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Published: Thursday 31st of October 2013
Graciously written by the widely acclaimed British writer Jane Austen, the famous romantic novel Pride and Prejudice is a story that deals with the subject of human characters. Readers and scholars still regard this timeless story as one of the best literary works ever written, even though several centuries have passed since its first publication. Initially, the novel was entitled First Impressions, which one can regard as a reference to one of the primary motifs approached in the story: first impressions may be misleading. Starting with the very first lines of the novel, Jane Austen demonstrates that it is wrong to label a person based on the initial contact. The lead character of Pride and Prejudice is Elizabeth, a woman who is deceived by a first impression: in the first chapters of the story, she shows hatred towards a person who eventually becomes the only man she has ever loved. According to Elizabeth’s own words, even though she had only known Mr. Darcy for less than a month, she regarded him as the last person on Earth she would ever consider marrying (Austen, 1813).
People usually appreciate the way another person looks, speaks and behaves, and refuse to accept people who do not comply with such criteria. The main character underestimates Mr. Darcy when they meet for the first time because she hears what he says in regards to her aspect, namely that she isn’t beautiful enough for his taste (1813). At this point, the reader can notice a mutual dislike originating in the initial contact. For example, Elizabeth expresses her disapproval of Mr. Darcy’s behavior from the very first moment in which she meets him: “your selfish disdain for the feelings of others … ” (1813). Nevertheless, these misconceptions fade away as they get to know each other better – as it often happens in real-life.
The characters of Pride and Prejudice are not the only ones deceived by the first acquaintance. It impacts the reader just the same. As revealed by the first description of the male character, Mr. Darcy is a man who benefits from some extraordinarily beautiful physical qualities, the reason for which he rapidly catches the eye of everyone around him (1813). As opposed to this idea, the author also reveals that women thought Mr. Darcy had a more pleasant appearance in comparison to Mr. Bingley. Furthermore, everyone regarded him with a high degree of appreciation until they were disgusted by his bad manners, which made him lose his recently gained popularity (1813). According to Elizabeth’s mother’s description of her, the woman’s features weren’t very exceptional in comparison to those of her sisters. She claims that Elizabeth wasn’t as pretty as Jane or as amusing as her other sister Lydia (1813). Nevertheless, as the story progresses, the reader eventually finds out that Elizabeth is a delightful and profound human being, which ones again proves the idea of first impressions being faulty.
According to the words of James Uleman, a reputable psychology professor from the New York University, no one gets granted a second opportunity of making a great first impression (2008). Nevertheless, as proven by Jane Austen in Pride and Prejudice, people have this chance of making an outstanding second impression, seeing as someone’s belief regarding another person can change. In her classic romantic novel, the esteemed English writer demonstrates that the initial acquaintance often fails to reveal the true-to-life characteristics of a person. As a matter of fact, first impressions are highly misleading. When Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy first meet, they are both biased and unjust towards one another. Nevertheless, the events that follow reveal that their first impressions were very wrong. Furthermore, one also ought to keep in mind that people may also be mistaken about positive first impressions, not only about negative ones. For instance, charm represents a strategy of gaining the confidence of strangers on the spot, making them unaware of the true intentions of the charmer.
Make a comparison between the way in which women and men regard matrimony by assessing the stance of the male and female characters of Pride and Prejudice. In her famous literary work Pride and Prejudice, the widely-acclaimed English writer Jane Austen presents a lot of distinct characters. Each of these characters has particular characteristics as well as viewpoints. Considering the theme of Pride and Prejudice, it would be fascinating to take into consideration the way in which women and men regard matrimony throughout the story. The writer demonstrates the fact that males and females perceive matrimony in distinct manners. Each of the characters in the novel has different criteria regarding matrimony. While some believe that love represents the essential aspect, other characters are more interested in features such as fortune or social rank. Then there are also characters who have balanced feelings regarding these opposite perspectives.
Mrs. Bennet is amongst the first characters in Pride and Prejudice who showcases a specific stance regarding matrimony. The reader can notice the fact that Mrs. Bennet is very fond of Mr. Bingley, as she thinks of him as a very wealthy bachelor who earns about five thousand annually (Austen). The fact that she underlines Mr. Bingley’s financial situation may lead the reader to the conclusion that she hopes to find a wealthy suitor for her daughter. While this conclusion is not a false one, Mrs. Bennet is a person who cares about more than just fortune. The woman also points out the fact that Mr. Bingley may fall in love with one of her daughters, thus, revealing that she values love and affection in matrimony as well. Mrs. Bennet places a high level of importance on both wealth and love when it comes to finding suitors for her daughters. However, when thinking about the future of her daughters, she takes into account two different elements, namely essential achievements for her daughters as well as their advancement towards a more respectable social status. Mrs. Bennet’s viewpoints regarding matrimony showcase a fascinating combination of severity and easiness.
In Pride and Prejudice, there are two characters whose stance towards matrimony may stand for two distinct extremities of Mrs. Bennet’s perspective. One of these characters is Lydia, Mrs. Bennet’s daughter, who focuses too much on the superficial elements of ceremony surrounding matrimony. When talking to her sisters, she reveals that she would enjoy being the first of them to find a husband, for the reasons disclosed in the following line: “and then I would chaperon you about to all the balls.” When talking about her future wedding, she indicates that she imagined that her suitor, Wickham, would wear the blue coat that she liked. Such lines demonstrate Lydia’s universal easiness when it comes to her stance towards matrimony. She developed feelings for Wickham, which made her overlook the financial aspects surrounding marriage as well as the morality of those days, as she moved in with Wickham before getting married.
