Are men proud and women prejudiced by nature, and is this why this book is such a fascinating, or perhaps simplified, caricature of these flaws? Is this why this novel resonates so much with people of our time?
Jane Austen's work, Pride and Prejudice was written on the crux of two eras, and one of the conflicts was romanticism vs realism. Yet, when it came to personal relationships, more liberal motivations were exercised by those of a higher state of society, so a character like Mr. Darcy seems to have more options (ie marrying for love) because of his financial advantages, where the Bennets are in an unstable situation and are perhaps seen as undesirable as the result of it. Mrs. Bennet is highly anxious about their situation and actively wants to use her eldest daughter Jane as a pawn to advance her own situation and Mr. Bingley is the ladder that takes her out of that pit.
Many take this novel to mean that love is the greatest asset towards a potential match, but it really addresses what it is entitled: a man's stubbornness and a woman's presumptions. When a man desires a woman, he is put into a crucible that causes him to question his rationality and approach, even his very soul at times, and so Mr. Darcy, having been upset by his becoming a social pariah at his time at Netherfield thanks to his mistakenly spoken statement about pursuing women slighted by other men, begins to internally conflict with his sense of reason, judgement, etc. In wanting to put this situation to bed and dismiss Miss Eliza Bennet, the more he does so, the more he awakens a part of himself long asleep.
This novel goes through his rationalization process, heavy at times when dealing with marriage and with his sister's crisis, but light at others, especially when dealing with his heavy handed aunt, Bingley's tampering sisters, and his more rebellious natured cousin, Col. Fitzwilliam. A heart like Mr. Darcy's is not easily touched - this novel explores how it was, how he had to deal with his own inabilities (his ungentlemanly conduct), his heavy handed aunt, his good friend Bingley being drunk on love, and his old rival, Mr. Wickham.