Education and Intelligence Fosters Love in Pride and Prejudice Love is a very powerful and driving force in Pride and Prejudice. However, love is not always about stereotypical romantics and, as illustrated in the novel, love can actually bloom from unlikely sources. Contradicting the typical fairytale direction of love stories, Pride and Prejudice instead requires that characters overcome their own sense of pride and initial feelings of prejudice in order to find their one true love.
This is contrary to the external obstacles and hardships which are often presented in Disney movies and fairytale stories that so many people refer to when looking to cite examples of love and/or romance. Throughout the book, it is made clear that individuals do not expect to find love, marriages are not defined by love and love is for the chosen few. There are no princes and princesses, no one believes they will get a happily ever after.
These chosen few are required to fully develop their character, being intelligent and thoughtful, in order to experience love. Darcy and Elizabeth are a prime example of this. They have to be very methodical and intelligent when it comes to their love because they have to overcome their own sense of pride and prejudices in order to experience love. They have to emotionally remove themselves from their situations, looking at it from an educational perspective, rather than personal or social, in order to accomplish this.
To begin with, Elizabeth is overcome with pride and prejudice. She has a very difficult time coming to a different conclusion of Darcy contrary to her first impression. “His character was decided. He was the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world, and everybody hoped that he would never come there again… Elizabeth remained with no very cordial feeling toward him” (8). For his part, Darcy looks down on Elizabeth for her place in society. He refers to her as common and not as agreeable as others (7-9).
Darcy does not think she is on par with him when it comes to social mobility and clout, so he dismisses her. He falls prey to both pride and prejudice as well; he sees himself as above her because of his place in society and he assumes that because of her place in society and lack of wealth she is essentially worthless. The two are forced to contradict their first impressions when spending more time with each other. Elizabeth is able to acknowledge another side of Darcy when she speaks to the people who work for him and tell her how he cares for his sister (55).
She could have easily decided they were simply being polite and not altogether honest, but she begins to lower her defenses and acknowledge that he is likely not entirely the proud, contempt-filled man she initially believed him to be. She gets an outsider’s perspective and educates herself using outside material, objective rather than subjective, in listening to the opinions and advice of those who have known Darcy longer than she.
Meanwhile, Darcy sees that Elizabeth has a great deal of value, even if she isn’t rich or in an enviable place in society. She is smart and she is kind. They both acknowledge her intelligence while they dance; Elizabeth announces to him “I have seen a great similarity in the turn of our minds. We are each of an unsocial, taciturn disposition, unwilling to speak, unless we expect to say something that will amaze the whole room, and be handed down to posterity” (61).
Darcy begins to understand that they are very much alike and that, as she says, they are both similar in their intelligence. Darcy has to use his own intelligence to think outside of social norms of the time. It would have been very easy to simply go with what society would oblige in such a situation and to subsequently deny his attraction to and love of Elizabeth. Social pressures can be very taxing and it takes a strong individual with an educated, determined sense of what it right and true to see beyond what is established within social norms.
While there are additional obstacles for the two lovers to overcome before they are able to be together, these are the main hurdles presented to the two. They are confronted by their own personality ‘defects’ and later, by being objective and ‘educated’, enabling them to overcome those defects, they are able to recognize and fully experience their love. This makes them one of the rare couples illustrated in Pride and Prejudice who are able to marry for love and love alone.