Illustration of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy with neutral expressions on their faces

Pride and Prejudice

by Jane Austen
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Why is Pride and Prejudice a better title? In what ways are Darcy and Elizabeth guilty of both pride and prejudice, and how does this drive the action of the story?

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Jane Austen's title Pride and Prejudice coincides with the primary theme of the story and directly relates to the two most prominent factors preventing Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy from instantly falling in love. Both Elizabeth and Darcy are guilty of allowing their pride and prejudice to stand in their way of happiness as they incorrectly judge each other. As a wealthy, distinguished gentleman, Darcy initially views the Bennet family as beneath him and acts rude and dismissive towards them. His cold demeanor and overt prejudice influence Elizabeth to unfairly judge him. Elizabeth takes pride in her intellect and strongly believes in her ability to accurately read others, which influences her to form an unfavorable opinion of Darcy and unquestionably believe the deceitful Wickham.

After speaking with Wickham and blaming Darcy for Jane's broken relationship with Mr. Bingley, Elizabeth remains blind to Darcy's real character and dramatically misreads him. As the novel progresses, Darcy proposes to Elizabeth, who initially rebuffs him. It is only after Darcy offers an explanation, demonstrates his genuine personality at Pemberley, loses his prejudice towards the Bennets and helps restore their family name by bribing Wickham to marry Lydia that Elizabeth acknowledges his love. Elizabeth also recognizes that she was overconfident in her ability to read others, which lead to her severe misjudgment of Darcy. Each character’s struggle to control their pride and prejudice drives the plot of the story. In order for Elizabeth and Darcy to become a happy couple, they are forced to overcome their pride and prejudice, which is why Jane Austen's title is fitting.

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