Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen provided contrasts between different characters that helped communicate ideas and a main message. The contrast between Elizabeth and Charlotte conveys Jane Austens views on marriage. The contrast between Wickham and Darcy communicate the old idea of being a gentleman. The contrast between the Gardiners and Lady Catherine De Bourgh communicate the idea of who truly belongs to the aristocracy, and the frivolity of social classes.
Elizabeth rejects Mr Collins proposal but Charlotte accepts. This contrast in actions communicates the idea of marriage and the role of women in the old society. Elizabeth is an idealist who is reluctant to place marriage at the centre of her ambitions without any regard for their own feelings and circumstances. She is shocked by Charlottes single-minded view of marriage and has no hesitation in rejecting Mr Collins proposal: I am perfectly serious in my refusal after he has proposed. The idea of a new woman is communicated through Elizabeth. Elizabeths rejection of Mr Collins proposal shows the way in which Jane Austen seems to be commenting in the book that women should devote their energies to reason and independent thought. Charlotte is a realist who, in settling for Mr Collins, appears to have compromised all her chances of finding love in quest for security and comfort. Charlotte by contrast is wholly unsentimental: I am not a romanticI ask only a comfortable home. Charlottes life is dull but secure this communicates the idea of how marriage was like a business transaction and that a woman would settle for security rather than true love. The two incidents of Elizabeths rejection and Charlottes acceptance of marrying Mr Collins provides contrast between the two characters that both communicates their separate ideas on marriage, role of women in society back then and Jane Austens message, which acts as a challenge against the norm of the society.
The contrast between Darcy and Wickham communicates the idea of what a real gentleman is like. Wickham seemed charming and plausible, he is an excellent conversationalist who gains everyones sympathy by telling of his painful experience given by Darcy: I had not thought so very ill of him. However, the truth is that he is a man of very small accomplishment and lies. He is prepared to exploit women for pleasure and material gain. His seduction of Georgiana Darcys sister and elopement with Lydia are both evidence of his sly character and intentions. Darcy by contrast is a man of great accomplishments and real gentlemanly nature. Outwardly cold and proud, he is a poor conversationalist who engages everyones resentment for his disagreeable and seemingly ungentlemanly behaviour. However, the truth is that he does not gossip about what the real Wickham is like because he is a real gentleman. Even though he has every reason to do so, Darcy does not tell everyone what Wickham really is like because he cares about his sisters good name and sees himself as partly responsible. He also blames himself for the elopement of Wickham and Lydia this is also a revelation of him being responsible. These show Darcys strong sense of responsibility for others. Wickham lies in a charming manner for his own benefit while Darcy conceals his thoughts and takes action to benefit others. The true idea of what a real gentleman is like is communicated through contrast between Darcy and Wickham.
The contrast between the Gardiners and Lady Catherine De Bourgh communicates the idea of who should belong to the aristocracy. Lady Catherine De Bourghs sense of her own dignity is evident in all she says and does: Our instrument is a capital one, probably superior to. Her sense of unquestionable authority and her belief in her right to control peoples lives is seen when she questions Elizabeth about her and Darcy getting married. Although she physically lives in the upper class, Lady Catherine De Bourgh lacks the class associated with the upper classes. She is vulgar like Mrs Bennet and shares the brashness and rudeness due to a lack of humanity, grace and social intelligence. The Gardiners are not members of the aristocracy in terms of wealth or birth but are natural aristocrats by virtue of their intelligence: Mrs Gardiner warns Elizabethtoo attracted to Wickham, good-breeding and virtue: They are described as a pleasant and sensible couple.
In terms of wealth, Lady Catherine De Bourgh is an aristocrat but in terms of innate intelligence and true good breeding, the Gardiners are of a higher human quality. The contrast between Lady Catherine De Bourgh and the Gardiners communicate the idea of who truly belonged to the aristocracy. It is the ones that are of true good breeding and virtue that are said to belong to the aristocracy; not the ones who were only born into it.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen provides contrasts between different characters. As the contrasts were explored, the ideas of marriage, and the role of women in 1800 society, being a real gentleman and who truly belongs to the aristocracy were communicated. These ideas are important because they help the reader to judge the true qualities of the different characters. It also helps the reader understand one of the most important characteristics of the society in Jane Austens day.