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Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice is essentially about two people who exhibit the two characteristics listed in the title: pride and prejudice. Elizabeth Bennett is from what is considered by many to be a less-than-desirable family in terms of both money and class, while Fitzwilliam Darcy's financial and class status are impeccable. Unfortunately for him, Darcy has two significant character traits, pride and prejudice, which cause him great heartache before he finally marries the woman he loves.
Darcy is certain that people with money and social position are superior to those with less money and a lower social position. Evidence for this belief can be found both in his own life and that of his friend, Charles Bingley. When it becomes clear that Bingley is falling in love with Jane Bennett, a girl from a distinctly lower class, Darcy colludes with Bingley's sisters to take Bingley away from Jane and convinces him that Jane does not like him--a blatant lie. Darcy eventually finds himself attracted to Jane's sister Elizabeth but quickly discounts the possibility of marriage because of her "inferior relations." It is his pride and prejudice (along with Elizabeth's) which keep the couple from happiness throughout the novel.
Darcy's positive characteristics include being discreet, kind, and generous to those he loves. George Wickham nearly convinces Darcy's sister, Georgiana, to elope with him, but Darcy discovers the scheme and quietly takes care of the situation. His sister is mortified, but Darcy never mentions the incident because he does not want to embarrass her. When Wickham takes one of the younger Bennett girls away to live in shame, Darcy immediately corrects the situation and repairs the damage at his own expense and trouble. He wants no credit for his actions; he simply wants to help Elizabeth. He buys his sister a new piano just because he knows it will please her, and he spends a lot of money to pay off Wickham's debts and establish him in the regular army. He is a discreet, kind, and generous man.
Though he is a rather unpleasant character at the beginning of the novel because he clearly believes himself to be superior to any of the country people he meets, Darcy proves himself to be a man with many redeeming qualities. He changes from a man who assumes Elizabeth would be flattered to be his wife into a man who hopes Elizabeth will overlook his flaws and love him despite his money and position.
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