The first sentence of Pride and Prejudice is considered by critics to be one of the most revealing first lines in English literature. What does this one sentence tell the reader about the overall...

The first sentence of Pride and Prejudice is considered by critics to be one of the most revealing first lines in English literature. What does this one sentence tell the reader about the overall theme of the story?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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

Clearly announcing Pride and Prejudice as a novel of manners, this opening sentence sets the stage for the Bennet girls' searches for husbands while at the same time creating a fantasy; namely, that the wealthy man needs a wife.

Of course, the "single man in possession of a good fortune" is Darcy, and it is he who is central to the happiness of the narrative as well as being instrumental in the theme of "Change and Transformation." Darcy finally conquered his pride and decides that he loves Elizabeth enough to want to marry her in spite of having to tolerate Wickham as an in-law; however, it is ironically Elizabeth who takes longer to swallow her prejudices against Darcy, gaining a better insight into her gentleman. Thus, they prove that the single gentleman, Darcy, must have been, without his realizing it, in search of a wife, and she in search of him.

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