Elisabeth and D'Arcy. Illustration by C.E. Brock for an 1895 edition of Pride and Prejudice.

Probably the most famous of Jane Austen's novels, Pride and Prejudice is about relationships in the upper classes of England in the early 1800s. Austen brings a dry sense of humor to the story, making it an early comedy of manners.

The terms in the title refer to attitudes influencing the primary character's actions.

Prejudice does not refer to racial discrimination. It refers to bias without good basis.

In a society where a woman's rank in society was almost solely based on her father or husband's rank, the acquisition of a husband (of the best possible status) was a primary goal for a young woman. And in the case of the Bennet family with five daughters and an entailed estate, it is the most important desire of Mrs. Bennet to see her daughters well married.

(An entailed estate cannot be willed as the owner desires; the inheritance must follow a determined path. In the case of Mr. Bennet's death, the principle he inherited must pass to the nearest male relative upon his death. As a result, his family will depend on the money of the husbands of the five daughters.)

IT is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.
-- the opening line of the book

Main characters

  • Mr. Bennet
  • Mrs. Bennet
  • Miss Jane Bennet
  • Miss Elizabeth Bennet
  • Miss Mary Bennet
  • Miss Kitty Bennet
  • Miss Lydia Bennet
  • Mr. Collins (their cousin, on whom the estate is entailed)
  • Mrs. Philips (Mrs. Bennet's sister)
  • Mr. Gardiner (Mrs. Bennet's brother)
  • Mrs. Gardiner
  • Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy
  • Miss Georgiana Darcy
  • Colonel Fitzwilliam
  • Mr. Charles Bingley
  • Miss Caroline Bingley
  • Mrs. Hurst (Mr. Bingley's other sister)
  • Mr. Hurst
  • Mr. George Wickham
  • Sir William Lucas (a neighbor)
  • Lady Lucas
  • Charlotte Lucas (Elizabeth's closest friend)
  • Maria Lucas
  • Mrs. Long
  • Colonel Forster
  • Mrs. Forster
  • Lady Catherine de Bourgh
  • Miss Anne de Bourgh

Pride and Prejudice has inspired many sequels and alternative versions. One of the oddest may be the parody, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. At least 40 different authors have written books that are related -- sequels, adaptions, the story from a different character's perspective.[1]



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