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Literature: Pride and Prejudice

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."
Opening line

The second novel by the Genre Savvy, snarky Jane Austen — a Take That at Love at First Sight.

Possessing one of the best-known opening lines of all time, the story is a sharp, witty, insightful and tremendously funny romance, both mindful and mocking of sexual politics as they relate to social mores. Elizabeth Bennet is the second of the five daughters of Mr and Mrs Bennet, upper-middle-class gentry who live in Longbourn, a small estate in rural England at the time of the Napoleonic Wars. Her father is a cynical, snarky recluse, her mother is a fatuous, rather ill-bred airhead obsessed with her daughters' futures and her elder sister Jane is a sweet-natured beauty. Her younger sisters, by contrast, are uniformly "silly": pretentious, grumpy Mary; giggly, easily-led Kitty; and uncontrollable, foolish Lydia.

The story follows the Bennets and their attempts to marry for love, despite being in a position from which this was severely impractical. While Jane quickly falls for the well-off, good-natured newcomer Mr Bingley, Elizabeth is entirely too cynical to attract as sweet a man. Her nature does, however, attract a variety of other suitors: the well-connected but unctuous vicar Mr Collins, a man without any sense of humour lost in the novel's World of Snark; the dashing, penniless and self-deprecating foot soldier Mr Wickham; and Bingley's friend, Mr Darcy, who to all appearances is a cold-blooded and arrogant bore. Meanwhile, Lydia causes trouble for everyone, and Elizabeth and Darcy learn a lesson or two about first impressions and making assumptions.

It has been adapted into several movies and TV series; the 1940 adaptation stars Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier, the 1995 BBC serial will forever see generations of women swoon over Colin Firth as the most romantic man alive whether he particularly wants them to or not, and the 2005 movie saw Keira Knightley star as Elizabeth and Matthew Macfayden as Darcy. In 2009, Marvel Illustrated produced a Comic Book Adaptation, script by Nancy Butler, pencils by Hugo Petrus and covers by Sonny Liew.

As a famous public domain novel, it was subjected to nerd-ification in 2009 with the publishing of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Many modern writers have picked up where Austen left off, trying their hand at publishing continuation stories about Darcy and Elizabeth as well as some of the minor characters; one notable example is the 2011 unofficial sequel Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James. In 2013, Jo Baker wrote a version of the story from the perspective of the servants, Longbourn.

In terms of modern adapations, there's always the Bridget Jones franchise, which takes on this, and then Austen's Persuasion for its sequel. More recently, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a modernised adaptation (headed in part by Hank Green), began airing on YouTube in early 2012 in the form of a video blog. In this version there are three Bennet sisters (Jane, Lizzie and Lydia) and Charlotte's role is greatly expanded. Oh, and there's Matches And Matrimony, a Dating Sim.

By the way, the title refers to the two qualities that keep Darcy and Elizabeth from getting together. "Pride" is usually associated with Darcy (his initial snobbery toward those considered beneath him in social rank) and "prejudice" with Elizabeth (her judgements of Darcy and Wickham based solely on first impressions and hearsay, without really knowing either of them); however, they each display both qualities.

It is a trope universally acknowledged:

  • Affably Evil: Wickham is terribly charming, even after everyone knows what a scumbag he is.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Jane's hair colour is never mentioned in the novel but she's frequently portrayed as a blonde (except in the 1940 film).
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: The allegedly plain Charlotte is played in the 1995 miniseries by the decidedly attractive Lucy Scott.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Many characters are frequently subject to this.
    • Mr Collins's characterisation tends to waver between 'sexual predator' to 'awkward but sincere''.
    • Mary usually benefits from this due to cultural differences (see Values Dissonance on the YMMV page). While she is a Shrinking Violet, she's also a Know-Nothing Know-It-All who loves to lecture and moralise - as well as hog the piano. A lot of adaptations file off the unlikable parts of Mary, making her more sympathetic.
    • Mrs Bennett will often be portrayed as good natured despite her pompous ways. The novel is from Lizzie's perspective and she doesn't care for her mother - whereas the films are able to be more neutral.
  • Adults Are Useless: Played with when it comes to the Bennet parents. As seen below, Mrs Bennet doesn't have a subtle bone in her body and suffers from a dire lack of common sense, taking to her bed when things go wrong, while Mr Bennet is far more calm and sensible. However, if you look at it another way, you can argue that Mr Bennet is just as bad as his wife. After all, at least she's trying to make sure that their daughters are provided for, while back in the day he arrogantly assumed that he'd father a son to take over the estate, and didn't bother saving in case the desired male heir didn't come along - thus meaning his daughters have pretty pathetic dowries. Also, while Mrs Bennet indulges her younger daughters, Mr Bennet doesn't ever seem to discipline them either, with disastrous results. When Lydia elopes with Wickham, Mr Bennet even admits how foolishly he behaved to Lizzie.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Mrs Bennet, so very much. Her unsubtle attempts to set her daughters up with prospective husbands - especially in the case of Jane and Mr Bingley, acting as if they are already engaged after they've just met - is mortifying to her two older daughters. The younger ones are just as embarrassing as her. The consequences of this behaviour are more serious than usual because the family's antics are the biggest reason why Darcy persuades Mr Bingley not to marry Jane.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Darcy's might be the most famous of all. The fact that he is anguished because Elizabeth is in a worldly sense not good enough for him puts a damper on the romance, though.
  • Arch-Enemy: Wickham for Darcy
  • Attention Whore: Mary and Lydia, each in her own way.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Fitzwilliam Darcy
  • Babies Ever After: In the letter where Mr Collins warns Mr Bennet that Lady Catherine disapproves of Elizabeth marrying Darcy, he mentions that Charlotte is pregnant.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Often played completely straight in adaptations which condense the story because of time constraints. In the original novel, though, it's only from Darcy's end; Elizabeth actually dislikes Darcy strongly for a while and only begins to warm to him halfway through the novel, after which point the tension is much less belligerent.
