How do the themes develop in 'Pride and Prejudice'?
Jane Austen explores ideas on some of the topics that were significant in her life and times.
In her social circle, the dilemmas they experienced tended to revolve around gaining or maintaining financial security. Women of her class did not have careers; they married and raised children. They learned skills that would occupy their time and make them appear attractive and interesting in the marriage market.
This can be seen in the novel when characters discuss the 'accomplishments' of young ladies, and also in the accounts of their daily lives. In this way, the novel shows realism, which made it relatable to the readers of the times. Marriage was central to society and, therefore, it is reasonable to see that an exploration of marriage, could be an important theme in her work.
The working title for the novel was originally called 'First Impressions'. This clearly indicates that the main story will begin on one footing and change as the plot progresses and impressions are revised. When Austen decided to publish under the title 'Pride and Prejudice', she highlighted two themes that would be explored.
These are observed in the way her characters show examples of pride and prejudice in their behaviour, and of course, how they behave helps to drive the plot; so we can see that these themes are tightly interwoven with character development and plot too.
You should always refer to your own copy of the book when working through the activities. The quotations are for reference only.