Pride and PrejudicePride and PrejudiceOn pride and prejudice, which in your opinioncomes in for sharper criticism from Austen. Support your answer by referringto specific incidents and episodes. pride n. , v. , 1.
high (or too high) opinionof one’s own dignity, importance, worth, etc. 2. the condition or feelingof being proud. 3. a noble sense of what is due to oneself or one’s positionor character; self respect; self esteem.
prejudice n. , v. , 1. an opinion(usually unfavourable), formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought,or reason.Order now
2. disadvantage resulting from some judgement or action of another. 3. the resulting injury or loss. In my opinion, pride comes in for the sharpercriticism by Austen.
She has chosen to personify this trait in severalcharacters in “Pride and Prejudice” although it is hard to find one characterwho portrays prejudice alone, throughout the novel. When prejudice doesoccur in this novel, Jane Austen has shown it in the hands of a notoriouslyproud character. Because prejudice is not personified (ie. depicted asa major characteristic flaw) I believe that it was not to be the objectof Jane Austen’s sharper criticism.
Jane Austen has depicted pride in her minor(functional) characters as a means of demonstrating it’s importance asa theme of this novel. Lady Catherine is one of the main offenders, herairs, arrogance and pride are fuelled by other characters like Mr Collinswho is put there to satire proud people and their followers. Another importantcharacter to note is Mr Darcy. He is an extremely important character inthis novel, a major character, and I think that the fact that he was perceivedto have been ‘proud’ at the beginning of the novel by the reader, Elizabeth,and the community of the shire, and our perception, along with Elizabeth,of his character, has changed throughout the novel points to Jane Austen’scriticism of pride and snobbery (insinuating that once pride is done awaywith (and along with it, prejudice) a character becomes much more favourable. (Note that Lady Catherine does not sway from her proud arrogant position,from beginning to end of the novel, this partly to provide a contrast betweenthe supposed arrogance of Mr Darcy at the beginning of the novel, and hisbehaviour by the end.
)Throughout this novel we are shown thearrogant and haughty dispositions of the upperclass of this society. (Weare also shown the exceptions to the rule, namely Mr Bingley and Miss Darcy. )These people are exceedingly proud of their great fortunes and estatesand as a result of the emphasis at that time on monetary issues, they areprejudiced (and commit acts of prejudice) towards their financial, andsocial, “inferiors”. An example of this is the beginning of the novel,the ball, when Mr Darcy snubs Elizabeth Bennet in an act of prejudice. He refuses to dance with her on account of her not being “handsome enoughto tempt me. ” After being described throughout the chapter as being “theproudest, most disagreeable man in the world” because he would not socialise(“he danced only once with Mrs Hurst and once with Miss Bingley, declinedbeing introduced to any other lady, and spent the rest of the evening walkingabout the room, speaking occasionally to one of his own party”) his refusalto dance with Elizabeth Bennet is consistent with the rest of his snobberyand it is logical that he is slighting Elizabeth Bennet because he is excessivelyproud and does not feel that her handsomeness is worthy of his.
Another example of proud character executingprejudice on an “inferior” candidate is Miss Bingley and Mr Darcy’s conspiracyagainst Mr Bingley and Miss Bennet’s courtship and inevitable marriage. Together, Mr Darcy and Miss Bingley decide that Mr Bingley and Jane arenot suited and therefore should not be married because Jane’s backgroundis not worthy of Mr Bingley’s rich, socially handsome estate. Firstly,Mr. Darcy influences Bingley to leave Netherfield, then Miss Bingley “fails”to tell him of Jane’s prescence in London (although she knows that it wouldbe of great interest to him. ) It is because of their pride, and their warpperception of their own, and in this case their brother or friend’s pride,that influences to think they would be “doing the right thing” by keepingJane and Mr. Bingley apart.
Lady Catherine’s bullyin of Elizabeth (atthe end of the novel) in an effort to dissuade her from marrying Darcyis a result of her feeling that her own daughter was entitled to Mr. Darcymore than Elizabeth (who was not worth as much socially or in monetaryvalue. ) She argues “are the shades of Pemberley to be thus polluted?” Thisis an act of extreme arrogance stemming from her prejudice against Elizabeth. Lady Catherine, as a result of her pride, believes she is more importantthan everyone and that everyone else should respect and honour them (inthis case Elizabeth) by rejecting a proposal from a man who she loves andwho loves her.
This obscene assumption on Lady Catherine’s behalf is asa result of her prejudice towards the Bennets because of their lower income,and social status. The prejudice against them for such a reason is rootedin her own arrogant pride. In the case of the characteristics prideand prejudice (two key themes of the novel) I think that pride comes infor the sharper criticism by Jane Austen. I think this because of her personificationof pride (in characters like Lady Catherine) and the fact that the prejudicewhich does occur in the novel is accompanied by, if not rooted in pride.
Through the incidents spoken on above, prejudice has been shown to be aresult of arrogant pride and because it is an underlying emotive in theprejudiced actions of the characters I feel it is more sharply criticised.