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Pride and Prejudice essay thesis statement &gt


Pride and Prejudice

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Pride and Prejudice Themes

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Pride

As Mary says in Chapter 5, "human nature is particularly prone to [pride]." Throughout Pride and Prejudice , pride prevents the characters from seeing the truth of a situation. Most notably, it is one of the two primary barriers in the way of a union between Elizabeth and Darcy. Darcy’s pride in his social position leads him to scorn anyone outside of his own social circle. Meanwhile, Elizabeth’s pride in her powers of discernment cloud her judgment. These two find happiness by helping each other overcome his/her pride. Outside of Elizabeth and Darcy, however, Austen seems pessimistic about the human ability to conquer this character flaw. A slew of secondary characters, like Mrs. Bennet , Lady Catherine , Mr. Collins , and Caroline Bingley , remain deluded by personal pride throughout the novel.

Prejudice

Critic A. Walton Litz comments, "in Pride and Prejudice one cannot equate Darcy with Pride, or Elizabeth with Prejudice; Darcy’s pride of place is founded on social prejudice, while Elizabeth’s initial prejudice against him is rooted in pride of her own quick perceptions." Ultimately, both characters’ egos drive them towards personal prejudice. Darcy has been taught to scorn anyone outside his own social circle and must overcome his prejudice in order to endear himself to Elizabeth. Similarly, Elizabeth’s excessive pride in her discernment leads her write Darcy off too quickly. Ultimately, they find happiness by recognizing the barriers that prejudice creates.

Family

Austen portrays the family unit as primarily responsible for the intellectual and moral education of children. Throughout the novel, the younger characters either benefit from or suffer from their family values. Mr. and Mrs. Bennet’s failure to provide their daughters with a proper education leads to Lydia ‘s utter foolishness and immorality. Elizabeth and Jane manage to develop virtue and discernment in spite of their parents’ negligence, though it is notable that they have other role models (like the Gardiners). Darcy shares his father’s aristocratic nature and tendency towards generosity, while Lady Catherine’s formidable parenting style has rendered her daughter too frightened to speak.

Women

Austen is certainly critical of the gender injustices present in 19th century English society, particularly as perpetrated by the institution of marriage. In Pride and Prejudice, many women (such as Charlotte ) must marry solely for the sake of financial security. However, in her portrayal of Elizabeth, Austen shows that women are just as intelligent and capable as their male counterparts. Jane Austen herself went against convention by remaining single and earning a living through her novels. In her personal letters, Austen advised friends only to marry for love. In the novel, Elizabeth’s happy ending reveals Austen’s beliefs that woman has the right to remain independent until she meets the right man (if she meets him).

On the other hand, most contemporary readers will find the Longbourn entailment to be unjust. And yet the heroines – Jane and Elizabeth – refrain from speaking out against it. Instead, the only two characters who openly criticize the entailment – Mrs. Bennet and Lady Catherine – are ridiculous caricatures. Furthermore, the fact that Elizabeth seems to share her father’s distrust frivolous women suggests Austen’s uneasy relationship with her own gender.

Class

Class issues are everywhere in Pride and Prejudice. While the novel never posits an egalitarian ideology nor supports the leveling of all social classes, it does criticize an over-emphasis on class, especially in terms of judging a person’s character. Ultimately, the novel accepts Elizabeth’s view that the trappings of wealth are not a virtue in and of themselves. Darcy’s initial pride is based on his extreme class-consciousness, but he eventually comes to accept Elizabeth’s perspective, most notably evidenced through his admiration of the Gardiners. Likewise, he joins Elizabeth in rejecting the upper-class characters who are idle, mean-spirited, closed-minded, like Lady Catherine and Bingley’s sisters.

Austen clearly finds rigid class boundaries to be occasionally absurd. Mr. Collins’s comic formality and obsequious relationship with Lady Catherine form a satire of class consciousness and social formalities. In the end, the novel’s verdict on class differences is moderate. Austen seems to accept the existence of class hierarchy, but she also criticizes the way it can poison society. Critic Samuel Kliger notes, "If the conclusion of the novel makes it clear that Elizabeth accepts class relationships as valid, it becomes equally clear that Darcy, through Elizabeth’s genius for treating all people with respect for their natural dignity, is reminded that institutions are not an end in themselves but are intended to serve the end of human happiness."

Individual vs. Society

In Pride and Prejudice, Austen portrays a world in which society is actively involved in the private lives of individuals. Characters often face questions about their responsibility to the world around them. A prime example is Darcy’s guilt for not having publicly shamed Wickham before he was able to elope with Lydia. After all, Lydia’s sin threatens to besmirch not only her family, but the community at large. And yet Austen seems quite well aware of how easily public opinion can change, as evidenced by the town’s easily shifting opinions on Wickham.

