Elizabeth’s most often proud. Through the course

Elizabeth’s most often proud. Through the course

Elizabeth’s Pride and Darcy’s Prejudice?Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is a timeless social comedy which is both satirical and full of sentiment. The title refers to the personalities of the two main characters and cues the reader to Austen’s broader thematic purpose: to satirize nineteenth century manners and morals, especially as they relate to courtship and manners. Although both characters contain both these traits, it is mainly Mr. Darcy who exemplifies ‘pride’ while Elizabeth Bennet exemplifies ‘prejudice.

’ However, one of the book’s many ironies is that the prejudiced Elizabeth thinks it is Mr. Darcy who has the overall prejudiced disposition. Likewise, proud Darcy thinks it is Elizabeth who is most often proud.

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Through the course of the novel, these characters grow and through each other, discover their own foibles– Elizabeth is indeed prejudiced and Darcy is indeed proud. Armed with this growth and heightened moral insight, the couple is rewarded with happiness and fulfillment at the end of the novel. But what if their initial beliefs were correct? Let’s say that Mr. Darcy’s pride and Elizabeth’s prejudice were switched within the context of Austen’s plot and narrative structure. Could a proud Elizabeth and a prejudice Darcy grow in self-awareness through the circumstances of the novel and gain a better understanding of human condition? Before Austen allows her characters to have a ‘fairy-tale’ ending, they must undergo self-growth.

Given Austen’s overall view of English class structure and her empathy towards independent and spirited young women, it would be unlikely that Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy would resolve their differences and grow as human beings.It is Mary, Elizabeth Bennet’s younger sister who seems to pinpoint a working definition of “pride” as it is portrayed in the novel. She says: “Pride is a very common failing I believe. By all that I have ever read, I am convinced that it is very common indeed, that human nature is particularly prone to it, and that there are very few of us who do not cherish a feeling of self-complacency on the score of some quality or other, real or imaginary.

.. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves.

..” (67) Both Elizabeth and Darcy’s characters show evidence of pride, yet Austen clearly takes Darcy’s pride to an extreme. His character is first introduced at Netherfield Ball– he quietly keeps to himself, occasionally speaks to one of the upper class, and declines all introductions to any young ladies. As a result, the young women pass judgment and his character is decided: “He was the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world, and every body hoped that he would never come there again.” (63) Soon however, Darcy begins to develop a certain fondness for Elizabeth.

Instead of actively pursuing this interest, he maintains a remote aloofness, unable to foster a relationship. Darcy recognizes the potential in Elizabeth to be his soul mate and help him find a deep and abiding happiness. However, his pride prevents anything between them from happening. Finally towards the end of the novel, in a moment of spontaneity, Darcy proposes marriage to Elizabeth. Naturally, his proposal is filled with pride and arrogance. Instead of expressing his desire and love, Darcy lists the reasons as to why he is proposing and the struggles he endured to make himself propose.

Elizabeth’s response is a bit harsh and she harshly rejects him, calling him, “ungentleman like.” This is the climax of Darcy’s character, because he has always taken pride in the fact that he is a gentleman, and it has just been completely insulted. Elizabeth’s honesty penetrates his pride and the remaining story reveals a ‘changed’ Darcy– he is more self-aware. He now understands that he must overcome his pride in order to connect with Elizabeth in a meaningful way.

Jane Austen illustrates prejudice in Elizabeth’s character, as she is the central character in possession of this trait. Basically, Austen conveys through Elizabeth that prejudice, like pride, is a ‘common failing’ which prevents one from reaching their ultimate goal– connection with another human being– happiness. “.

.. the misfortune of speaking with bitterness is a most natural consequence of the prejudices I have been encouraging.

..” (278) Throughout the novel, it is evident that Elizabeth has a keen and critical mind. Yet her prejudices get in the way of her judgments about people. Because she was so prejudiced against Darcy upon her meeting with Wickham, she was ready to believe anything the dishonest soldier said.

The climax of Elizabeth’s character also occurs when Darcy makes his first proposal. She is taken by complete surprise because her prejudices prevented her from realizing his obvious interest. The next day when Darcy gives her his letter, we begin to see her self-growth.

Elizabeth at first read the letter with extreme prejudice and cast it aside in disgust, as it tried to explain their misunderstandings with each other. However, her good sense allows Elizabeth to realize that Darcy is indeed telling the truth. It is at this moment that Elizabeth comes to important realizations about herself: “She grew absolutely ashamed of herself.– Of neither Darcy nor Wickham could she think, without feeling that she had been blind, partial, prejudiced, absurd.” (236) As a result Elizabeth, just as Darcy, realizes she must overlook her prejudices in order to find true happiness and be together with Darcy.

“I do, I do like him… I love him. Indeed he has no improper pride. He is perfectly amiable. You do not know what he really is; then pray do not pain me by speaking of him in such terms.

” (385) Elizabeth says this to her father as an expression of her love for Darcy. And so Jane Austen ends her novel on a joyous note: as a result of Elizabeth and Darcy’s self-awareness, they are rewarded with a ‘happy ending.’ Now pretend Elizabeth’s defining quality is pride and Darcy’s defining quality is prejudice.

Would Elizabeth say those same words at the end of the story? The logical presumption appears to be that Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth wouldn’t even make it past the Netherfield ball, which was their first encounter! Mr. Darcy’s prejudice would most likely overcome his urge to talk to Elizabeth since she was of a lower class. In fact, he would most likely marry a wealthy young lady (Lady Catherine’s daughter..

.) and live the rest of his life as it was before he met Elizabeth- lonely and prosaic. Elizabeth on the other hand, would also fail to talk to Darcy because of her overbearing pride. Her pride would stand in the way of recognizing the goodness in Darcy for she would be unwilling to take this risk. She would thus appear to be a bit standoffish and uninterested. After this encounter, Elizabeth and Darcy would most likely depart and forget about the other’s existence. Recognizing the results of this character swap, it is apparent that the traits ‘pride and prejudice’ are crucial as to which character they define.

Austen uses these characters to provide a vehicle for her commentary of her life view. The novel is so tightly drawn that the characters and the circumstances move towards the inevitable conclusion which reflects this point of view– the outcome had to be exactly as written. One of Austen’s major themes in Pride and Prejudice is that in order to attain happiness and live in harmony with your lover, an individual must go through a degree of self-growth.

However, the novel wouldn’t reach that conclusion if the character traits were switched. Elizabeth and Darcy would be unable to get past their own foibles to truly recognize the essential goodness of one another. The title could certainly remain the same, the satiric tone could remain the same, but the novel could no longer be sentimental- it would be a darker commentary.

There would be no human connection and no happy ending and instead, Austen would paint the portrait of a lonely world with much dissatisfaction. Elizabeth would perhaps become a spinster and Mr. Darcy would most likely stay isolated from society in his outlandish ways or become trapped in an unfulfilling marriage. Ultimately, such a pessimistic story would most likely not be written. Certainly not from Austen, as she appears much more optomistic than this– She would never relegate a character like Elizabeth, so full of life, to a future as dark as the switched circumstances would dictate.

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