An opposing stance towards marriage is displayed by the character Charlotte Lucas who regards happiness between the husband and the wife as an issue that relies entirely on luck. She claims that “If the dispositions of the parties are ever so well known to each other or ever so similar beforehand, it does not advance their felicity in the least.” Charlotte does not place any importance on the aspect of love in matrimony. In doing so, she makes her own decision. This character reveals that she has never paid any attention to romance and that she solely desires to live in a pleasant homestead. She states that she could have a shot at leading a happy life alongside Mr. Collins, taking into consideration his personality, ties and social status (Austen). One can refer to Charlotte Lucas’s stance towards marriage as the desire to get involved in a marriage of convenience. However, this should not be regarded as a bad thing, as Charlotte isn’t someone who is willing to do anything for the right price. Instead, she is someone who makes decisions based solely on what her brain dictates, and not on matters of the heart.
The lead character of the novel, Elizabeth Bennet, signifies the equilibrium between the brain and the heart. Opposing the viewpoints of her mother and those of her sister Lydia, the main character is not lighthearted when it comes to the issue of matrimony. She doesn’t take into consideration aspects like the nuance of the wedding ornaments or the groom’s attire. When thinking about the married life of her peers, she takes into account distinct elements. Elizabeth obviously comprehends the significance of wealth and social status. However, she doesn’t regard such aspects as pivotal. She declines Mr. Collins’ proposal because she does not believe they can have a happy marriage together. Furthermore, she also rejects an even better catch, Mr. Darcy, who in addition to being wealthy also has a superior social status compared to that of her family. Marrying Mr. Darcy could bring her many advantages. However, Elizabeth declines his proposal because she isn’t fond of his character. As the story progresses, the lead character finally accepts Mr. Darcy’s proposal, as she notices that he is a different person and that his personality is not as bad as when he first asked her to marry him. When analyzing the main female character’s perspectives, the reader can observe that she is of the opinion that attachment, companionship, and respect constitute the main ingredients of pleasant and firm matrimony. This viewpoint leads to the conclusion that Elizabeth represents equilibrium between opponent attitudes – she seeks a man who is wealthy and has an adequate social rank, and she would not renounce everything for passion like Lydia. Nevertheless, the lead character also hopes to find a husband with a pleasant character, whom she could appreciate and for whom she could have feelings.
Notably, Mr. Darcy places a high level of importance on love in his viewpoints regarding matrimony. He acknowledges the fact that he has the advantage of better social status in comparison to Elizabeth, and the manner in which he approaches this aspect makes her mad. Nevertheless, in spite of these differences in their financial and social position, Mr. Darcy wants to marry Elizabeth. He begins his marriage proposal with the following sentences: “My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” It is significant to note the fact that Elizabeth turns down his proposal and the way in which she points out to his flaws, stimulate him to change and demonstrate that he is a different person. Love is an essential aspect for Mr. Darcy when thinking of marriage. Nevertheless, one can notice that this male character is rich enough and has enough of social rank not to be preoccupied with such matters.
In Pride and Prejudice, the author presents a character that, as opposed to Mr. Darcy, cares a lot about wealth. Elizabeth discovers that Wickham’s fondness for her sister is uneven compared to what Lydia feels for him. The author remarks that the man dreamt of becoming even wealthier by marrying a woman in a different country. Although he stays in the country and gets married to Lydia, it is evident that he chooses to do this to gain financial and social advantages, and not because he loves her. Thus, Wickham’s character signifies a marriage of convenience in the less sympathetic sense of the word – only to gain a better financial status. In the absence of Mr. Darcy’s intervention and proposal, Wickham would just break up with Lydia and destroy her good name.
Another character that is present in the story, Mr. Collins, symbolizes matrimony due to social perspectives. His stance towards matrimony is similar to that of Charlotte, whom he marries. According to Collins’ description of matrimony, he wanted to get married because he thought it was the right thing to do as a cleric, and because he wanted the members of his parish to learn from his example and start a family (Austen). This, evidently, implies the fact that when thinking about matrimony, Mr. Collins pays attention to neither love nor wealth. Instead, marriage is important to him because it can offer him the adequate social position that he aspires to. A reader can make a comparison between Mr. Collins and Mr. Darcy by the way in which they begin their proposals. Darcy begins by talking about his love for a specific female character, while Collins begins by stating the motives for which he wants to get married. This demonstrates that he doesn’t pay a lot of attention to the personality of his future spouse. He wants to marry a suitable woman with adequate conduct. However, for Collins, it makes little difference which suitable woman he proposes to in case he has various alternatives.
In conclusion, in her novel Pride and Prejudice, the esteemed author Jane Austen demonstrates that stances towards matrimony can differ a lot. Lydia and Mr. Darcy place the highest importance on love, in spite of the fact that their personalities are polar opposites. Mr. Collins and Charlotte represent the better sense of the term “marriage of convenience”. When seeking to get married, they only consider their mind and not their heart. Wickham is a representative of the matrimony due to financial reasons. Last but not least, Mrs. Bennet and the lead character, Elizabeth, demonstrate a combination and equilibrium of distinct stances towards matrimony.
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