Symbols

Low on symbols

Austen's Pride and Prejudice is not one of those novels overflowing with symbols (or other types of imagery). Only a few objects and situations are used as symbols, but you might say that this simply emphasises their importance. As always, the purpose of a symbol is to represent an abstract idea and make it more vivid to the readers. Symbols are often closely linked to the themes of the story.

The houses and estates

Houses and estates are symbols of social status in the novel. Longbourn is representative of the gentry. It is where the Bennets live with a fairly modest annual income of £2000. By contrast, Bingley’s estate Netherfield is symbolic of the wealthier upper class, but because it is only rented (and not passed down through generations), it indicates that its owner is not a member of the aristocracy. Both Pemberley and Rosings are symbolical of the aristocratic upper class, but in opposite ways.

Mr. Darcy’s estate, Pemberley, is the most important symbol in the novel, because it is a geographical and physical symbol of Darcy himself. By extension, it also symbolises Austen’s ideal image of a member of the upper class. Darcy is shown to be the perfect combination of upper-class values and social kindness and generosity. The description of the setting indicates Darcy’s personality.

For example, Austen describes how “a stream of some natural importance was swelled into greater, but without any artificial appearance” (p. 169). According to Austen’s (...

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