Pride and Prejudice Summary Chapter Analysis: Is it Really About Love?

Pride and Prejudice the book is undoubtedly one of the best Jane Austen books of all time, and it holds a special place among my favorite world classics as well. But why do you think this book has maintained its popularity for centuries? The secret lies not only in the fluidity of Austen's storytelling or the Pride and Prejudice characters but also in the unique perspective it holds compared to other novels of its time. The theme of Pride and Prejudice is undeniably universal and of a timeless nature: marriage. Reading about the relationship between men and women through the lens of 18th-century England is truly enjoyable for the reader.

In this article, I will provide a summary of the novel along with different perspectives woven into it, the characters, plot, and themes, and make a deep analysis of them. So, grab a cup of coffee or tea, and let's dive in.

Pride and Prejudice Summary Chapter

Before we move onto a detailed book review, it is good to make a short summary of Pride and Prejudice so that you will be able to follow the analysis part of this article better.

What is Pride and Prejudice About?

The book briefly narrates the middle-class life of the main character, Elizabeth Bennet, and her family, particularly focusing on the various situations that arise from her mother's efforts to marry her daughters to the aristocrats. Thanks to Elizabeth's different perspective on marriage, the novel discusses it as an institution and criticizes this system through the exploration of several different characters and the societal significance of marriage. Pride and Prejudice takes its title and theme from the book's main characters. Now that we have done with the synopsis of Pride and Prejudice, let's get to know the characters of the novel in detail.

Pride and Prejudice Summary Chapter, What is Pride and Prejudice about

Pride and Prejudice Time Period

Pride and Prejudice novel is set in the late 18th and early 19th century, and the Pride and Prejudice setting is in England, UK during the Victorian era. Victorian era is significant for a social and cultural shift in England, especially the aristocrats and the middle class played a significant role. The societal norms were too strict, especially for women and Pride and Prejudice represents this time period beautifully.

Themes in Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice main themes are briefly, marriage, love, social class, and family. Now let us dive into these themes in detail by analyzing the characters.

Pride and Prejudice Characters

  1. Elizabeth Bennet (The Protagonist)
    Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice, the second eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, is an intelligent and enlightened young woman who enjoys reading and critical thinking. Despite being her father's favorite due to her wit and quick retorts, she doesn't get along well with her mother. 
  2. Fitzwilliam Darcy
    Mr. Darcy is a young, wealthy, and unmarried aristocrat. Although he is of age, in fact, 28 years old in the novel, he is against the idea of marriage, unlike his peers. He is a close friend of another young aristocrat named Charles Bingley and has a younger sister named Georgiana.
  3. Charles Bingley
    He is a young aristocrat who moves to the town of Netherfield, where the Bennet family resides and he catches the attention of the entire town. Bingley is amiable, eloquent, and a handsome man, as well as he is a good friend of Mr Darcy.
  4. Mr. Bennet
    The father of the Bennet sisters, Mr. Bennet, is a member of the middle class and has only enough income to support the family but not so much in total. He often speaks sarcastically and mockingly, especially towards his wife, Mrs. Bennet. Unlike his wife, he is indifferent to whether his daughters marry wealthy men and he prefers to live a quiet life.
  5. Mrs. Bennet
    Elizabeth's mother, Mrs. Bennet, is obsessed with marrying all five of her daughters to wealthy aristocrats, which makes her constantly anxious. She fails to understand many of Elizabeth and her husband's sarcastic comments and is portrayed as an ignorant woman.
  6. Jane Bennet
    Jane, the eldest daughter of the Bennet family, is beautiful and kind. Unlike Elizabeth, she is less bothered by her mother's behavior and she tries to go along with her schemes, although she is not fond of them.
  7. Mary Bennet
    Mary, the middle daughter of the Bennet family, spends most of her time trying to improve herself by reading books and focusing on her interests. However, she is not as talented as her sister, Elizabeth.
  8. Catherine Bennet
    The fourth daughter of the Bennet family, Catherine, is very childish and spends most of her time with her sister Lydia.
  9. Lydia Bennet
    The youngest of the Bennet siblings, Lydia is irresponsible and gets the family into trouble. She is also flirtatious and regularly accompanies Catherine to greet the soldiers in their town.
  10. George Wickham
    One of the lower-ranking soldiers who come to Netherfield, Mr. Wickham is quite a lady's man and spends time with the Bennet girls. There is an unknown tension between him and Mr. Darcy but we find it out later why in the novel.
  11. Charlotte Lucas
    Elizabeth's closest friend, who is six years older than her and in her late twenties. Charlotte is a sensible person who is also seeking a suitable husband, like the Bennet sisters.
  12. Mr. Collins
    Mr. Collins is Mr. Bennet's relative and the heir to Bennet's house. He is a conceited clergyman who works for Lady Catherine de Bourgh.
  13. Lady Catherine de Bourgh
    Lady Catherine is Mr. Darcy's aunt and a very wealthy aristocrat. She looks down on the middle class and takes pride in her social status. Mr. Collins works in the church that belongs to Lady Catherine's estate.