  • Beta Couple: Jane Bennet and Mr Bingley, to the readers. To the characters within the story, it's Lizzy and Darcy. Played with, in fact, in a way strongly reminiscent of Much Ado About Nothing, with Jane/Bingley resembling Claudio/Hero (fall in love quickly, sweet and modest, driven apart and together again by forces beyond their control or understanding) and Elizabeth/Darcy resembling Beatrice/Benedick (mentors to nominal alpha couple, initially dislike each other but grow to love each other, more control over their fates).
  • Betty and Veronica Switch: Elizabeth with George Wickham and Fitzwilliam Darcy. To appearances, the gentlemen are the charming impoverished woobie versus the Idle Rich Jerk Ass with No Social Skills. In reality, they are the Manipulative Bastard Gold Digger versus the Jerk with a Heart of Gold Reasonable Authority Figure.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Darcy for his little sister Georgiana.
  • Big Brother Worship: Georgiana more or less thinks her brother is flawless.
  • Big Fancy House: Rosings and Pemberley, although Elizabeth is pleased to see that Pemberley is actually not overly fancy. Netherfield also qualifies, to a lesser extent.
  • Birds of a Feather:
    • The marriages of all three of the Bennet sisters work like this; a running Jane Austen theme is that love is a combination of esteem, friendship and like-mindedness. (Although in the case of Lydia, they have the like-mindedness but not necessarily the mutual esteem or friendship, as it's clear that she is much more into Wickham than he is into her, and the ending implies that what affection they do have for each other turns into indifference before long.)
    • Subverted with Mr and Mrs Bennet, and with Charlotte and Mr Collins. Of course, Charlotte keeps Mr Collins ignorant of this fact; he even comments to Elizabeth that he and Charlotte "are of but one mind and one way of thinking. We seem to have been designed for each other".
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Wickham is a male version.
  • Blue Blood: The de Bourghs. Though all of the important characters are from land-owning families and thus considered "gentry," only one is titled. Sir William's title is not of the hereditary sort, so of the cast only Lady Catherine is an actual aristocrat. (Her father was an earl, and her brother — Colonel Fitzwilliam's father - now holds the title.)
  • Bookworm: Mr Bennet regards reading as one of his principal enjoyments, and enjoys sharing it with his daughter Elizabeth. Mary also reads voraciously.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: All three of the younger daughters, in different ways...
    • Lydia. She's selfish, completely self-involved, materialistic and cares absolutely nothing about the people who are hurt because of her, the trouble she causes for her family or the consequences of her stupid actions. What's worse is that she won't even acknowledge that her actions were stupid or had damaging effects, and she's helped along in this by Mrs Bennet who has a similar personality type.
    • Mary qualifies to a lesser extent. She is one because of her pompous moralising and general self-involved attitude; she works too hard for accomplishments and praise because she's the least attractive of the five girls, and receives less attention than her prettier sisters. The ending shows her improvement, though; she becomes her mother's companion once her sisters are married off, so she's forced to socialise. Moreover, without her sisters as comparisons, she's no longer reduced to "the plain daughter", which makes her feel better about herself.
    • Kitty tends to follow in Lydia's footsteps and as such is a milder version of her. She is also implied, through various comments by other characters, to be of a weak physical constitution (Jane calls her "slight and delicate") which may account for her subjugation by the much stronger-spirited Lydia. Like Mary, she improves at the end of the book, and in fact improves dramatically. She spends most of her time with either Jane or Elizabeth, and without Lydia there to reinforce her old habits, she becomes better educated and more refined. It's also noted that although Lydia keeps trying to invite her to come and visit, their father refuses to allow it.
  • Break the Haughty: Darcy, obviously. In one spectacular confrontation scene, Elizabeth does this to Lady Catherine as well. Although not overly haughty, Elizabeth's not immune; her own pride (specifically, in her ability to instantly judge someone based on first impressions - the prejudice of the novel's title) takes a denting over the course of the novel.
  • Brilliant but Lazy: Mr Bennet.
  • Captain Obvious: Many of Mary's lectures.
  • The Casanova: Wickham
  • Character Development: Elizabeth becomes a more reliable narrator, as mentioned below. Mary becomes less gloomy and more confident near the end. Kitty steadily grows less like Lydia and more respectable and caring like her role models Jane and Lizzy. Mr Bennet, who had always been "contented with laughing" at the antics of his younger daughters, smartens up and takes his responsibilities as parent much more seriously. Mr Darcy learns to express his Hidden Heart of Gold more outside of those closest to him while acknowledging that he can still be a bit of a pompous, arrogant tool and learning to be a bit more pleasant and polite to people.
  • Christmas Cake: The looming threat of Jane's future, and Charlotte Lucas.
  • Christianity Is Catholic: Averted. A family similarly situated to the Bennetts in Spain or Italy would have sent some of the daughters into a convent. (Mary would probably have done well as a nun; she'd play the organ in the chapel, teach the little girls in the school, and been very busy and happy.)note 
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Caroline Bingley.
  • Comic Book Adaptation: Got one courtesy of Marvel.
  • Composite Character: Bingley's two sisters are frequently melded into one sister in adaptations.
  • Control Freak: There is only one way to do absolutely anything, and that is Lady Catherine de Bourgh's way... in her mind, at least. This leads to tension when she eventually meets Elizabeth Bennet, who isn't particularly inclined to let Lady Catherine or anyone bully her about.
  • Cool Big Sis:
    • Jane, to Elizabeth in particular, since the younger three tend to tune them out a lot.
    • The ending indicates that Kitty eventually regards both Jane and Elizabeth in this light.
    • Elizabeth also becomes this to Georgiana Darcy.
  • Daddy's Girl: Inverted. At the end, it is clear that Mr. Bennet is deeply attached to his second eldest, Elizabeth.
  • Dances and Balls: It is set during the 18th century in England after all.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Elizabeth, who takes after her father in that regard ("For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?").
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Darcy is a male version. Elizabeth has some aspects of it as well.
  • Delusions of Eloquence : Mr Collins.
