Symbolism In Pride and Prejudice
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In her beloved novel, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen did not heavily employ symbolism to represent abstract concepts or ideas. The lack of symbolism is likely the result of Austen's tendency to concentrate upon dialogue rather than narrative description. However, one important symbol found within the book is Pemberley, the Darcy family estate. Through her narrative, Austen demonstrates that Pemberley and its components represent the relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy.
- During her visit to Pemberley, Elizabeth's feelings toward the home gradually warms, which echoes her shifting affections toward the man.
- Elizabeth crosses a bridge to talk to Darcy. Her crossing of the Pemberley bridge represents the social divide that the two must cross in order to be together.
- Pemberley may also be interpreted to represent the man Darcy as well.
The house itself was surrounded by a stream which "was swelled into greater, but without any artificial appearance". The description of swelling caused by artificiality suggests the consequences of pride, which causes Darcy to condescend toward others. As Elizabeth further explores the estate, she finds the banks of Pemberley to be "neither formal nor falsely adorned". This description also fits the gentleman but Elizabeth will not be able to see past his pride to understand the man until after the two become better acquainted.
Even with the main characters of Darcy and Elizabeth there is much conflict as there is in Austen's society.Even when Darcy becomes aware of Elizabeth's virtues, instead of accepting her and her position, he tries to separate her from her background. "In his dealings with Elizabeth, Darcy begins to behave politely, but he continues to express contempt for the Bennet family and the people of Meryton." Elizabeth on the other hand is very prideful.She does not accept Darcy's attention because of the way he treats her and her family.This is very bold for the time because she may be endangering her chances of having a husband.
Another issue that is brought to the table, in how well read Elizabeth is.In her description of the heroine, Austen lets it known that she is an educated, smart, thinking character. At a time when most women are tutored at home and only in the home economics field, this adds a little drama to the character. Darcy finds this an intriguing part of Elizabeth's personality but at the same time is frustrated that she thinks on her own and makes her own choices.
Austen deals with many social issues in Pride and Prejudice, just as she does with most of her novels. She projects her own ideas onto these norms though.Elizabeth and Darcy getting together at the end of the book, is just one example. Instead of Darcy, who is rational, marrying someone in his own class, as was the norm, he gives into his irrational, his love for Elizabeth and therefore marries her. This marriage for love may have been one of the reasons why the book was popular because this idea was new and just starting to take hold. "For women, the path to success was a rich husband, but neither Jane nor her sister Cassandra proved willing in the end to purchase freedom, wealth, or status at the price of a loveless marriage." Whatever reasons, Jane Austen used her book to examine both the pride and prejudices that people had.