Detailed Analysis of Pride and Prejudice through the Themes: Is the Novel Really About Love?

Firstly, I would like to talk about the idea behind the book's title and the importance given to marriage in Victorian society. Pride, known as one of the seven deadly sins of Christianity, is also a social taboo. Prejudice is somewhat similar to pride, it involves negative attributions to something without logical justification, placing oneself in a superior position to others based on preconceived opinions. 

In this sense, both pride and prejudice are socially unacceptable phenomena. They both pose threats to the harmony of the society. In Pride and Prejudice Elizabeth represents prejudice, while Darcy represents pride, but in reality, both of them are with pride and they are prejudiced against their society. They believe that those around them are mostly foolish, uncultured, and dull, which can disrupt social harmony.

Mr Darcy and Elizabeth, Themes in Pride and Prejudice

If you've read this novel before, you probably perceive Elizabeth and Darcy's love to be something romantic, however, I'm going to present a different perspective. If you've noticed, their love story is confined to very brief and late parts of the book. Both of these proud and non-conformist characters are initially against marriage. Marriage is an institution established for the continuation of society's lineage and the upbringing of beneficial individuals for the society.

The individuals that are against marrying are considered non-conformists, and the institution of marriage aims to change their views and redeem them from their sins. In fact, Elizabeth and Darcy's marriage embodies precisely this idea. The patriarchal society suggests that the best future for women lies in marriage, and this theme is emphasized throughout the novel, which in my opinion makes marriage and love to be the most important themes of Pride and Prejudice. Unfortunately, in such a society, women do not have the right to choose their true love. Although it may seem like Elizabeth and Jane chose to marry out of love, the ingrained idea that they had to marry to secure their futures might have influenced their decision into marrying. They might not have chosen to marry if such influences weren't present.

Marriage, in a way, represents the amalgamation of economic and cultural wealth and the potential for further enrichment. Throughout the book, except for the scene where Elizabeth and Darcy confess their love for each other, there is little romance or love depicted. Now, let's discuss an interesting aspect: the time when this book was written, the 18th century, marked the emergence of the middle class. The aristocracy was gradually losing its economic and liberal power, while the middle class was gaining prominence. In such a period, there was only one option for the aristocracy not to vanish completely: to unite their power with the middle class.

Mr. Darcy was a true aristocrat, while Elizabeth came from the middle class. Their marriage represents precisely this alliance. Jane Austen, through the institution of marriage, intended to convey that prosperity could only be achieved through the collaboration of the aristocracy and the middle class. Hence, Pride and Prejudice is not a love story but rather a social analysis and critique. Although the film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice portrays it as a romantic novel, it actually depicts a much different situation.

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

One of the most delightful quotes from Pride and Prejudice, this one also is the novel's very first sentence. Let's analyze this quote in detail; first of all, this is not a literal truth; rather, it represents a societal phenomenon. Jane Austen's inclusion of the phrase 'It is a truth universally acknowledged' at the beginning of the sentence is almost mocking, indicating that she is criticizing those who think this way. Throughout the book, we see that this statement is not true, even with characters like Darcy. In fact, through this sentence, Austen is criticizing those who share the same mindset as Mrs. Bennet.

Pride and Prejudice, with its word plays and themes, was undoubtedly a novel far ahead of its time and, if it is read correctly, it offers many life lessons. Now that you have read this article, do you think Pride and Prejudice is a love story or not? I would be delighted if you shared your thoughts in the comments, as it could lead to an interesting discussion.

You can read this article in Turkish from here: Gurur ve Önyargı İncelemesi: Gerçekten Bir Aşk Romanı Mı?

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How many Bennet sisters are there in Pride and Prejudice?
    There are 5 Bennet sisters in total in Pride and Prejudice, which are Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Catherine, and Lydia in order.
  2. How old is Elizabeth Bennet?
    Elizabeth Bennet is 20 years old at the beginning of the novel.
  3. What is Pride and Prejudice page count?
    Pride and Prejudice consists of 443 pages in the Ex Libris, Vintage Classics edition.
  4. When is Pride and Prejudice set?
    Pride and Prejudice is set in between 1700 and 1800 but the exact years are not known.
  5. When was Pride and Prejudice written?
    The first edition of Pride and Prejudice was published in 1813; however, the novel itself was written between the years 1796 and 1797 by Jane Austen.

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