  • The Ditz: Lydia Bennet. Mrs Bennet is no great intellect either, for that matter, and neither is Mr Collins.
  • Double Standard: In Elizabeth's mind, Charlotte's agreeing to marry Mr Collins in exchange for a comfortable home and a modicum of respectability represents "a betrayal of every better feeling". Wickham's decision to court the heiress Mary King despite the fact that he'd been uninterested in her before she inherited money, on the other hand, is simply a matter of pragmatism, although this could be seen as a way for Elizabeth to deal with the news — she was interested in him initially, and might now want to be seen to be calm and not allow herself to be upset. The narrator does call Elizabeth out on this.
  • Dreadful Musician: Keep Mary away from your piano unless she's playing for people to dance. Please. (In the book, Mary is a technically accomplished but unemotional pianist. In movie versions, however, she is more often portrayed as just a bad musician. Her singing voice is best avoided in both.) By the way, this advice is easier said than done; Mary is one of the 'self-deluding' types.
  • Elopement: Wickham convinces Georgiana Darcy into one, his main motive being her fortune of thirty thousand pounds. The plan falls apart when a guilt-ridden Georgiana confesses it to her brother, who then writes to Wickham to tell him that his sister is off limits. Later, Wickham actually does elope with Lydia Bennet, who is saved from being Defiled Forever by marrying him.
  • English Rose: Elizabeth's sister Jane is kind, polite, well-mannered and beautiful English country gentry. Jane is considered the most beautiful young lady in the neighbourhood. Her character is contrasted with Elizabeth's as sweeter, shyer, and equally sensible, but not as clever; her most notable trait is a desire to see only the good in others.
  • Executive Meddling: The reason why the title was changed and why it took over a decade to publish was Austen's publisher.
  • Everyone Can See It:
    • Bingley and Jane, despite how discreet they both are. The fact that everyone is talking about it is what prompts Darcy to intervene.
    • Averted with Darcy and Elizabeth. The Gardiners' understandable conclusions aside, not even Jane believes Lizzy when she first tells her they are engaged, and takes some convincing that Lizzy does love Darcy in truth. This is partly because everyone except the Gardiners was around when Darcy and Elizabeth first met and did nothing but bicker, whereas when the Gardiners finally meet Darcy, Elizabeth's feelings have considerably warmed to him and Darcy is making a conscious effort to present himself in a more humble and agreeable fashion, thus enabling them to see what everyone else couldn't.
  • Expy: Wickham and Lady Catherine are strikingly similar to Willoughby and Mrs Ferrars of Sense and Sensibility, and Jane and Bingley's relationship bears similarities to that of Edward and Elinor; in fact, half the trouble in P&P is caused by Darcy's mistaking Jane's level of affection for Bingley.
  • Female Gaze: Darcy's introduction.
  • Feminine Women Can Cook: Mr Collins makes the mistake of thinking this applies to the Bennet daughters, but they're not that poor.
  • First Name Basis: Elizabeth and Charlotte, which signifies that the two are the best of friends and have been for many years.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Bennet family: Lydia and Mrs. Bennett (choleric), Mary (melancholic), Jane and Mr. Bennett (phlegmatic), Kitty (sanguine), and Elizabeth (leukine).
    • The men: Mr. Darcy (choleric), Mr. Wickham (melancholic), Mr. Bingley (sanguine), and Mr. Collins (phlegmatic).
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: The younger sisters, headed by Lydia, are the Foolish sisters, while Jane and Elizabeth are the Responsible sisters.
  • Foreshadowing: When Jane and Elizabeth return from London and Kent (respectively), Lydia asks them about their trips, then gives them no chance to reply before launching into a Wall of Text about her own recent activities. But her non-stop talk includes this prophetic gem:
    Lydia: I should like to be married before any of you.
  • Freudian Excuse: Averted in the case of Wickham. He had a rather nice childhood, and his father was a good man. Darcy notes the elder Mr Wickham was "always poor from the extravagance of his wife", so Wickham could have been a spoilt mummy's boy who never grew up.
  • Giftedly Bad: Mary's singing, and she also fancies herself as extremely clever and profound, when her "insights" are usually cases of either stating the obvious and/or obnoxious, unnecessary moralising that no one wants to hear.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Averted with Jane and Elizabeth; while Jane is the "pretty" one (although not unintelligent) and Elizabeth is the "clever" one (although not unattractive), they're incredibly close, the best of friends and barely have a cross word in the entire novel. Played straighter with Lydia (filling the "pretty" role as she's shallow and boy-crazy) and Mary ("smart", although not nearly as smart as she thinks she is); although they're never shown actually arguing in the book, it is noted that Lydia routinely ignores anything Mary says. The novel doesn't take sides, and points out that they're both as bad as each other.
  • Gold Digger:
    • Wickham hopes to secure his fortune by marrying a woman with money.
    • Mrs Bennet might not be one (it's never entirely clear), but she certainly encourages her daughters to follow the philosophy.
    • A more positively presented example is Colonel Fitzwilliam, who warns Elizabeth that as the younger son of an Earl, he's expected to marry money.
    • To a certain extent, this applies to almost every character in the book: they all (with the possible exception of Lydia) consider the wealth/social position of any potential partner. Elizabeth discusses this with her aunt at one point: what's the difference between gold-digging and simply being practical?
  • Good Is Not Nice: Mr Darcy is a kind man, but cool and distant to those he considers beneath him. This changes, obviously.
  • Good-Looking Privates: A good portion of the plot is driven by the fact that girls go crazy over a man in a red coat. After the arrival of the militia, Kitty and Lydia lose interest in anything other than military men.
  • Gossip Evolution: Shortly before the first ball Bingley attends in his new neighbourhood, he makes a brief visit to London. Someone guesses that he went there to collect friends to bring to the ball, and this rapidly turns into a rumour that he's going to bring twelve ladies and seven gentlemen. (He does bring some friends, but not nearly that many.)
