What are themes found in Volume 3 of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The themes of pride, humility, and prejudice are strongly revisited in Volume Three. It is when Elizabeth takes a tour of Pemberley with the Gardiners that Elizabeth first begins to truly realize the extent of which she had prejudicially misjudged Darcy. Hearing Mr. Darcy's housekeeper praise Darcy to the heavens was a real eye-opener for Elizabeth. To Elizabeth's astonishment, the housekeeper even said she had "never had a cross word from him in [her] life" and she had worked in the family since Darcy was four years old. Elizabeth had prejudicially assumed that he was always an ill-tempered man. The housekeeper even refutes a frequently held belief that Darcy is a proud person, saying that she feels they only think that of him simply because "he does not rattle away like other young men" (Ch. 43). Thus, the housekeeper's praises of Darcy help Elizabeth to see just how prejudicial she has been, which helps capture the theme of prejudice.

Darcy even exhibits a great deal of humility and lack of pride when they encounter him at Pemberley, and he asks to be introduced to Elizabeth's aunt and uncle. Elizabeth notices that after the introduction he seems "surprised" to learn "they were some of those very people against whom his pride had revolted," but she is also quite pleased to see that he continues walking the grounds with them and converses with Mr. Gardiner (Ch. 43). Hence, we see that Darcy is now intentionally acting with a great deal of humility, helping to portray the themes of pride vs. humility.

Another theme we see visited in Volume Three is the theme of dishonorable conduct. It is in this volume we learn that Lydia has disgraced herself and her family by running away with Wickham. Not only that, both Elizabeth and Darcy feel that they could have prevented Wickham from slandering Lydia had they more openly exposed the nature of Wickham's character. Darcy later says that pride prevented him from exposing the truth about Wickham, which is one reason why he takes it upon himself to rescue Lydia. Hence, the theme of dishonorable conduct is not only portrayed through Lydia and Wickham's actions, but through both Elizabeth's and Darcy's wrong choices as well.