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Home » » Discuss how the theme of Pride and Prejudice exemplifies the need for organic unity of society?
The theme of Pride and Prejudice like that of other Jane Austen's novels, is courtship and marriage. But for Jane Austen who essentially held a eighteenth century view of man as a social being, marriage had to be within the parameters of society. In this she followed the classicists who held that there was an organic unity of society and that the individual must subordinate his feelings and needs to the larger purposes of the society of which he is part.
Social unity of pride and prejudice

Love as a Social Act:

Even love is to be interpreted as less an individual act than a social act. It occurs at the will of the society, according to its laws and it will affect all the members of the society. Society is a web of personal relations, most readily seen in the network of relationships inside the family. Love and marriage are first of all important to members of the immediate families, but their influence spreads out like ripples in a pond to touch distant members of the family, and finally the society itself. The elopement of Wickham and Lydia, passionate and irresponsible, is an example of how others lives may be ruined by the selfish acts of the individual. Had the marriage not been immediately arranged by members and close friends of the families concerned, the happiness of Jane and Elizabeth would have been permanently jeopardized. We are also led to assume that even Darcy would have been permanently scarred by the scandal.

Conversely, the marriages which end the book are shown in the context of the families concerned. We are told as much about Lydia and Wickham, Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, Georgian Darcy, Caroline Bingley and Lady Catherine as we are of Jane and Bingley, Elizabeth and Darcy. The marriage contracted by these four bring happiness and stability to everyone, not simply to themselves.

Paradoxically Jane Austen does not go so far as say that family considerations should be all important. Darcy and Elizabeth marry in spite of family obligations, which are pressed on him by Lady Catherine.
Thus, we may conclude, that while Jane Austen stresses the importance of marriage as part of the organic unity of society as a whole there is no abstract philosophical attitude towards marriage and characters in her novels including 'Pride and prejudice' have to individually work out for themselves the right type of marriage, given a particular set of circumstances.


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