Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen
Main Ideas

Metaphors and Similes

Main Ideas Metaphors and Similes

Chapter 9 

“. . . I wonder who first discovered the efficacy of poetry in driving away love!” 
“I have been used to consider poetry as the food of love,” said Darcy. 
“Of a fine, stout, healthy love it may. Everything nourishes what is strong already. But if it be only a slight, thin sort of inclination, I am convinced that one good sonnet will starve it entirely away.” 

When Elizabeth makes a joke about poetry pushing love away, Darcy contradicts her by alluding to the play Twelfth Night, in which Shakespeare uses a metaphor to compare music to “the food of love” because it nourishes and grows romantic relationships. However, Elizabeth counters that while poetry might feed strong love, “one good sonnet” would kill a weaker inclination.  

Chapter 14

“Her indifferent state of health unhappily prevents her being in town; and by that means, as I told Lady Catherine one day, has deprived the British court of its brightest ornament . . . “ 

Mr. Collins never misses an opportunity to compliment his patroness, as in this metaphor in which he compares Lady Catherine’s sickly daughter, Anne, to a bright, beautiful object admired by all. 

Chapter 18 

“. . . [R]eports may vary greatly with respect to me; and I could wish, Miss Bennet, that you were not to sketch my character at the present moment, as there is reason to fear that the performance would reflect no credit on either.” 

After Elizabeth hints to Darcy that she has heard rumors about his alleged horrible treatment of Wickham, he uses this metaphor to compare her current impression of him to a sketch that neither portrays him accurately, nor shows in her a talent for judging character. 

As Elizabeth had no longer any interest of her own to pursue, she turned her attention almost entirely on her sister and Mr. Bingley; and the train of agreeable reflections which her observations gave birth to, made her perhaps almost as happy as Jane.  

In this metaphor, the narrator compares Elizabeth’s reflections on watching Jane and Mr. Bingley interact at the ball at Netherfield to birth, the long-hoped-for conclusion of a healthy pregnancy, just as marriage might be the conclusion for a healthy courtship. 

Chapter 19

"But before I am run away with by my feelings on this subject, perhaps it would be advisable for me to state my reasons for marrying—and, moreover, for coming into Hertfordshire with the design of selecting a wife, as I certainly did."

While Mr. Collins proposes marriage to Elizabeth, he uses this metaphor to compare his desire for her to being “run away with,” or kidnapped by, his strong feelings. 

Chapter 20

"An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents."

In this metaphor, Mr. Bennet points out that Elizabeth’s decision to marry Mr. Collins will change her relationship with one of her parents forever; instead of a parent-child relationship, it will be an estranged relationship because as Mr. Bennet later explains, “Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do.”  

Chapter 29

“Your mother must have been quite a slave to your education.” 

When Lady Catherine de Bourgh learns that Elizabeth did not have a governess, or a private teacher, Lady Catherine uses this metaphor to compare having full rein over educating a young woman to an enslaved person’s plight. 

Chapter 34

“From the very beginning—from the first moment, I may almost say—of my acquaintance with you, your manners, impressing me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others, were such as to form the groundwork of disapprobation on which succeeding events have built so immovable a dislike . . . 

Just after Darcy confesses his love to Elizabeth, she uses this metaphor to compare her dislike of Darcy to a building that’s been constructed on the foundations of her poor first impression of him. 

Chapter 36

"Had I been in love, I could not have been more wretchedly blind!"

When Elizabeth realizes she was wrong in her impressions of both Wickham and Darcy, she uses this metaphor to compare her inability to judge true character to the kind of blindness to imperfection that a lover often has for their beloved. 

Chapter 40

"Your profusion makes me saving; and if you lament over him much longer, my heart will be as light as a feather."

In this simile, Elizabeth compares her heart to a feather after she tells Jane how she has misjudged both Darcy’s and Wickham’s characters, because Jane’s distress at their misapprehension is so sincere that it humbles and unburdens Elizabeth of some of her guilt about her treatment of Darcy.