Throughout, Austen describes the personalities of the Bennet sisters and how they contend with their contemporary world in different ways. It’s a novel that also deals with the issues of manners, upbringing, morality, education, and marriage in the society of the landed gentry in the north of England in the early 19th-century.
‘Spoiler-free’ Summary of Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen set in the imaginary country village of Longbourn in Hertfordshire follows the story of Elizabeth Bennet. She is the second of the five daughters of Mr. & Mrs. Bennet. Mrs. Bennet is worried about marrying her daughters into to wealthy family, especially the elder ones Jane, the beautiful, and Lizzy (Elizabeth), the smartest. On the contrary, Elizabeth wants to marry only for love. Thus, she had to deal with the issues of manners, upbringing, morality, education, and marriage in the society of the landed gentry of early 19th-century England.
When Mr. Charles Bingley, a single man of a large fortune, moves into the neighborhood with his fashionable sisters, Mrs. Bennet finds him a good match for Jane. She hopes that Jane could make anyone fall in love with her beauty and good nature. Unfortunately, the three younger sisters Mary, Catherine, and Lydia, often prove to be the hindrance with their inappropriate and unguarded behavior.
Meanwhile, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, a friend of Bingley too arrives on the scene, who is even richer with a great estate in Derbyshire. But, soon noticed by the people as proud and arrogant, and considered as the most disagreeable man, eaten up with pride. Whickam’s arrival and Mr. Bingly’s uninformed departure make the story complex. The story progress, as Elizabeth and Darcy continue to cross paths. While he is intrigued, she seems indifferent. She challenges his contempt with impertinence.
Pride and Prejudice Summary
Spoiler alert: important details of the novel are revealed below.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen open in early 19th century rural England. Opening with the most popular saying, “a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” The novel tells us the story of Mr. Bennet’s family of five unmarried daughters and their hope for a better marriage. Second of the five daughters Elizabeth (Lizzy) is the narrator and the protagonist of the novel.
The story opens with the arrival of Mr. Bingley, a wealthy, charming, and sociable young bachelor, into Netherfield Park in the neighborhood of the Bennet family. Upon his arrival, he brings with him his two sisters and a Mr. Darcy. While Mr. Bingley was well-received, Mr. Darcy becomes the object of contempt with his proud and arrogant nature. Soon, Mr. Bingley singles out Jane, and they form a visible attachment to each other.
Yet, Jane does not alter her conduct for him, which turns out to be a mistake that leads to a heartbreaking separation on both sides. While Jane is and her family is overjoyed with Bigley’s preference, Elizabeth is mortified by the arrogance of Darcy, who finds her to tolerable than attractive to dance with. Although she laughs at his attitude, a slight resentment formed in her heart is undeniable.
During her visit to Netherfield, Jane falls sick and is forced to stay there for several days. Elizabeth rushes to be with her. Being there, she often happens to be in the company of Mr. Darcy. Observing her closely, he is intrigued and begins to act less coldly, while she acts indifferent.
In the meantime, Mr. Collins, a clergyman, who is also the legal heir to Mr. Bennet, pays a visit to the Bennets. Upon his arrival, it becomes evident that he has come to choose Ms. Bennet as his wife. But, Mrs.Bennet who was hoping for prospective marriage between Bingley and Jane, Suggests Elizabeth. Meanwhile, Elizabeth forms an acquaintance with Mr. Wickham, a militia officer. He tells her of how he was mistreated by Mr. Darcy, despite him being treated as a son by Darcy’s father. Elizabeth’s prejudice over Darcy and her budding attraction to Mr. Wickham, further fuels her dislike of Mr. Darcy.
In due course, Mr. Bingley conducts a ball at Netherfield and Darcy becomes aware of a general expectation that Mr. Bingley and Jane will marry. Soon, to Mrs. Bennet’s distress, Elizabeth rejects Mr. Collin’s proposal and Mr. Bingley quits Netherfield and returns to London. Eventually, Mr. Collins marries poor Ms. Charlotte Lucas.
During next spring, Elizabeth visits Charlotte and Mr. Collins at Rosings Park, home of Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who turned out to be Darcy’s aunt. Elizabeth comes to know of Darcy’s influence in separating Bingley from Jane, through Colonel meets Darcy’s cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam. This further increases her hatred for Darcy and makes her rejects his proposal when he comes to proposes to her. She accuses him of spoiling her sister’s happiness, treating Mr. Wickham disgracefully, and behaving in an arrogant, ungentlemanlike manner. Mr. Darcy is shocked to hear all these accusations, in the beginning, conducts himself and leaves her a letter of explanation. In the letter, he explains how Wickham had exchanged his legacies for a cash payment and gambled away the money.
He explains his attempt to run away with Darcy’s young sister Georgiana, to inherit her share of the fortune. In Jane’s case, Darcy claims to have not found any reciprocation in Jane for Bingley, misled to think that she is interested only in his wealth, added with Mrs. Bennet’s ongoing excitement over Mr. Bingley’s financial prospects. Elizabeth, who had observed it herself, now made clear of Darcy’s stand and starts to wonder if she has misjudged him.
A few months later, Elizabeth accompanies her Aunt and Uncle Gardiner, where they visit Pemberley, Darcy’s estate. She hopes not to meet him, but he returns unexpectedly, yet to her surprise treats them with great civility. He also introduces Elizabeth to his sister. Elizabeth becomes aware of her attraction to Darcy. Unfortunately, their reacquaintance is cut short, by the news of Lydia eloping with Mr. Wickham. Back in Longbourn, she grieves that her renewed relationship with Mr. Darcy will end because of Lydia’s mindless act.
However, the family receives the news of Lydia and Wickham being found and married by the clergy. When they visit Longbourn, Lydia slips out that Mr. Darcy’s role in finding and negotiating their marriage, at great personal and monetary expense. In the following days, Mr. Bingley returns to Netherfield and subsequently proposes to Jane, who immediately accepts.
The major twist in Austen’s novel happens with the arrival of Lady Catherine de Bourgh at Longbourn. She appears unwarned to stop Elizabeth from marrying him, taken over by the local rumors of the prospective connection between Darcy and Elizabeth. Shocked by her impertinence, Elizabeth refuses her demands. Disgusted, Lady Catherine informs Darcy of Elizabeth’s abominable behavior. Darcy, on the other hand, rendered with hope, travels to Longbourn, and proposes again. The narrative at this part makes it clear that they have been relieved of their pride and prejudice. Elizabeth accepts happily.
What is the main theme of Pride and Prejudice?
The main themes are love and marriage. The achievement of these two things in life, and how they do and do not intersect, lasts throughout the novel as both Jane and Elizabeth look for love.
What is the message of Pride and Prejudice?
The message is how pride and prejudice can disrupt one’s chances at happiness. These faults have to be put away in order to see the world as it is.
Does Pride and Prejudice have a happy ending?
Yes, Pride and Prejudice ends with both Bennet sisters, Jane and Elizabeth, getting married and finding love. Jane with Charles Bingley and Elizabeth with Fitzwilliam Darcy.
How old is Darcy in Pride and Prejudice?
He is twenty-eight years old during the events of the novel while Elizabeth is twenty years old.