In Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, what are the main conflicts throughout the book?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, one of the main conflicts is Character vs. Character. This is exhibited in Elizabeth's bad opinion of Mr. Darcy. It is also exhibited in Mr. Bingley's sisters treatment of the Bennet family, particularly of Jane. It is also seen in Mr. Wickham's treatment of Darcy and Miss Darcy, and in his seduction of Lydia.

Another major conflict found in the book is Character vs. Society. This conflict is mostly shown through the economic problems that are portrayed throughout the story. For instance, because the Bennet children consist of several daughters, the Bennet estate is entailed to the next male in line in order to keep the estate in the family and to keep its worth from being divided. At Mr. Bennet's death, Longbourn will be entailed to Mr. Collins. The entailment means that the Bennet daughters will be left with little wealth once their father passed on, and had to rely on finding financially secure husbands. The entailment led to several conflicts in the book, particularly the conflict that arose when Elizabeth refuses to marry Mr. Collins. The entailment also put a great deal of pressure on Jane, the eldest daughter, to marry well in order to provide for her family when their father passes on.

There are also a couple of instances of the conflict Character vs. Self. This can be seen when Elizabeth begins to reproach herself for misjudging Mr. Darcy and being so prejudiced against him.  Likewise, it can also be said that Mr. Darcy exhibits the conflict of Character vs. Self when he begins to realize how his pride makes him appear to others and just how damaging his pride can be to fulfilling his character and his reputation.


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