    • Towards the end of the novel, the news of Jane and Bingley's engagement, by the time it reaches Lady Catherine via the Lucases and the Collinses, has gained the (untrue) additional detail that Lizzy is to marry Mr Darcy...
  • Grande Dame: Lady Catherine de Bourgh.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Caroline Bingley's venomous spite towards Elizabeth is based mainly on the fact that Elizabeth, unlike Caroline, managed to catch Darcy's eye.
  • Grounded Forever: After Lydia disgraces the family, Mr Bennet tells Kitty she's Grounded Forever. He doesn't really mean it, but she believes him. Kitty protests that if she were to be allowed to go to Brighton, she would behave better. Her father is not convinced:
    "You go to Brighton!I would not trust you so near it as East-Bourne, for fifty pounds! No, Kitty, I have at last learnt to be cautious, and you will feel the effects of it. No officer is ever to enter my house again, nor even to pass through the village. Balls will be absolutely prohibited, unless you stand up with one of your sisters. And you are never to stir out of doors till you can prove that you have spent ten minutes of every day in a rational manner."
    Kitty, who took all these threats in a serious light, began to cry.
    "Well, well," said he, "do not make yourself unhappy. If you are a good girl for the next ten years, I will take you to a review at the end of them."
  • Have a Gay Old Time: Some of the language and dialogue used makes for amusing reading when looked at through modern eyes. Possibly the funniest is Mr. Bennet's remarks about Wickham, when he and Lydia have left to join his northern regiment.
    Mr. Bennet: He's as fine a fellow as ever I saw. He simpers and smirks and makes love to us all.
    • The preferred card game of the novel is called "loo" (short for "lanterloo"). The Bingleys at one point invite Elizabeth to join them at said loo.
    • One of the more frequent complaints regarding Mrs. Bennet and her younger daughters is about their tendency to "expose themselves" at social gatherings - in context meaning that they're exposing their flaws and bad manners to the public eye, but the modern reader is likely to find themselves imagining something even more embarrassing.
  • Heir Club for Men: One of the major plot motivators is the Bennets' lack of a male heir. Their family estate is entailed, which means that it is bound legally to be inherited by the next male relative in the family line. The girls really must marry well because once their father dies their house goes to Mr Collins and, at best, they could stay for some time as his guests.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Mr Darcy and Mr Bingley.
  • Hidden Depths: There's a reason the original title was First Impressions.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: Of a sort. Darcy is eventually established to be much kinder, pleasant and well-liked to people who he knows well or who live near him — his family and friends, servants and the people of Lambton, near his estate of Pemberley, by and large won't hear a word spoken against him and often express surprise when Elizabeth suggests that he's not a particularly nice man. He attaches a lot of importance to appearances and proper conduct, however, and adopts a more formal, reserved manner with strangers, leading those strangers to often view him as being a pompous, humourless bore.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Implied. Darcy is described several times as tall and once as a "great, tall fellow" by Bingley, while Elizabeth is supposedly lithe from her walking and the younger Lydia and Georgiana are both taller than she is.
  • Hypocrite: Caroline Bingley and Mrs Hurst look down on the Bennets for having relations in trade and Sir William Lucas for being a merchant before he gained his knighthood, while they're actually Nouveau Riche and only one generation away from trade themselves.
  • Hypocritical Humor: The novel is packed with it:
    • Mrs Bennet is quite fond of rewriting history to retroactively change her opinions and make it look like she's always right, particularly when it comes to prospective/not-so-prospective sons-in-law.
    • Similarly Mr Collins, when he declares his love for her, says that as soon as he saw Elizabeth he knew she was the only one for him — despite her being his second choice, after hearing that Jane was "soon to be engaged".
    • Note also how Wickham insists that he takes no pleasure in "revealing" Darcy's true character and is reluctant to do so, but takes every opportunity he can to spread his sad (and untrue) story.
    • Lady Catherine is a self-proclaimed expert on music, fond of lecturing people as to their playing, despite having never learned an instrument herself.
    • Miss Bingley, who wants Darcy for herself, tears down Elizabeth every chance she gets; most notably, she claims that Elizabeth is one of those women who try to get men's approval by putting down other women.
  • I Do Not Speak Nonverbal: Kitty asks loudly why her mother keeps winking at her.
  • I Have This Friend: Colonel Fitzwilliam starts a conversation with Elizabeth about how younger sons can't responsibly propose to whomever they like because they don't have much to offer. Elizabeth takes it as this trope, since Fitzwilliam is a younger son who's been acting quite partial to her.
  • I Love You Because I Can't Control You: A big part of Darcy's attraction to Elizabeth is the fact that, unlike Caroline Bingley and others of her ilk, Elizabeth sees no need to try and impress him just because he's single and wealthy.
  • Ill Girl: Anne de Bourgh is "of a sickly constitution." Living with Lady Catherine would make anybody ill.
  • Info Drop: Mr Darcy's first name appears in the book all of twice. The first time is when Mrs Gardiner struggles to remember if she ever heard anything about him when she lived in Derbyshire; the second, when he signs his letter to Elizabeth.
  • Innocent Inaccurate: Elizabeth, being the protagonist, is the reader's primary window into the world of the story, and we have limited opportunities to form opinions of characters other than through her. Thus the reader has no choice but to share her good opinion of Wickham and her poor opinion of Darcy, until Darcy's letter reveals the truth to both her and the reader.
  • Inter-Class Romance: Lady Catherine throws a hissy fit over someone as (relatively) low-class as Elizabeth marrying Mr Darcy. Elizabeth wins this by exposing Lady Catherine not as a snob, but an idiot: "He is a gentleman; I am a gentleman's daughter. Thus far, we are equal". This is absolutely true: Mr Bennet is a landowner, an esquire, just like Darcy (he just owns less, or less profitable land); they are of exactly the same social class. That some modern readers fail to understand that 'class' in the 1790s was defined by where your money came from, not how much you made, is understandable; but for Lady Catherine to forget it (or at least expect Elizabeth not to realise it) makes her a complete ass as well as a bully.
