Jane Austen remained successful in portraying the theme of human nature as well as themes of manners of the people of her era and adding quotes on life in Pride and Prejudice. She knows the human psyche; hence, she describes it in this novel. There is a lot of variety in the novel so far as its thematic concept is concerned yet Jane Austen has been charged with a limited range. She is well aware of the fact that life is not definable at a private level even though she tries her best to do that. Needless to mention that it is true she does not talk about the political issues of her era but the social issues that one faces in everyday life at an individual level. Nonetheless, while illustrating themes, she uses the technique of irony in Pride and Prejudice.
Jane Austen loves to write about manners, behaviour, etiquette, love, relationship, marriages and the list goes on until it crosses the boundary walls of a house. She describes the philosophy of life purely at the four walls of the houses. Although practical life runs along with family life yet the writer does not talk even a single time about it. Thus, Jane Austen illustrates such themes in which she puts in writing the philosophy of the private life of families in Pride and Prejudice, regarding which famous quotes are:
“There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it, and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of merit or sense.”Quote about life and people
Jane Austen portrays at least one character from each social status. Moreover, every character has different attributes. Thus, there is no denying the fact that she covers every area of human behaviour, psyche, social problems (different for men and women) and the individualistic problems of every person in this novel. Nonetheless, some common themes that are apparent in Pride and Prejudice are:
The writer talks either about the upper middle class or the lower middle class in her novel. Thus, she portrays the themes of social life and manners in Pride and Prejudice through these two classes. How are the upper-middle classes and lower-middle classes spending life? What are their views about each other? How do they meet? What are their interests? All these questions have been answered by the writer in this novel.
It is true that the novel has a universal appeal and it still grabs the interest of readers; however, at the same time, it also cannot be ignored that the writer captures a realistic picture of people’s social life in her own time. For instance, Darcy’s saying “she is not handsome enough to tempt me” and then proposing to Elizabeth Bennet without any attraction or understanding seems a very ill-mannered way of dealing with a person. Jane Austen shows that there is no space for such types of efforts in society. Thus, the novel is all about the social, moral life and manners of people.
Quotes that support themes of manner and behaviour in Pride and Prejudice are:
“You are mistaken, Mr Darcy, if you suppose that the mode of your declaration affected me in any other way than as it spared me the concern which I might have felt in refusing you, had you behaved in a more gentlemanlike manner.”Elizabeth to Mr Darcy
In addition to above-said quotes, Mr Bennet says to her girls:
“From all that I can collect by your manner of talking, you must be two of the silliest girls in the country. I have suspected it some time, but I am now convinced.”Mr Bennet to her two youngest girls
Two characters in the novel are highly satirical; one is Mr Collins and the second is Mrs Bennet. Jane Austen shows their follies to point out some ridiculousness in the society in which she lives. Mrs Bennet imagines every young man as her son-in-law. She wants to solemnise her daughters’ marriage but she is not in favour of making a match by their nature. Marriage is marriage in her eyes; she does not care if there is any understanding and compatibility between the couple or not. She wants to see all her daughters married either hook or crook.
Mr Collins on the other hand is also the same type of figure. He imagines every girl as his wife. He is so dense that he proposes to almost every Bennet girl. Ultimately, Charlotte Lucas from another family accepts her proposal and the readers realise that Charlotte does not accept him as her husband because she likes him but because she is becoming every passing day.
Jane Austen shows that there are some marriages in the world wherein there is no compatibility between the couples. In addition, she talks about the actions and behaviours of the people in her novel. She puts them in certain circumstances and then records their actions in that particular situation.
Mr Bingley and Jane are two first characters, a love relationship between whom develops; however, it is not the first couple, whom the writer mentions at the start of the novel. Firstly, Jane Austen talks about Mr and Mrs Bennet whose marriage is not based on love but on compromises. Symbolically, the writer portrays a message that a marriage without love and affection is a failure. One can spend days of life but it is hard to live a life without it. There are three steps to be taken for a successful marriage: affection, respect, love and marriage. In fact, it is the policy that the writer creates in this novel.
In support of these themes, the following are some quotes from Pride and Prejudice.
Jane asks Elizabeth:
“Are you quite certain that you can be happy with him?
“Oh, Lizzy! do anything rather than marry without affection.”
Jane Austen discusses five marriages and five couples in this novel, who are.:
There are two classes in the novel. Upper middle class and middle class. Mr Darcy belongs to the first whereas Elizabeth belongs to the second. Nevertheless, despite class differences, there are certain principles of each class. Each one has integrity and the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. Darcy proposes to Elizabeth but she refuses in spite of knowing that he is a person having a good fortune. Thus, integrity and class are two themes of Pride and Prejudice that runs side by side and a critic in this regard quotes the very first statement 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.”Jane Austen
Mr Bingley has good fortune. He belongs to the upper class and he is searching for a wife. It is ironic that the story starts in Mr Bennet’s family and the readers realise that Mrs Bennet is also looking for fortunate husbands for her daughters but the Bennet family is neither fortunate nor belongs to the upper class. Thus, the statement is entirely ironic. In addition, there is a comparison between the Bennet and the Lucas family. From here we also realise the rivalry and competition between lower-middle classes.
Similarly, one of the Bingley sisters has been shown as a class conscious lady. Initially, Mr Darcy also thinks the same but subsequently, he realises his mistake. Mr Collins also struggles financially. He lives with his aunt and finds a wife that can support him. The Bennet family has no male heir and the only option for them is if Collins marries one of the Bennet girls but the Bennet family also loses this option.
Mr Wickham is a character who also struggles financially. Lydia elopes with him and subsequently, Mr Darcy settles the matter for the integrity of the Bennet family. Thus, besides love, integrity is also one of the remarkable themes of Pride and Prejudice.
In the end, the writer supports the principle that love does not have any boundaries. Its range is beyond the social statuses of people. Jane marries Mr Bingley and Elizabeth loves Mr Darcy. She also shows the other side of the story; Mr Bennet once married Mrs Bennet but still, there are marriages that are based on the same principle, without love, as evident from the marriages between Charlotte and Mr Collins as well Lydia and Wickham.
“First Impression” was the title that was given to this book. Perhaps, it is the impression of Mr Darcy when initially he sees Elizabeth or the impression on the mind of Elizabeth when she hears a remark against her. It is clear that Mr Darcy has fake pride. Indeed, he is a wealthy person and belongs to a good family but to think of oneself as superior to others is a dogma. In case Elizabeth has accepted the initial proposal of Mr Darcy then he never has realised his mistake. The writer shows this deliberately. Elizabeth is prejudiced and in order to save her reputation, she must reject Mr Darcy’s proposal. The writer writes about these incidents in detail that illustrate reputation, false pride and prejudice as major themes of this novel.
In short, there are a lot of topics that the writer covers in this novel but she does not go beyond the families. Everything happens inside the houses. If any social discussion is there it is only to describe the relationships, for instance, if the writer talks about Mr Wickham then the army camp’s discussion was necessary to continue the story, otherwise, it is true that Jane Austen has a limited range. It should not be considered her weakness instead she is best at describing these issues. Jane Austen has supreme knowledge of the human psyche and the best she can do is write about it and show it to her readers.
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