Pride and Prejudice Symbols Introduction
Pride and Prejudice takes place in England most likely during the Napoleonic wars. Elizabeth and the rest of the Bennet family reside in Longbourn nearby the manor known as Netherfield Park. As news spreads through Longbourn that a wealthy suitor, Mr. Charles Bingley, has taken up residence at Netherfield, a stir goes through the village as families hope that Mr. Bingley will take an interest in one of their daughters.
There are two major motifs worth noting in relation to the major symbols and those are courtship and journeys. The two major courtships of the novel are those of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth and Jane and Mr. Bingley. There are other courtships throughout the novel but they tend to threaten the development of true love rather than to add to it. The other major motif is journeys because repeatedly throughout the story, Elizabeth has to travel and each time she takes a journey it serves as an opportunity for change and growth.
Symbolism in Pride and Prejudice
Here’s a list of the major symbols in Pride and Prejudice.
- Outdoor Settings
Dancing – This is a symbol that comes into the story early on. In the beginning of the novel, while Jane is at her most prejudiced and Mr. Darcy at his most prideful, Jane and Mr. Darcy dance together in a stylistically formal and precise manner that mirrors their relationship at that point.
Neither character likes the other very much but there does seem to be some level of attraction between them. Their encounters are awkward and overly formal at this point.
Later in the story, Elizabeth dances with Mr. Collins and finds the dance to be embarrassing and clumsy which reflects how she sees Mr. Collins as a person.
Outdoor Settings – The interactions that Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy have with each other tend to change depending on whether they are indoors or outdoors.
Much of their most strained interactions take place while they are confined in a building. They generally tend to behave much more rigidly, keeping a careful distance from each other. However, when they interact outdoors (they take a few meaningful walks together at different points of the novel), their rigid behavior relaxes as they find themselves less beholden by expectations. They loosen up and are able to have more emotionally free conversations alone in the outdoors.
Pemberley – This is Mr. Darcy’s estate, which Elizabeth visits at a point in the novel during which she is starting to soften, thanks to traveling and being away from the pressures of her mother and her hometown’s social expectations. The reader starts to get the sense at this point in the novel—about halfway—that Elizabeth feels freer and more relaxed while she is traveling. Pemberley serves as a symbol for the person Mr. Darcy really is, underneath his pride and social status. Elizabeth is enchanted by the beauty of the property and subsequently starts to see Mr. Darcy in a new light and allows herself to feel charmed by him as well. To enhance this symbol, Austen has Elizabeth cross a small bridge as she approaches his home. This suggests that the divide that has so far existed between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth will be bridged as well as the two become closer to each other. As Elizabeth starts to see Mr. Darcy for who he really is, he starts to see Elizabeth for who she is when she is free of social pressures and expectations.