Elizabeth, meanwhile, is proudly independent and individualistic. She possesses the ability to transcend her limitations – the negligence of her parents, the frivolity of Meryton, the pragmatic nature of Charlotte – because she is confident enough to go after what she wants. However, her individualistic nature misleads her as she works through her feelings for Darcy – but thankfully, Mrs. Gardiner is there to guide her towards him. Ultimately, Austen is critical of the power public opinion has on individual action, but she also believes that society has a crucial role in promoting virtue and therefore, engendering individual happiness. According to critic Richard Simpson, Austen portrays a "thorough consciousness that man is a social being, and that apart from society there is not even the individual."

Virtue

Austen’s novels unite Aristotelian and Christian conceptions of virtue. She sees human life as purposeful and believes that human beings must guide their appetites and desires through their use of reason. For instance, Elizabeth almost loses her chance at happiness because her vanity overcomes her pragmatism. Lydia’s lack of virtue is linked with her inability to control her passion and desire.

Most of these examples emphasize the importance of self-awareness. Without knowing oneself, it is difficult to develop virtue. Darcy and Elizabeth, two of the only characters who actually change in the novel, can only see past their pride and prejudice with each other’s help. In the end, Austen links happiness to virtue and virtue to self-awareness.

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Study Guide for Pride and Prejudice

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F.M. van Twuijver


2016-06-08

Representing gender in contemporary adaptations of canonical 19th century novels: the case of Pride & Prejudice

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This MA thesis looks into contemporary adaptations of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice and how they make use of the original work. Contemporary adaptations of classic canonical works still use the original work as a key signifier, but this is done in many ways. In regard to adaptation theory, it is relevant to research how this is done. This research focuses on the use of gender roles and how these gender roles are represented within the story. Gender is a concept that has undergone a historical change throughout the last two centuries, also as the understanding of these canonical works, such as Pride & Prejudice. Gender as such a clear focus for signifying a work has had little attention in adaptation theory and should be given more attention. This original work provides a very good case, since from all the adapted canonical works, which is a much adapted genre in itself, this is the most adapted one. The research answers the following question: how are gender roles represented in contemporary adaptations of Pride & Prejudice and how can the similarities and differences with the original work be explained? Through a qualitative textual analysis, based on the Narratology approach by Mieke Bal, three contemporary Pride & Prejudice adaptations are researched: the videogame Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice, the vlog series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and the film production Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. In the analysis characteristics of the personages, relationship between men and women and underlying gender ideology are researched, whilst also looking at the use of the ironic writing style of Austen and her ideas of an empowering heroine. As a result, it is found that even though at first sight the gender roles are divided in a progressive manner, patriarchal notions are still served. The naturalisation of characteristics that are ascribed to genders in still acted upon. Furthermore, the gaze and objectifying is done by both sexes, and perhaps even more by the women, making them progressive. However, since they do not use these tools that will empower them, the female characters remain passive and do not attribute to the narrative development, leaving them subordinate to the male characters. By not progressing assumptions on gender as much as possible, the adaptations serve a more conservative notion on regards towards gender as Jane Austen did in her time. Her use as a signifier for the adaptation is still very visible, but has not progressed with the zeitgeist regarding her ideas on gender. The contemporary adaptations are thus less progressive in regards to gender roles as detectable on first sight.

Additional Metadata
Keywords

gender,

gender roles,

representation,

Pride and Prejudice,

Jane Austen,

canonical works,

contemporary adaptation,

adaptation theory

Thesis Advisor

S.L. Reijnders,

N. van Poecke

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hdl.handle.net/2105/34621

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Master Arts, Culture & Society

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F.M. van Twuijver. (2016, June 8). Representing gender in contemporary adaptations of canonical 19th century novels: the case of Pride & Prejudice. Master Arts, Culture & Society. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/2105/34621

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Home » Essay Topics and Quotations » Pride and Prejudice Thesis Statements and Important Quotes

Pride and Prejudice Thesis Statements and Important Quotes

Below you will find five outstanding thesis statements for “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen that can be used as essay starters or paper topics. All five incorporate at least one of the themes found in Jane Austens novel “Pride and Prejudice” and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements for “Pride and Prejudice” offer a short summary of different elements that could be important in an essay but you are free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot or themes to them. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes from “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen at the bottom of the page, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent paper.

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1: Elizabeth’s Pride and Darcy’s Prejudice

The pride and the prejudice referred to in the title of this Jane Austen novel prepare the reader for the character flaws of the main characters, Elizabeth and Darcy. Elizabeth’s pride and Darcy’s prejudice prevent the two from recognizing and admitting their love for one another. Write an explanatory or expository essay on “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen in which you detail how these character flaws are managed so that the characters can overcome the judgments and opinions that they have formed about each other and ultimately experience love together. You may wish to also reflect upon the social and historical factors which made these character flaws so common, identifying, for example, the role that social status played in relationships at that time.