    • The difference as Lady Catherine sees it is that while Elizabeth's father married beneath him (Mrs. Bennet's family were not gentlemen), Darcy's father married above him (Lady Anne was part of the aristocracy). Thus, while they may be of the same class in this generation, their relations are in vastly different classes.
  • In the Blood: While explaining what a good man Wickham Senior was in contrast to his son, Darcy briefly mentions that Wickham's mother was an irresponsible spender and of less than sterling moral character.
  • It Is Pronounced Tropay: Maria Lucas' first name is pronounced "Ma-ry-ah" — yes, like the pop star — because that's how the name was pronounced in the Regency era.note 
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Aside from his own feelings of responsibility for not speaking out against Mr Wickham, the main reason Mr Darcy goes to the trouble of making Wickham marry Lydia Bennet — which requires him to pay off Wickham's debts and buy a military commission for him even though he justifiably can't stand the man and previously refused to support him any further — is to make Elizabeth happy.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Mrs Bennet; apparently, in her youth, it was one of the main things going for her. And unfortunately for Mr Bennet, he married her for shallow reasons such as that.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Mrs Bennet is right to be concerned about the girls marrying well, as their estate is going to Mr Collins, and if they don't marry, they really will be on the street. It's the way she goes about it that's the problem.
    • While it was pretty nasty of Darcy to separate Bingley and Jane, he has a valid point - which Lizzie begrudgingly agrees with - that the Bennet mother and younger sisters often behave completely inappropriately in public, and Mr Bennet does little or nothing to rein them in. What respectable Regency bachelor (who's only one generation away from trade himself in Bingley's case, and comes from an important and well established family in Darcy's) would want such embarrassing in-laws?
      • She is also forced to concede that Jane's shyness and reserve can be easily mistaken for aloofness, and that those who don't know her well (such as Darcy) might find it easy to convince themselves that she doesn't have genuine feelings for Bingley.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Darcy, initially. Lampshaded by Elizabeth, who complains, in comparing Darcy and Wickham, that one has all the goodness while the other has all the appearance of it. May be the Ur Example in the romance genre.
    • Mary and Kitty, to some extent. Mary as more "heart of gold" and Kitty as more "jerk" (until Lydia runs off with Wickham, leaving Kitty to better influences).
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Wickham — Austen's Happily Ever After endings always seem to be tempered by at least one of these, if you consider being married to Lydia and being all but exiled to northern England as getting away scot-free...
    • Lydia also counts as one of these. She gets away with a lot of bad behaviour, including her elopement with Wickham, scot-free, and doesn't even realise that she's done anything wrong at all. There is, however, a slight subversion at the end, as actually being Lydia, and living with Wickham, with nothing in her head but a list of fashion items, is probably a punishment in itself. The fact that she is exiled far away enough that Jane and Elizabeth don't have to see much of her is such a victory for them that the fact that she doesn't get her comeuppance matters surprisingly little. It could be that Lydia is a lot like Peg Bundy and the Bundy Curse; she's actually part of Wickham's punishment, therefore it's not all that important if she herself gets punished.
  • Kissing Cousins:
    • Lady Catherine's plans for Mr Darcy and her daughter.
    • Mr Collins' plan to make a charitable gesture to the Bennets involves his marrying one of the Bennet sisters, though the exact relationship between them is unclear; the term "cousin", in the 18th century and earlier, was liberally applied to all manner of relatives, so the only thing certain is that he is a male-line relative of Mr Bennet. (Considering the nature of the entail, which means that after Mr Bennet's death he will inherit their home and pretty nearly everything they own, this actually is a fairly generous gesture. Unfortunately, he makes it an intolerable one by being, as described elsewhere on this page, an insufferable plank.)
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Mary.
  • Last Name Basis: Darcy's Christian name is mentioned twice in the book, and it's Fitzwilliam. (On an educational note, Fitzwilliam is his mother's maiden name. At the time, it was very common for eldest sons to be given their mother's maiden name as a first name, especially if their mother was a woman of some prominence — which Lady Anne was.)
    • Even his aunt calls him "Darcy". Though this may be a matter of practicality; she has two nephews, and one has Fitzwilliam for a first name, and the other has Fitzwilliam for a last name.
    • We also never learn the first names of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, Mr. Hurst, or Mrs. Gardiner (though from her letter to Elizabeth we know her first initial is M).
  • Leave the Two Lovebirds Alone:
    • Mrs Bennet very unsubtly arranges for Jane and Mr Bingley to have plenty of time alone together.
    • Earlier in the book, she does the same thing to allow Mr Collins to propose to Elizabeth, to Lizzy's dismay.
    • Mr Bingley does the same for Elizabeth and Darcy, only a little more subtly, near the end of the novel.
  • Licensed Game: It's the primary one of the three Austen novels that gets mashed up in the PC game Matches And Matrimony.
  • Literary Allusion Title: From the novel Cecilia by Frances Burney.
  • Literary Necrophilia:
    • There are countless sequels by various authors. Apparently a lot of readers didn't like never seeing Lizzy and Darcy consummate their relationship (though seeing as they got married, it's implied that they did). Hence, many of these sequels revolve around Lizzy and Darcy as newlyweds and all that implies.
    • There are also several variations of the original novel told from Mr Darcy's point of view.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Mary Bennet. Note that the ending implies that her preference for books is her way of coping with the lack of other social options; when she has to be her mother's companion and socialise more, her father suspects she's not that unhappy about it.
  • Love Dodecahedron: Charlotte marries Mr Collins, who proposed to Elizabeth, who is also being pursued by Darcy and Wickham, who also goes after Mary King and then Lydia, and Caroline is after Darcy, whom Lady Catherine ships with her daughter. At the same time, Mr Collins briefly pursues Jane until he learns she's going to marry Mr Bingley, so he then proposes to Elizabeth but finally ends up with Charlotte Lucas, whom Lady Lucas wanted to marry Mr Bingley...
