Structure

General aspects

The plot focus of the novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is marriage and how it influenced the gentry middle and upper class in her time. The plot structure of the novel fits the classical plot structure (exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution), but it can also be analysed using other plot structures, dividing the story into three parts, each with its own plot line. In the latter interpretation, one plot focuses on Jane and Bingley, another on Lydia and Wickham, and the third (the main plot) involves Elizabeth and Darcy.

In what follows, we will give you the most important plot elements of the novel according to the classical plot structure.

Title

The title reflects one of the main themes of this novel. Initially, Austen wanted to title the novel First Impressions, because Darcy and Elizabeth misunderstand each other at first and form prejudiced ideas about each other. Their first impressions of each other change as the events of the plot unfold, and both begin to respect and eventually love each other.

However, Austen eventually settled on the title Pride and Prejudice, which is symbolic for some of the most dominant themes and attitudes in the plot. Most of the characters are proud or prejudiced at given points in the novel. For example, the Bennets and their acquaintances become prejudiced against Darcy because of Wickham’s story about his alleged cruel mistreatment. Similarly, the Bingley sisters are prejudiced against the Bennets because of the inferiority of their social and economic status.

The first definition of pride is pedantically offered by Mary in one of the early chapters: “Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us” (p. 13).

The two protagonists, Elizabeth and Darcy, reflect the title the most. In general, Darcy represents pride and Elizabeth represents prejudice. However, Austen shows that these character traits are never simple, as both characters have moments when they are both prejudiced and proud.

At first, Elizabeth is described as a prejudiced person, despite her being quite likable. She is prejudiced against Darcy because he comes across as an arrogant rich man who refuses to dance with her. Equally, Darcy is prejudiced against the Bennet family because he considers them inferior class-wise, just as he is prejudiced when he supposes that Jane’s affection for Bingley is not very strong.

Darcy’s pride initially creates distance between him Elizabeth, as he acts with superiority towards others. From the very beginning of the novel, he is described as “the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world” (p. 6). For example, it is Darcy’s pride that makes him refuse to dance with Elizabeth in the beginning of the story. He then says: “She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me…” (p. 7). This is what triggers Elizabeth’s prejudice against Darcy. But her prejudices come from her hurt pride: “I could easily forgive his pride if he had not mortified mine” (p. 13). Austen, therefore, cleverly shows how pride and prejudice are often linked and also often mi...

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