The Macbook Pro matte screen is way better than the Macbook's in terms of brightness, grainyness, and size.
The Macbook Pro has an aluminum enclosure, so it feels more solid and sturdy than the Macbook.
If you factor in the Macbook Pro's standard DVD burner and faster processor speed (things which you could upgrade on the Macbook), the price gap narrows to less than $1,000.
In short, get a Macbook if you just want to play around with a Mac and have a plastic laptop that you're not too worried about putting inside your backpack and lugging it everywhere you go. Get a Macbook Pro if you like working with a nice machine and have $2,500 to spend.
In terms of bang-for-the-buck utility, of course the Macbook wins, since you can use the price difference to buy a huge display for it, an iPod, or whatever else you want.
I use a Macbook Pro at work (lucky me!) and I've also used a Macbook... If I were to buy a laptop for taking notes (I'm a college student), I would get the white Macbook because it's cheaper, slightly lighter, and less worrisome than the Macbook Pro. I would then buy a huge display from Dell for when I am using the computer at home.
If you are serious about speed, buy an iMac! It is far more economical and comfortable for everyday use.