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #2: Contesting Social Propriety: The Women of Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice takes place in a society and in a historical moment that defined women’s roles and abilities narrowly. A woman was expected to be and behave a certain way, and deviations from the social norm were rebuked, often severely. Examine the various female characters and the small and large ways in which they challenge these strict social roles that have been assigned to them. You may wish to consider one character and go in depth, or to consider a wide range of characters and multiple transgressions. Be sure to include the consequences of these transgressions. Make a case for what you believe Austen’s motive to have been in presenting these episodes to her reader.

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3: The Function of Journeys and the Contrast Between Indoors and Outdoors

The settings of the events that take place in Pride and Prejudice establish tone, mood, and an orientation to the social class and conditions of the characters. The settings also serve important symbolic functions, however. Consider the ways in which indoor and outdoor settings are contrasted in this novel and identify the function that each type of setting plays and meaning it represents. Be sure to explain how the various journeys between these spaces signify certain developments in the novel. In particular, be sure to discuss how journeys represent and precipitate transitions in the characters’ relationships.

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #4: Jane Austen’s Satiric Treatment of the Wealthy

Social class is an important marker of the characters’ conditions and the quality of their relationships in Pride and Prejudice. Austen seems to reserve her satiric wit for an especially critical treatment of wealthier characters. Choose one or more of these characters and compare/contrast how Austen treats them versus how she treats the characters from other social strata. Explain whether the outcomes of the novel support an overall statement with respect to Austen’s opinion about the wealthy.

Thesis Statement/Essay Topic #5: The Rejected Title

Before the novel was published as Pride and Prejudice, Austen’s working title for this text was First Impressions. Consider which title is more evocative and effective in supporting the thematic development of the novel. Once you have chosen the title you prefer, write an argumentative essay in which you defend your choice. Explain why the title you have chosen is most effective.


This list of important quotations from “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen will help you work with the essay topics and thesis statements above by allowing you to support your claims. All of the important quotes from Jane Austens novel listed here correspond, at least in some way, to the paper topics above and by themselves can give you great ideas for an essay by offering quotes and explanations about other themes, symbols, imagery, and motifs than those already mentioned and explained.  Aside from the thesis statements above, these quotes from “Pride and Prejudice” alone can act as essay questions or study questions as they are all relevant to the text in an important way. All quotes contain page numbers as well. Look at the bottom of the page to identify which edition of the text by Jane Austen they are referring to.

“[Mrs. Bennet] was a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper. When she was discontented she fancied herself nervous. The business of her life was to get her daughters married; its solace was visiting and news.” (226)

“Mr. Darcy walked off; and Elizabeth remained with no very cordial feelings towards him. She told the story however with great spirit among her friends; for she had a lively, playful disposition, which delighted in any thing ridiculous.” (230)

“[Mr. Darcy] is a most disagreeable, horrid man, not at all worth pleasing. So high and so conceited that there was no enduring him! He walked here, and he walked there, fancying himself so very great! Not handsome enough to dance with! I wish you had been there, my dear, to have given him one of your set downs. I quite detest the man.” (231)

“…Elizabeth was far from suspecting that she was herself becoming an object of some interest….Mr. Darcy had at first scarcely allowed her to be pretty; he had looked at her without admiration at the ball; and when they next met, he looked at her only to criticize. But no sooner had he made it clear to himself and his friends that she had hardly a good feature in her face, than he began to find it was rendered uncommonly intelligent by the beautiful expression of her dark eyes.” (236)

“Though he had detected with a critical eye more than one failure of perfect symmetry in her form, he was forced to acknowledge her figure to be light and pleasing; and inspite of his asserting that her manners were not those of the fashionable world, he was caught by their easy playfulness.” (236)

“…when nothing better offered, a walk to Merryton was necessary to amuse their morning hours and furnish conversation for the evening; and however bare of news the country in general might be, they always contrived to learn some…..” (239)

“I have faults enough but they are not, I hope, of understanding. My temper I dare not vouch for….I cannot forget the follies and vices of others as soon as I ought, nor their offences against myself. My feelings are not puffed about with every attempt to move them. My temper would perhaps be called resentful. My good opinion, once lost, is lost for ever.” (257)

“These is, I belief, in every disposition a tendency to some particular evil, a natural defect, which not even the best education can overcome.” (257)

“And your defect is a propensity to hate everybody…. And yours,…is willfully to misunderstand them.” (257)

“Elizabeth, as they drove along, watched for the first appearance of Pemberley Woods with some perturbation, and when at length they turned in at the lodge, her spirits were in a high flutter.” (361)

Reference:  Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. In The Complete Novels of Jane Austen.  New York: Penguin, 1983

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