  • Love Epiphany: After struggling with her feelings for several months, Elizabeth has a very uncomfortable epiphany after Lydia running off with Mr Wickham leaves her convinced that Mr Darcy could not possibly ever want to marry her now:
    "It was [...] exactly calculated to make her understand her own wishes; and never had she so honestly felt that she could have loved him, as now, when all love must be vain."
  • Love You and Everybody: The reason that Darcy comes to the (erroneous) conclusion that Jane is not particularly attached to Bingley is because she treats him with the same sweet, friendly openness that she shows to everyone.
  • Malicious Slander: Wickham accuses Darcy of denying him a valuable living out of petty spite; this is Serious Business for the times.
  • Marry for Love: Jane and Elizabeth both express a longing to do this.
    • Subverted by most of the others characters, who marry for financial security, social status, or lust.
  • The Matchmaker: Mrs Bennet tries to be this.
  • Meaningful Look: Mr Darcy frequently stares at Elizabeth. What could that mean? Elizabeth thinks he finds something improper about her. Charlotte thinks he might like her, or that he's absent-minded. Nah, these are Longing Looks of true love.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Darcy ('dark').
    • Wickham the wicked one.
  • Middle Child Syndrome: Poor Mary and Kitty. Especially Mary, the true middle child, who is overshadowed by her much prettier sisters. Must be hard to be the only one plain.
  • The Musical: First Impressions, a 1959 Broadway flop starring Farley Granger as Darcy.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: After Elizabeth's firm (and repeated) rejection of his proposals, Mr Collins wishes all of his cousins well, "not excepting my cousin Elizabeth". It's the first of many Take Thats he aims in her direction thereafter. Of course, because he's such an insufferable plank (and not least because of the whole repeated rejection thing), Lizzy has little difficulty shrugging them off.
  • Nice Guy:
    • Mr Bingley.
    • Jane Bennet is a female example.
    • Colonel Fitzwilliam is nothing but friendly and cool.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: If it weren't for Lady Catherine's concerted effort to prevent Mr Darcy and Elizabeth from marrying, each of them might have gone on indefinitely convinced that there was no chance of the other returning their feelings.
  • Nice to the Waiter: One of the solid clues we get that Darcy is actually a decent man is that, when asked about him, his servants sing his praises. It seems while he has no qualms about being rude to those he considers a cut beneath him, noblesse oblige requires him to be courteous and considerate to those who are very much his social inferiors and dependent on him. He also appears to be well-liked by his tenants and the nearby working folk of Lambton, the village near Pemberley, further suggesting that Darcy's more snobbish tendencies are exacerbated when he's in unfamiliar company.
  • No Accounting for Taste: Mr and Mrs Bennet; Mr Collins and Charlotte (although Charlotte's choice is clearly shown as "I'm 27, I don't have any money, and I'm not beautiful, so I have to take who I can get").
  • No Hugging, No Kissing: Though they sure are "making love" a lot, the meaning was slightly different back then...
  • Not So Different: Elizabeth and Mr Darcy have one thing in common — they can both be exceedingly stubborn.
    • In one scene, Lydia makes a rather nasty remark about Mary King and how no one could possible care about such a plain, ugly girl. Elizabeth realizes that while she would never say such a thing, she had had pretty much the same thought. It's an uncomfortable moment for Elizabeth when she realizes that she and Lydia aren't as different as Elizabeth likes to think they are.
  • No Woman's Land: The Bennet girls cannot inherent their father's property, as it is entailed to the male line, and it is made very clear that if the Bennet girls do not marry well then their futures will be fairly dim. We tend to romanticise the era, but make no mistake, it sucked being a woman during the Regency period. As noted above, part of Mr Collins' "generous" plan regarding the Bennets is that, as the father's closest remaining male relative, he will be the one to inherit their family property eventually, and marrying one of the Bennet daughters would allow the money to keep supporting the family. So in truth, it really is a fairly generous plan; unfortunately, he's so obnoxious that the prospect is unbearable for his chosen object.
    • It is generous, but he probably thought any of the five sisters would be grateful for his offer and say yes, so at the same time he had selfish motives.
  • Oblivious to Love: Elizabeth initially has no idea that Darcy is interested in her (although to be fair, he's not exactly that good at expressing it) and she continually mistakes his interest in her as disapproval.
  • Odd Friendship: Darcy and Bingley.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted like nobody's business.
    • William Collins, Sir William Lucas
    • Charles Bingley, Charlotte Lucas.
    • George Wickham, Georgiana Darcy
    • Catherine De Bourgh, Catherine Bennet
    • Fitzwilliam Darcy, Colonel Fitzwilliam
    • Mary Bennet, Maria Lucas, Mary King
  • Only Sane Man: Compared to their sisters, mother, father (to a lesser extent) and many of the other characters in the novel, both Elizabeth and Jane came across as calm, sensible and thoroughly down-to-earth young women with their heads firmly screwed on their shoulders. This does not, mean, however, that they're without their own respective issues; Elizabeth is inclined to be a bit blinded by her own cynical certainty that expecting the worst of people is the best way to approach things, while Jane is shy, good-natured and retiring almost to a fault.
  • Opposites Attract: Darcy and Bingley again.
  • Parental Favoritism: Lizzy is her father's favourite; Lydia is her mother's. This provides quite an insight into their respective characters. Of the other three sisters: Jane is universally liked, Mary is universally ignored and Kitty is universally hushed.
    • The Unfavorite: Likewise, Lizzy is the "least dear to [Mrs Bennet] of all her children", and while Mr Bennet is derogatory of his younger daughters in general, he's most so with Lydia.
  • Parents as People
    • Mrs Bennet is unambiguously a shallow airhead who loads her daughters down with bad advice, but when Lizzy tries to call her out on her single-minded matchmaking, she delivers a riposte that reveals her very real fear that she and her daughters will be utterly destitute if they do not marry well.
    • Mr Bennet copes with his ill-matched marriage by finding refuge in his books and sarcasm. He is indifferent to the fact that this exposes his wife to the ridicule of their children, and their family to the ridicule of the world. By the end of the novel, though, he accepts responsibility for his daughter's mistakes and furthermore, takes measures to instil some sense in his two unmarried daughters.
