Pride and Prejudice

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Houses Symbol Icon
Throughout Pride and Prejudice, Austen pays particular attention to the manner and style of many of the characters' homes or estates. A small-scale home like the Bennets' is presented as a suitable, if modest, dwelling place in which to raise five daughters. Though it's somewhat plain, it's still respectable. In contrast, larger manors like Bingley's at Netherfield Park, Lady Catherine's estate of Rosings, or Darcy's palatial home of Pemberley are showcases for their owner's enormous wealth and are conspicuous symbols of social prestige. Elizabeth's reaction on first seeing Pemberley and her imagining how it would be to live there illustrates that even her calm, cool sense of detachment is awed by the beauty and size of the estate. In a way, houses and estates function as the outward signs of their owner's inward character. They carry an almost spiritual significance. Rosings may be grand, but it does not possess the tasteful elegance of Pemberley. Elizabeth's elevation from Longbourn to Pemberley marks not only a rise in her social position, but an advance in her moral growth as well.

Houses Quotes in Pride and Prejudice

The Pride and Prejudice quotes below all refer to the symbol of Houses. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Pride Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of Pride and Prejudice published in 2002.
Chapter 43 Quotes
Elizabeth was delighted. She had never seen a place for which nature had done more, or where natural beauty had been so little counteracted by an awkward taste. They were all of them warm in their admiration; and at that moment she felt that to be mistress of Pemberley might be something!
Related Characters: Elizabeth (Eliza, Lizzy) Bennet, Fitzwilliam Darcy
Related Symbols: Houses
Page Number: 235
Explanation and Analysis:

Elizabeth is touring Pemberley, Darcy's estate, and she is impressed by the beauty of the place. Elizabeth has never been vain or silly (like her sister Lydia), and this is one of the few times that she seems enraptured by something so material as an estate. Still, Pemberley is closely linked in her mind with Darcy as a person, and as she tours it she cannot help but imagine a life that might have been possible for her, had she not made the mistake of rejecting his proposal.

Elizabeth does not really feel at home with her own family, and she knows that as a young lady without a fortune she cannot create a home for herself without a husband. At Pemberley she indulges in the thought that being with Darcy would have allowed her to have this kind of home, with all the order and stability that stems from it, and even to be "mistress" of a place. Elizabeth's fanciful thoughts are less rational than is usually the case for her, but they are meant to show just how powerful the symbols of class and class stability can be for someone in a vulnerable position at this time.


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