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Christina ~ Pride and Prejudice Symbolism and Theme

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Christina Uzzo

on 5 December 2012

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Transcript of Christina ~ Pride and Prejudice Symbolism and Theme

Pride and Prejudice The Symbols and Themes Jane Austin By: Christina Uzzo Dress and Appearance Houses and Estates The Written Word Countenance Overall Theme: Class All the symbols and sub-themes relate back to the issue of class and the importance of social rank in 19th Century English society. Presenting Elizabeth Bennet: Book poster with all the words of the novel "It is nothing in comparison of Rosings, my lady, I dare say; but I assure you it is much larger than Sir William Lucas's" -Mrs. Bennet of her own Estate (335). When Elizabeth arrives to Mr. Bingley's estate with her hem muddy from the journey, she feels that Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst "[hold] her in contempt for it" (31). Love versus Luxury While not within one's own home, appearance can be used to portray a higher rank than the one possessed. For though it is a quick determination of rank, it is one that can be manipulated easier than others, leading to the great importance that is place upon one's appearance. Mr. Collins advises Elizabeth, saying, "Do not make yourself uneasy, my dear cousin, about your apparel. Lady Catherine is far from requiring that eloquence of dress in us which becomes herself and her daughter. . . She likes the distinction of rank preserved" (155). Mr. Darcy, "looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till catching her eye, he withdrew his own and coldly said, 'She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to temp me'" (11). The fate of Mr. Bennet's estate is the source from which all social problems stem. Because Mr. Collins is the heir instead of the Bennet daughters, the daughters are forced to marry men of higher status - men who also know that they will not receive a large dowry. Pemberley is portrayed as having the most beautiful house and grounds out of all the estates. For this reason the reader imagines it's owner - Mr. Darcy - as enjoying a higher rank than all the other characters, including Mrs. de Borough. Many moments of utter truth being conveyed occur through letters. Countenance and how one carries one's self are important in their society, however a letter privately opened can elicit the raw emotion. Upon reading Mr. Darcy's letter, Elizabeth, "grew absolutely ashamed of herself. Of neither Darcy nor Wickham could she think without feeling that she had been blind, partial, prejediced, absurd" (198). Reputation = family history + personal actions Mr. Wickham, an officer with the repute of a hellion, and Lydia, the youngest daughter known for her obsequious flirtation, best exemplify the importance of reputation. Elizabeth laments the freedom that Lydia has been given, as she is convinced, "Lydia had wanted only encouragement to attach herself to anybody . . . The mischief of neglect and mistaken indulgence towards such a girl - Oh! how acutely did [Elizabeth] feel it now" (266). Not only is one's reputation important for one's self, it also affects the whole family. Elizabeth is dissuaded from Mr. Wickham becasue she learns of his past attempt at eloping with Miss. Darcy. At the same time she discovers that Mr. Darcy's reputation is false, therefore causing her opinion to change and her affection to bud. Wickham and Lydia Darcy and Elizabeth For many of the characters, love and the potential for class gain become blurred. Mrs. Bennet is the perfect example as she vows never to speak to Elizabeth again if she does not accept Mr. Collins' offer, despite the fact that his loathsome qualities are well known in the Bennet household. After Elizabeth's refusal, Mr. Collins indignantly informs her that, "in spite of [her] manifold attractions, it is by no means certain that another offer of marriage" will be made to her as her economic connections are inadequate (104). Mr. Collins, "addressed himself particularly to her, as if to make her feel what she had lost in refusing him" (151). "Whatever my connections may be . . . if your nephew does not object to them they can be nothing to you" (339). who broke free from the social system. The one who went against her family's convictions, who chose love over material gain, who burst ahead from her time period, and Elizabeth's words to Lady Catherine de Borough upon being confronted on the subject of Mr. Darcy. The status of a person can explain almost any behavior such as Lydia's interminable flirting (stems from her need for a wealthy husband) and Mr. Darcy's pride (stems from the prestige of being the master of Pemberley). How one is perceived through dress, housing, composure and reputation is almost as important as one's actual status. Pemberley
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