Discuss examples of Elizabeth's prejudice towards Darcy in Pride and Prejudice.

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In Jane Austen's novel, Elizabeth Bennet's prejudice toward Mr. Darcy stems from some aspects of her own personality and some of her upbringing. She displays this prejudice when she first meets him at the dance and retains it until several incidents finally prove her wrong.

Lizzie is vain about her appearance and proud of her wit, intelligence, and discernment. Because she dearly loves her sister Jane, she does not like to compete with her. Knowing that Jane is prettier and nicer does not make it any easier to hear Darcy say that her appearance is just "tolerable." She decides to cut Darcy with her wit, and is surprised that he does not appreciate it. She assumes he is being deliberately rude. Because she is outgoing and Darcy has so many privileges, it does not occur to her that he might just be shy and socially inept. Basically, she assumes that because he is handsome and rich, he must be shallow. This is partly her parents's fault because even though her mother is a social climber, her father is an anti-elitist reverse-snob, an attitude she has picked up from him.

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If Darcy's initial relationship towards Elizabeth is defined by pride, then certainly Elizabeth's relationship towards Darcy is defined by prejudice. Interestingly, Austen originally titled her novel First Impressions, and Elizabeth's first impressions of Darcy are something that she struggles to free herself from for a considerable time. Her first impression of his pride is fixed after their first meeting at the ball when she refuses to dance with her. This of course then only makes her more inclined to believe what Wickham tells her about his past and relationship with Darcy. When she hears Wickham's story, she makes her memories fit what she has been told:

I do remember his boasting one day, at Netherfield, of the implacability of his resentments, of his having an unforgiving temper. His disposition must be dreadful.

Having heard Wickham's story, even though Elizabeth questions it herself, she makes her memory "fit" what she has been told and then allows this prejudice to govern her attitude and her reactions towards Darcy from then on.

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