Pride and Prejudice Study Guide

Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice follows the lives of the five Bennet sisters and their parents, especially focusing on the second eldest daughter Elizabeth. Though weary of her mother's desperation to place each of her daughters in good marriages, Elizabeth finds herself drawn to Mr. Darcy, a proud and wealthy gentleman who is attracted to Elizabeth because of her intelligence and wit. Amidst the drama of their friends' and families' lives, both must overcome preconceived notions and expectations in this story that explores class, love, and social change.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

This is the first line of the novel and one of the most famous in literature. The irony is that though the quote talks of a single man and his good fortune, it is the woman who is the subject of the quote, as the woman, often lacking in income, was forced into marriage for strictly economic reasons. Austen uses this quote to set up the basic structure of the novel from the very beginning and to introduce the main male characters who are in possession of such a fortune: Darcy and Bingley. Also, Austen uses the quote to introduce the principal women who are looking for a man of small fortune: Elizabeth and Jane. The quote also serves to introduce Mrs. Bennett's principal goal: to marry her daughter as quickly as she can. The quote also serves to introduce Mr. Bingley and Mrs. Bennet's immediate eye on him as a possible husband for one of her daughters.

Elizabeth was much too embarrassed to say a word. After a short pause, her companion added, You are too generous to trifle with me. If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes are unchanged, but one word from you will silence me on this subject forever.

This quote comes at the very end of the novel, after the climax. It is spoken by Mr. Darcy to Elizabeth as they are walking along the lane by themselves. Jane and Bingley are lagging behind and Kitty and Mary have walked ahead. This is the first time Darcy and Elizabeth have had to speak at length with each other since Darcy began visiting with Bingley at Longbourn. Darcy is asking that Elizabeth tell him if her feelings have changed, since she declined his first proposal and was rude to him, calling him ungentlemanly. The quote is important because Elizabeth answers that her feelings have changed, and that she is now in love with him. After her response, she and Darcy discuss marriage. This quote comes after Darcy has redeemed himself in Elizabeth's eyes by arranging the marriage of her sister Lydia to Mr. Wickham, thus saving Elizabeth's reputation. Elizabeth has just thanked him for doing so and Darcy has proclaimed that he did not do the favor for her family, but for her alone. Elizabeth is stunned into silence by this remark because she has convinced herself that because of the scandal it is not possible that Darcy will ask her to marry him again.

She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. You had better return to your partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me.

This remark is made by Darcy to Mr. Bingley at the ball in Meryton. Bingley has brought Darcy and his sisters to the ball, and all are too proud to consider any of the company at the ball to their liking. Bingley, on the other hand, has found the company of the ball delightful and has danced many dances, two of them with Jane. Bingley wants Darcy to have as much fun as he's having. Bingley finds Darcy standing in a corner and insists that he dance and have fun. Darcy states that Bingley has danced with the only woman of beauty in the room, Jane, and that Bingley's sisters are taken. Bingley tries to tell Darcy that there are many very pretty young women in the room, including Elizabeth. Darcy delivers the above quote to Bingley in response to his assertion that Elizabeth is pretty, calling her tolerable. The quote is very important because Elizabeth overhears what Darcy has said and this is what forms her first impression of Darcy. Because she has been snubbed, and her pride is hurt, Elizabeth forms a prejudice against Darcy that becomes almost impossible for her to break. After hearing what Darcy says, Elizabeth tells all her friends and the town quickly judges Darcy to be a proud and haughty man.

Oh! Your father of course can spare you, if your mother can. Daughters are never so much consequence to a father.

This quote is delivered by Lady Catherine de Bourgh and stresses the limited prospects afforded a woman of the eighteenth century. A woman's place was in the home, and a woman was only important to the mother. A woman's opinion was often not considered for business decisions or in the management of the estate income. It was up to the male to provide the income, and the woman to manage the household. The only proper employment for a woman of Austen's breeding would have been a nanny. The quote is important because Lady Catherine herself makes reference to the unfairness of the entailment of the Bennet estate, and that her husband's family had not seen it necessary to do such as thing. The quote serves to stress the importance of the woman's inability to control her own destiny and her reliance on the male to provide property and income.

In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.

Darcy delivers this quote to Elizabeth when she is alone at Hunsford. Darcy has expressed his love for Elizabeth and has asked her to marry him. The quote is important because it comes at the climax of the novel and Elizabeth declines his proposal. Not only does she decline the proposal, but she tells Darcy that he has acted in a very ungentlemanly way. Though Darcy has told her that he ardently loves her, he says he feels this way in spite of his best attempts at trying to deny his feelings. This declaration of love, delivered in such a way, hurts Elizabeth's feelings and wounds her pride. Darcy explains that he has tried not to love Elizabeth because of her low connections and the poor behavior of her relations. Elizabeth, though she is the daughter of a gentleman, has many relations who work in trade, thus making her an unsuitable match for Darcy in his eyes. Elizabeth states that she could never love a man who broke up the romance of her sister, and treated Wickham so poorly. After Elizabeth declines his proposal, Darcy leaves and goes back to Rosings where he writes her a letter of explanation concerning his treatment of Jane and Wickham.

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