What Does Pride and Prejudice Mean?
Pride and Prejudice

Meaning of prejudice

Pride and Prejudice are two different words with different meanings. These words are title of one of the novels of Jane Austen. Both of these words are noun and sometime used as adjective.

In context of the novel, Pride and Prejudice, These two words are used for two different characters of the novel: hero and heroine of the novel. The word pride is used for Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and the word Prejudice is used for Miss Elizabeth Bennet. These two title words are very important to the central theme of the novel as well.

Let us understand general meaning and use of these two words in different eras.

Definitions and Meanings of Pride and Prejudice

The meaning of any word cannot be explained clearly without any context. A word may give different meaning in different sentence. Moreover, with the passage of time, words modify their meanings and shift their characteristics. If a word was used few decades ago for a specific term after some time it may reflect different meaning then that of past. In same way, these words had different meaning unlike meanings we interpret now a day. First we will see its meaning in two major dictionaries and then we will discuss its meaning interpreted by the authoress Jane Austen in the novel

Pride

Meaning of Pride in Oxford Learners Dictionary:

Below are the meanings of pride by Oxford Learners Dictionary.

“A feeling of being pleased or satisfied that you get when you or people who are connected with you have done something well or own something that other people admire” Or “The pride of something a person or thing that makes people feels pleased or satisfied”

Meaning of Pride in Merriam Webster Dictionary:

Here is definition of pride from Merriam Webster Dictionary.

The quality or state of being proud: such as

1: inordinate self-esteem : conceit

2: a reasonable or justifiable self-respect

3: delight or elation arising from some act, possession, or relationship”

Meaning of Pride by Jane Austin: Darcy’s Pride

The meanings of pride and prejudice were slightly different when Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice. Pride was used in a negative sense usually unlike a positive trait in current era. While, today people tend to feel pride or speak of being proud of hard work or some sort of accomplishment. In Austen’s time, being proud generally meant someone thought he was better than rest of the people and same was considered as a bad trait. At that time, someone being proud was not open to interacting with different kinds of people as Darcy did. When Darcy was at local ball, he was standing aloof because no one was present who match his class that’s why Elizabeth judge him full of pride. Even his comments reveal his pride which he makes when Mr. Bingley ask him to dance.

On the other hand, his pride was understandable because the way he was brought up, anyone can expect such behavior from him. His pride was because of his wealth and social status. He is used to being treated as a social superior because of his social rank of his family, and social codes of behavior at that time ensure that such people should be treated with respect by those who have lower social status.

However, Darcy’s pride is noticeable when he participates at local ball. His remarks towards Elizabeth and others make it clear that he sees himself as superior to the others at ball. When Mr. Bingley ask him to dance with any of the girls, he says, “There is not another woman in the room, whom it would not be a punishment for me to stand up [dance] with.” Remarks like this indicate that he does not find the girl at the ball attractive or sophisticated enough to meet his high standards.

Prejudice

Meaning of Prejudice in Oxford Learners Dictionary:

Below are the meanings of prejudice by Oxford Learners Dictionary.

“An unreasonable dislike of or preference for a person, group, custom, etc., especially when it is based on their race, religion, sex, etc.”

Meaning of Prejudice in Merriam Webster Dictionary:

Below are the meanings of prejudice by in Merriam Webster Dictionary

“Injury or damage resulting from some judgment or action of another in disregard of one’s rights, or an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge”

Meaning of Prejudice by Jane Austin: Elizabeth’s Prejudice

Like pride, prejudice has different meaning in Austin’s novel. It tended to mean having a set idea about someone that was based on assumptions or preconceptions, rather than a person’s actual actions and characters. Today, prejudice in Austen’s view may mean making quick judgments about others based on their color, race, nationality, customs, or religion. However, in Austen’s view prejudice is hasty judgments on particular action of an individual or reputation, gossip, or some other misunderstood actions.

Darcy’s display of pride, at opening of the novel, causes prejudiced against him by Bennet families and others. He acts badly by refusing to dance with others and shows himself an unfriendly character. What other people do wrong is that they reveal his character by single interaction that is not enough to truly reveal him.

Like other characters, Elizabeth also prejudices against him bit Elizabeth prejudice is stronger because of overhearing Darcy remarks when he rejects o dance with Elizabeth and says; “She is handsome but not pretty enough to tempt me”. Comments and false feeding of Mr. Wickham makes Elizabeth more prejudiced against Darcy. Therefore, Elizabeth rejects his first proposal and uses words like, arrogant, conceit, disdain for him that shows that how Elizabeth looks at him.