  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Expected in polite society. Parodied here
  • Plain Jane: Mary is the plain sister in the Bennett family. Lizzie's friend Charlotte also describes herself as such. It's Played for Drama in her case as Lizzie is disgusted at her accepting Collins's marriage proposal just to secure her own comfort. The trope isn't played literally as the one character called Jane is actually the prettiest sister.
  • Platonic Life Partners: Elizabeth and Colonel Fitzwilliam develop this relationship. They have great friendly chemistry during their time in Kent (which most likely continues after Elizabeth's marriage to Darcy), and possibly some mutual attraction as well; but Colonel Fitzwilliam makes it clear (in a subtle fashion) that, as a younger son of a nobleman, he cannot marry whom he chooses, and so they remain friends.
  • Playing Sick: Mrs Bennet and her "poor nerves". Kitty is also not of robust health, and one has to wonder whether any of it is an affectation in order to gain attention that she otherwise wouldn't receive.
  • Poor Communication Kills: What would a romantic comedy be without it?
  • Pre-Approved Sermon: Lady Catherine to Mr Collins.
  • Professional Butt-Kisser: Mr Collins is so devoted to sucking up to Lady Catherine that he shamelessly grovels over her when she's not even present.
  • The Promise: Elizabeth refuses one to Lady Catherine.
  • Promotion to Parent: Mr Darcy and his cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam for Darcy's little sister Georgiana.
  • Proper Lady : Jane Bennet
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Lizzy's reaction to Darcy's Anguished Declaration of Love.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Lydia sees absolutely no reason why anyone should be upset after she ran away from Brighton with Wickham, and was living with him, unmarried, in London for weeks (which was something almost unthinkable in Jane Austen's time). Yet she not only sees no problem with it, she boasts about it, thinks she's done something praiseworthy, demands such praise from her sisters, and can't understand why her elder sisters and father are a little cold to her. It gets so bad that Elizabeth actually has to leave the room when Lydia's talking at one point because she's physically sickened by her.
  • Rejection Affection: Played straight but then quickly averted. While Mr Collins initially takes Elizabeth's first rejection as encouragement to continue courting her, he soon finds out that she is serious. But his initial interpretation of her rejection as a positive step in their relationship reflects on his views of women in their culture.
  • Rich Bitch: Bingley's sisters are constantly snide, condescending and haughty, Caroline especially. It's implied that they're a bit Nouveau Riche and are making up for their recent good fortune with excessive snobbery.
  • Romance on the Set: Although people only learned about the romance after it had ended, Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle became romantically involved during the 1995 production.
  • Self-Made Man: Mr Gardiner.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness:
    • Mr Collins
    • Bingley accuses Darcy of it, saying "he studies far too much for words of four syllables" when writing his letters. It seems likely from the context that he's just teasing Darcy, though.
  • Settle for Sibling: Attempted by Mr. Collins, but Elizabeth firmly refuses to have any of it.
  • Shotgun Wedding: Lydia and Wickham.
  • Shipper on Deck:
    • Caroline Bingley tries to ship her brother with Georgiana Darcy, mostly in order to help her own pursuit of Mr Darcy.
    • Meanwhile, Charlotte ships Elizabeth/Darcy almost from the beginning.
    • Lady Catherine makes a comically unsuccessful attempt to ship her daughter with Darcy.
    • Mrs Gardiner certainly seems to ship Lizzy/Darcy as well, with quite a lot of good-humoured hints.
    • Pretty much everyone in Mereton ships Jane/Bingley.
  • Shipping Torpedo: Plenty of this as well
    • Miss Bingley and Mr Darcy actively break up Jane Bennet and Mr Bingley. She's a snob who ships him with Miss Darcy. Mr Darcy thinks Miss Bennet doesn't love him.
    • Mr Darcy doesn't like that George Wickham flirts with Elizabeth. He's jealous and he knows that Wickham is not an honest man.
    • Mrs Gardiner, Elizabeth's aunt, advises against Elizabeth's possible relationship with Wickham because neither of them has independent fortune.
    • Darcy reveals that he found out that his sister nearly eloped with a man but luckily he stopped them.
    • Lady Catherine is furious when she hears rumours that her nephew Mr Darcy is love with Elizabeth Bennet and does her best to break them up. Ironically, her efforts are what bring them together.
  • Shrinking Violet: Georgiana Darcy. Mary Bennett too, preferring books to balls. Jane is this in a way too. She's friendly and outgoing but also very shy - to the degree that Mr Darcy suspects her of being a Gold Digger.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Jane and Elizabeth Bennet; proud Mr Darcy and timid Georgiana; bookish Mary and irreverent Lydia.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: The moving force of the story.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Mocked via Lizzy in response to Mr Collins. So Miss Austen, at least, thought this trope was already being overused more than 200 years ago.
  • Slut Shaming: Lydia's fling almost ruins her entire family. Justified both in the sense of the social conventions of the time, and her being simply a terrible person all around and absolutely deserving of the scorn she attracts.
  • Smug Snake: Whilst not exactly a villain, Mr Collins is this in almost every other respect. Lady Catherine de Bourgh (especially in the film adaptations) would probably be a more direct match.
  • The Snark Knight: Lizzy; also the narrator, on occasion.
  • Spell My Name with a Blank: Wickham joins the ___shire Regiment, and Colonel Fitzwilliam is the younger son of Earl ____.
  • Spirited Young Lady: Lizzy again. She's probably the Trope Codifier.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Darcy, temporarily.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Lydia in the book — at least, she considers herself to be this. Early in the book, on the prospect of whether or not Bingley will dance with her, Lydia remarks, "Oh, I am not afraid, for though I am the youngest, I'm the tallest!".
  • Stupid Good: From Elizabeth's perspective, Jane Bennet. She would totally defend any poor defenseless hellspawn (read: Caroline Bingley). The trope doesn't mean the character is literally stupid, however. Even Jane realizes what bad eggs Bingley's sisters are when they deign to visit her in London. However, Jane sees it differently. She maintains that up until she saw Caroline in London, she had just as much reason to think that Caroline's friendship was genuine as Elizabeth did to think it wasn't.
