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Pride and Prejudice | Study Guide

Jane Austen

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Professor Bradley Greenburg of Northeastern Illinois University explains the symbols in Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice.

Pride and Prejudice | Symbols



The houses and estates in Pride and Prejudice symbolize social class. The grander the house, the higher the social status of the occupants. More significantly, however, the houses come to represent their owners. Since readers learn more in Pride and Prejudice through dialogue than description, the parallels between characters and their houses are revealed as other characters react to the homes.

For example, the grandeur of Rosings leads visitors to become awestruck; it induces a sense of inferiority in the viewer. The owner of Rosings, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, elicits the same emotions with her haughty and untouchable attitude.

Pemberley, on the other hand, is equally grand but also charms its visitors. The estate feels natural and welcoming, and the care that goes into maintaining it is evident. In the same way, Pemberley's owner, Fitzwilliam Darcy, seems unreachable at first because of his elevated status, but he proves his fine character as others get to know him.


For the heroine of Pride and Prejudice, nature is a clear symbol of freedom. Elizabeth Bennet is never happier than when she can enjoy the outdoors, especially when she is alone. Elizabeth treasures her walks in nature, away from the constraints of society. The garden paths of the great estates she visits, not within their walls, is where she finds peace.

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