bennet and real people who could have served as the templates for her characters. Given the state of the society her characters lived in, these critics argue that it is very plausible that people like the Bennets, Darcys, Bingleys, and Lucases would not be concerned with foreign affairs or the struggling classes. To what extent do you feel Pride and Prejudice touches on reality? Is the novel flawed because it does not address all levels of society?

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Chapters 1, 2, and 3
Chapters 4, 5, and 6
Chapters 7 and 8
Chapters 9 ,10, and 11
Chapters 12, 13, and 14
Chapters 15 and 16
Chapters 17, 18, and 19
Chapters 20, 21, and 22
Chapters 23, 24, and 25
Chapters 26, 27, and 28
Chapters 29, 30, and 31
Chapters 32, 33, and 34
Chapter 35
Chapters 36, 37, and 38
Chapters 39 and 40
Chapters 41 and 42
Chapters 43 and 44
Chapters 45 and 46
Chapters 47 and 48
Chapters 49 and 50
Chapters 51 and 52
Chapters 53, 54, and 55
Chapters 56 and 57
Chapters 58 and 59
Chapters 60 and 61


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