  • Sugary Malice: Bingley's sisters pretty much live and breathe this trope, but nearly everyone is guilty of it at least once or twice. The only exceptions are Jane and Georgiana (and Anne de Bourgh, mostly because she never speaks).
  • Surrounded by Idiots: On occasions when both Elizabeth and Jane are absent from Longbourn, Mr Bennet feels this way while stuck at home with his wife and three youngest daughters — so much so that when Elizabeth leaves to visit the Collinses, he tells her to write often and "almost promises" to answer. (Since he abhors writing letters, this is a big deal.) As he puts it in the 1995 BBC version:
    Mr. Bennet: You'll be very much missed, my dear. Until either you or your sister Jane return, I shan't hear two words of sense spoken together.
  • Take That: Many hilarious jabs that Mr Darcy takes against Caroline whenever she feels like belittling Elizabeth. The best are when Caroline accuses Elizabeth of deliberately walking to Netherfield in order to make a scene and asks Darcy if he would want his sister to make such an exibition, to which Darcy replies "Certainly not."; and when she hints that perhaps the walk has lessened Darcy's estimation of Elizabeth's "fine eyes", he casually replies, "Not at all, they were brightened by the exercise." Also parodied here.
  • Tall, Dark and Snarky: Mr Darcy, by dint of being tall, dark and snarky.
  • Technician Versus Performer: Mary and Lizzy, when it comes to playing the piano.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: Lydia and Wickham at the end for the Bingleys.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Elizabeth and Jane, respectively.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Darcy is repeatedly referred to as more handsome than he is charming.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: A blink-and-you'll-miss-it example In-Universe. During Elizabeth's tour of Pemberley, she gives up on admiring the professional pieces of art in favour of Georgiana's childhood scribbles, "whose subjects were usually more interesting, and also more intelligible". Austen - The Snark Knight - strikes again.
  • Unable To Support A Wife:
    • Wickham with Elizabeth. When he starts paying attentions to a heiress, her aunt objects, and Elizabeth points out that it's unreasonable to criticise him both for wooing a poor woman he can't marry and for wooing a rich woman he can.
    • Inverted in the famous first line: obviously this inability is the only conceivable reason for a man not to marry.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Played With: part of Elizabeth's Character Development involves realizing that she is one. Thus Austen encourages Lizzy's biases in the first half of the novel by simply glossing over any contrary evidence, and the turning point occurs when Lizzy is forced to confront the other side of the situation. To be fair to her, though, even Darcy admits in his letter that "detection could not be in [her] power".
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Especially in the second half of the book.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Mrs Bennet, although she isn't quite as upper-class as she'd like.
  • The Vamp: Wickham is a male version of this trope.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Wickham, whose easy manners and charm (combined with Darcy's reticence) allow him to paint himself as the wronged party in his relationship with Darcy.
  • Wall Glower: Darcy makes a bad first impression on everybody by refusing to dance.
  • Weddings for Everyone
  • Well, Excuse Me, Princess!: Elizabeth.
  • Wham Line: "In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you." Elizabeth certainly doesn't see it coming.
  • What Beautiful Eyes: Mr Darcy admires Elizabeth's "fine eyes".
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: A character version, since the novel doesn't describe Mary or Kitty's long-term futures; it says only that Kitty spends most of her time with Elizabeth and Jane, and Mary is therefore called on to keep their mother company most of the time. Poor Mary. In letters to her nieces and nephews, Austen said that Mary eventually married a clerk in Meryton and was considered a star of the town, and Kitty married a gentleman she met while visiting Pemberley. This sounds like bad luck for Mary, but if the clerk thinks she's wonderful and gives her the affection and attention she craves, she'll be happy.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The last chapter of the book describes what became of all the characters after Mr Darcy and Elizabeth's marriage.
    • Mrs Bennet remains silly, but luckily Mr Bennet still finds her amusing. However, he misses Elizabeth so much that he actually travels to Pemberley — often without warning her, because he loves to surprise her with his arrival.
    • Kitty and Mary both improve in character: the former because she is influenced less by Lydia and more by Jane and Elizabeth, the latter because she no longer gets compared with her more beautiful sisters.
    • Mr Bingley and Jane purchase an estate only thirty miles away from the Darcys' home, much to Jane and Elizabeth's joy.
    • The affections Lydia and Wickham had for each other quickly cools off, and they lived by leeching off the Darcys and the Bingleys.
    • Georgiana and Elizabeth develop a great relationship as Mr Darcy had hoped.
    • Lady Catherine eventually relents, and Elizabeth manages to reconcile her and Mr Darcy enough for Lady Catherine to visit Pemberley from time to time.
    • The Gardiners frequently visit Pemberley, and Darcy loves them just as much as Elizabeth does.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Jane.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Elizabeth and Darcy, and Jane and Bingley. (They do, of course.)
  • Writing Around Trademarks: By the time Miss Austen's publisher decided to publish First Impressions, two novels were already on the shelves with that title.
  • Wrong Guy First: Wickham is so not the fella for you, Lizzy.
  • You Keep Telling Yourself That: Jane insists to Elizabeth that she's not in love with Bingley anymore, she just thinks he's the kindest, handsomest man she's ever met, and always will regard him as "the most amiable man of [her] acquaintance" but they can totally just be friends now that she knows he's not in love with her. Lizzy laughs in her face.

PersuasionRomance NovelThe Princess Diaries
Sense and SensibilityCreator/Jane AustenMansfield Park
The Portrait Of A Lady 19 th Century LiteratureThe Prince and the Pauper
    Creator/Arrowstorm EntertainmentOrc Wars
Pretty WomanRomantic ComedyThe Prince And Me
PersuasionPublic Domain StoriesReynard The Fox

alternative title(s): Pride And Prejudice; Pride And Prejudice
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