Published in 1813, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is one of the most famous and loved books in English literature. Till now, the novel was sold in more than 20 million copies all over the world, while the story was adapted in movies and theatres, but also inspired a lot of other books.
Pride and Prejudice follows Elizabeth Bennet`s story, a young woman who has to deal with education, morality, manners, upbringing and marriage in the context of the rigid society of early 19th century England.
The Bennets have five unmarried daughters and Mrs. Bennet`s biggest wish is to see them all married. When wealthy single gentleman Charles Bingley rents a place in the area, he is perceived as a possible husband for one of the five girls – Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Lydia and Kitty. At a ball, Jane spends a lot of time with Mr. Bingley, while Mr. Darcy, his close friend, refuses to dance with Elizabeth and leaves a negative impression because of his arrogance.
Time passes and Mr. Darcy feels more and more attracted to charming and intelligent Elizabeth, while Mr. Bingley starts seeing Jane. An illness forces Jane to remain at the Bingley mansion for a few days and Elizabeth goes there too, to the despair of Miss Bingley who loves Mr. Darcy.
Elizabeth refuses the marriage proposal of Mr. Collins, a young clergyman and she is told that Darcy cheated a man to take an inheritance. The Bingleys and Darcy return to London for the winter and Jane is sad. Mr. Collins marries Charlotte, Elizabeth`s best friend. Jane goes to London hoping Mr. Bingley will come to see her, but he does not show up.
During spring, Elizabeth reencounters Mr. Darcy and he proposes to her. Elizabeth refuses and accuses him for influencing Mr. Bingley to break up with Jane and also for disinheriting that man. Darcy sends her a letter explaining that he thought his friend`s romance was not serious, as for the disinheritance, it is all a lie. After reading the letter, Elizabeth rethinks her feelings for Mr. Darcy.
Summer finds Elizabeth travelling with some relatives and arriving at Mr. Darcy`s mansion. They meet, but Elizabeth`s sister runs away with her lover and she has to return home. The fugitive couple is found and they marry in exchange of an annual income provided by Mr. Darcy.
Mr. Bingley proposes to Jane, while Elizabeth is told not to accept Mr. Darcy`s proposal because she is not a suitable match for him. As an answer to the request coming from Darcy`s rich aunt, Elizabeth says to the lady that she will not agree with anything standing in the way of her happiness. Finally, Darcy proposes again and Elizabeth says yes.
The main themes of Pride and Prejudice are love, reputation, class, social standards, family, honor, the importance of environment and upbringing, as well as, of course, pride and prejudice.