Below you will find five outstanding thesis statements for “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen that can be used as essay starters or paper topics. All five incorporate at least one of the themes found in Jane Austen's novel “Pride and Prejudice” and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements for “Pride and Prejudice” offer a short summary of different elements that could be important in an essay but you are free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot or themes to them. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes from “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen at the bottom of the page, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent paper.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1: Elizabeth’s Pride and Darcy’s Prejudice
The pride and the prejudice referred to in the title of this Jane Austen novel prepare the reader for the character flaws of the main characters, Elizabeth and Darcy. Elizabeth’s pride and Darcy’s prejudice prevent the two from recognizing and admitting their love for one another. Write an explanatory or expository essay on “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen in which you detail how these character flaws are managed so that the characters can overcome the judgments and opinions that they have formed about each other and ultimately experience love together. You may wish to also reflect upon the social and historical factors which made these character flaws so common, identifying, for example, the role that social status played in relationships at that time.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #2: Contesting Social Propriety: The Women of Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice takes place in a society and in a historical moment that defined women’s roles and abilities narrowly. A woman was expected to be and behave a certain way, and deviations from the social norm were rebuked, often severely. Examine the various female characters and the small and large ways in which they challenge these strict social roles that have been assigned to them. You may wish to consider one character and go in depth, or to consider a wide range of characters and multiple transgressions. Be sure to include the consequences of these transgressions. Make a case for what you believe Austen’s motive to have been in presenting these episodes to her reader.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3: The Function of Journeys and the Contrast Between Indoors and Outdoors
The settings of the events that take place in Pride and Prejudice establish tone, mood, and an orientation to the social class and conditions of the characters. The settings also serve important symbolic functions, however. Consider the ways in which indoor and outdoor settings are contrasted in this novel and identify the function that each type of setting plays and meaning it represents. Be sure to explain how the various journeys between these spaces signify certain developments in the novel. In particular, be sure to discuss how journeys represent and precipitate transitions in the characters’ relationships.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #4: Jane Austen’s Satiric Treatment of the Wealthy
Social class is an important marker of the characters’ conditions and the quality of their relationships in Pride and Prejudice. Austen seems to reserve her satiric wit for an especially critical treatment of wealthier characters. Choose one or more of these characters and compare/contrast how Austen treats them versus how she treats the characters from other social strata. Explain whether the outcomes of the novel support an overall statement with respect to Austen’s opinion about the wealthy.
Thesis Statement/Essay Topic #5: The Rejected Title
Before the novel was published as Pride and Prejudice, Austen’s working title for this text was First Impressions. Consider which title is more evocative and effective in supporting the thematic development of the novel. Once you have chosen the title you prefer, write an argumentative essay in which you defend your choice. Explain why the title you have chosen is most effective.
This list of important quotations from “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen will help you work with the essay topics and thesis statements above by allowing you to support your claims. All of the important quotes from Jane Austen's novel listed here correspond, at least in some way, to the paper topics above and by themselves can give you great ideas for an essay by offering quotes and explanations about other themes, symbols, imagery, and motifs than those already mentioned and explained. Aside from the thesis statements above, these quotes from “Pride and Prejudice” alone can act as essay questions or study questions as they are all relevant to the text in an important way. All quotes contain page numbers as well. Look at the bottom of the page to identify which edition of the text by Jane Austen they are referring to.
“[Mrs. Bennet] was a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper. When she was discontented she fancied herself nervous. The business of her life was to get her daughters married; its solace was visiting and news." (226)
“Mr. Darcy walked off; and Elizabeth remained with no very cordial feelings towards him. She told the story however with great spirit among her friends; for she had a lively, playful disposition, which delighted in any thing ridiculous." (230)
“[Mr. Darcy] is a most disagreeable, horrid man, not at all worth pleasing. So high and so conceited that there was no enduring him! He walked here, and he walked there, fancying himself so very great! Not handsome enough to dance with! I wish you had been there, my dear, to have given him one of your set downs. I quite detest the man." (231)
“…Elizabeth was far from suspecting that she was herself becoming an object of some interest….Mr. Darcy had at first scarcely allowed her to be pretty; he had looked at her without admiration at the ball; and when they next met, he looked at her only to criticize. But no sooner had he made it clear to himself and his friends that she had hardly a good feature in her face, than he began to find it was rendered uncommonly intelligent by the beautiful expression of her dark eyes." (236)
“Though he had detected with a critical eye more than one failure of perfect symmetry in her form, he was forced to acknowledge her figure to be light and pleasing; and inspite of his asserting that her manners were not those of the fashionable world, he was caught by their easy playfulness." (236)
“…when nothing better offered, a walk to Merryton was necessary to amuse their morning hours and furnish conversation for the evening; and however bare of news the country in general might be, they always contrived to learn some….." (239)
“I have faults enough but they are not, I hope, of understanding. My temper I dare not vouch for….I cannot forget the follies and vices of others as soon as I ought, nor their offences against myself. My feelings are not puffed about with every attempt to move them. My temper would perhaps be called resentful. My good opinion, once lost, is lost for ever." (257)
“These is, I belief, in every disposition a tendency to some particular evil, a natural defect, which not even the best education can overcome." (257)
“And your defect is a propensity to hate everybody…. And yours,…is willfully to misunderstand them." (257)
“Elizabeth, as they drove along, watched for the first appearance of Pemberley Woods with some perturbation, and when at length they turned in at the lodge, her spirits were in a high flutter." (361)
Reference: Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. In The Complete Novels of Jane Austen. New York: Penguin, 1983