Significance of the Title of the Novel Pride and Prejudice
The title “Pride and Prejudice” is very likely taken from a passage in Fanny Burney’s popular 1782 novel Cecilia. The novel deals with the gradual union of Darcy and Elizabeth. Shortly after they meet, the begin to diverge because of their ‘Pride’ and ‘Prejudice’; but in course of time, Darcy’s pride demolishes and Elizabeth’s prejudice turns into a reasoned attitude and finally they are best suited to each other for a marital relationship.
At the Meryton ball, When Bingley suggests that Darcy should dance with Elizabeth, he makes the insulting remark that she is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt him. Elizabeth overhears his remark and fells somewhat slighted and becomes prejudiced against him. Her prejudice against him is strengthened by the lies told by George Wickham who says that Darcy has deprived him of his father’s promised career of a clergyman to Wickham. Further, Colonel Fitzwilliam reveals to her that Darcy is responsible for dissuading Bingley from marrying Jane.Elizabeth is agitated over the revelation and hates Darcy as never before for medding in Jane’s life.
Though Elizabeth is prejudiced against Darcy, he begins to feel affection for her. He is attracted by the beautiful expression of her dark eyes. When Elizabeth was staying with the Collinses, Darcy made his first proposal to her. Elizabeth turns down his proposal accusing him of dissuading Mr. Bingley from marrying Jane and his ill-treatment towards Mr. Wickham. In order to defend himself he writes a letter to her. Regarding Jane and Bingley, Darcy admits that he persuaded Bingley to give up Jane, for he had the impression that Jane did not really love Bingley. As for Wickham, Darcy states that after the death of Darcy’s father, Wickham wished to take up law and gave up his claim to a church living by accepting in lieu of it 3,000 pounds to use it to study law. Darcy gave him 3,000 pounds but Wickham misspent the money, and tried to get more from Darcy, and when that failed, tried to elope with Darcy’s sister, which was foiled by Darcy.
Now, learning the truth about Wickham and Darcy’s frank confession that he has dissuaded Mr. Binhley from marrying Jane, Elizabeth’s prejudice begins to melt away. Besides, when she visits Pemberley, the housekeeper Mrs. Reynolds praises Darcy as a sweet tempered and benevolent young man. Darcy also plays a vital role in materializing Lydia’s marriage to Wickham because he paid all of Wickham’s debts and bought him a commission in the army. When Darcy proposes to her for second time, he says that what he has done it out of his deep love for her. He wishes to know if she has changed her mind after her first refusal. Elizabeth responds that her feelings have greatly changed and that she also loves him.
Darcy admits to Elizabeth that her refusal of his first proposal caused him to examine his pride. While making his first proposal of marriage to Elizabeth, he was sure that she would accept it most readily and promptly. But she had humbled him by rejecting his proposal and made him realize that he was not worthy of her as long as he remained a proud and conceited man. Thus, Elizabeth had taught him a lesson by refusing his proposal which helps him to get free from his pride. As for Elizabeth, she overcomes her prejudice gradually for Darcy’s real affection for her. Thus, the title of the novel is justified.