Whilst sullymonster is correct in identifying the novel as a kind of learning process for the two main characters as they confront, understand and overcome their own senses of pride and prejudice, I actually disagree and think that the original title would have been more appropriate - just to be contraversial! First Impressions would have been far more fitting for the novel because a central theme of the novel is how characters judge based on these first impressions, and then have to revise their opinion of those characters later. This isn´t exclusively focussed on Darcy and Elizabeth, and the way that Elizabeth and Meryton at large judge Mr. Darcy and find him wanting for his pride. Think of how the same thing happens with Wickham, and how he is judged and found initially very pleasing, with disastrous results. This title therefore places the emphasis on how we as a society often judge on first impressions, leading us into making all sorts of mistakes.
Yes. Many prejudices are discussed and exposed, and much is done in the name of pride...often not the best choices or decisions. These two foibles are prominent among humans. You'd think we'd learn from our mistakes and those of others. Ha!
This manuscript was first titled "First Impressions." However, in 1797, the manuscript was rejected by a publisher. As Austen spent time refining it before it was published as "Pride and Prejudice" in 1813, we can assume it was not the name change that brought upon its success. Even so, the second title is much more appropriate.
The protagonist, Elizabeth, suffers from both pride and prejudice. She has pride in her ability to understand human nature. She teases her sister for being too understanding, and thinks she herself sees people more honestly. For instance, she quickly discerns that Mr. Collins is both an arrogant and foolish man. However, Elizabeth's pride in this ability causes her to trust it too much. Enter prejudice. When Mr. Darcy ignores her, she becomes prejudice against him. When Mr. Wickham shows an interest, she becomes prejudice towards him. It is not until much later that she learns how wrong she was. In those climatic moments, she says, "until now, I never knew myself." She has let her pride and her prejudice mislead her.
The secondary protagonist, Darcy, goes through a similar learning experience. His pride in his status and intelligence makes him behave with prejudice towards others, until Elizabeth teaches him a lesson. Once the two characters have overcome these failings, they start on the road to being together.
First written in 1797 under the title First Impressions, it was later revised and published under Pride and Prejudice in 1813.
First impressions do play an important role in the novel. Elizabeth is misled in her judgment of both Darcy and Wickham. Her attitude towards both the characters is only a result of the First Impression. But if we study the novel deeply, we find that P&P is an apt title. The first Impressions only last for the first few chapters of the novel while P&P permeates the soul of the novel. The novel is about the pride of Darcy and the prejudice of Elizabeth and the change and correction of their attitude caused by first impressions.
However, to say that Darcy is proud and Elizabeth is prejudice is to tell but the half story. The fact is that both Darcy and Elizabeth are proud and prejudiced. The novel makes clear the fact the Darcy’s pride lead to prejudice and Elizabeth’s prejudice stems from a pride in her own perceptions. Darcy is proud of his refinement and superiority of social standing. This lead him to a general prejudice for all those below his social status and Elizabeth’s prejudice stems from her pride when she is offended by Darcy’s refusal to dance with her and this lead her to be prejudiced with him. Her prejudice clouds her clear judgment and foresight and she believes the poor account of Darcy as related by Wickham and blinded by prejudice, she rejects his proposal. In the proposal scene, there is an ironic reversal. Both suffer from the faults of pride and prejudice, but they are also the necessary defects of desirable merits: self-respect and intelligence. It is at Rosings that their process of self-discovery and educations starts. At Netherfield Park, Elizabeth’s family had seemed vulgar and ill-bred, but at Rosings, Darcy is embarrassed by the vulgarity of his aunt, Lady Catherine and realizes that the refinement of manners is no monopoly of the elite. His lesson is complete when he is totally humbled by Elizabeth’s rejection of his proposal and realizes his misplaced pride in the woman whom he loves. This excessive love for Elizabeth cures Darcy’s pride and humbling himself he completely shed his pride. Elizabeth’s moment of self-awakening comes on receiving of Darcy’s letter. Learning the truth about Wickham, she realizes her own blindness and prejudice in judging Darcy and Wickham on mere first impressions. At Pemberely, she learns about Darcy’s austerity of manner
Darcy’s role in Lydia Wickham episode proves that he has completely shed his pride, otherwise he would not have assented to get involved in Bennet’s disgrace and have for his brother-in-law, the man, he most despises. Elizabeth’s recognition that, “Darcy was exactly the man who, in disposition and talent, would most suit her”, suggests that her initial prejudice against him is dissolved and the time is now ripe for them to get married.
Lady Katherine is an also an example of P&P. She has the family and status pride. Mrs. Bennet is proud of her daughter and in her stupidity she is also prejudiced against Darcy. So there is a theme of P&P in minor characters too. The title, P&P aptly points to the theme of the novel. The novel goes beyond a mere statement of first impressions and explores in depth the abstract qualities of pride and prejudice – how they grow and can be overcome.