《傲慢与偏见》(Pride and prejudice)是简·奥斯汀最早完成的作品.这部作品以日常生活为素材,一反当时社会上流行的感伤小说的内容和矫揉造作的写作方法,生动地反映了 18世纪末到19世纪初处于保守和闭塞状态下的英国乡镇生活和世态人情.这部社会风情画式的小说不仅在当时吸引着广大的读者,时至今日,仍给读者以独特的 艺术享受.
奥斯汀在这部小说中通过班纳特五个女儿对待终身大事的不同处理,表现出乡镇中产阶级家庭出身的少女对婚姻爱情问题的不同态度,从而反映了作者本人的婚姻 观：为了财产、金钱和地位而结婚是错误的;而结婚不考虑上述因素也是愚蠢的.因此,她既反对为金钱而结婚,也反对把婚姻当儿戏.她强调理想婚姻的重要性, 并把男女双方感情作为缔结理想婚姻的基石.
WHEN Jane and Elizabeth were alone, the former, who had been cautious in her praise of Mr. Bingley before, expressed to her sister how very much she admired him.
"He is just what a young man ought to be," said she, "sensible, good humoured, lively; and I never saw such happy manners! -- so much ease, with such perfect good breeding!"
"He is also handsome," replied Elizabeth, "which a young man ought likewise to be, if he possibly can. His character is thereby complete."
"I was very much flattered by his asking me to dance a second time. I did not expect such a compliment."
"Did not you? I did for you. But that is one great difference between us. Compliments always take you by surprise, and me never. What could be more natural than his asking you again? He could not help seeing that you were about five times as pretty as every other women in the room. No thanks to his gallantry for that. Well, he certainly is very agreeable, and I give you leave to like him. You have liked many a stupider person."
"Oh! you are a great deal too apt, you know, to like people in general. You never see a fault in any body. All the world are good and agreeable in your eyes. I never heard you speak ill of a human being in my life."
"I would wish not to be hasty in censuring any one; but I always speak what I think."
"I know you do; and it is that which makes the wonder. With your good sense, to be honestly blind to the follies and nonsense of others! Affectation of candour is common enough; -- one meets it every where. But to be candid without ostentation or design -- to take the good of every body's character and make it still better, and say nothing of the bad -- belongs to you alone. And so, you like this man's sisters too, do you? Their manners are not equal to his."
"Certainly not; at first. But they are very pleasing women when you converse with them. Miss Bingley is to live with her brother and keep his house; and I am much mistaken if we shall not find a very charming neighbour in her."
Elizabeth listened in silence, but was not convinced. Their behaviour at the assembly had not been calculated to please in general; and with more quickness of observation and less pliancy of temper than her sister, and with a judgment, too, unassailed by any attention to herself, she was very little disposed to approve them. They were in fact very fine ladies, not deficient in good humour when they were pleased, nor in the power of being agreeable where they chose it; but proud and conceited. They were rather handsome, had been educated in one of the first private seminaries in town, had a fortune of twenty thousand pounds, were in the habit of spending more than they ought, and of associating with people of rank; and were therefore in every respect entitled to think well of themselves, and meanly of others. They were of a respectable family in the north of England; a circumstance more deeply impressed on their memories than that their brother's fortune and their own had been acquired by trade.