Status In The Pride And Prejudice English Literature Essay

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Pride: a feeling of self-respect and personal worth; the trait of being spurred on by a dislike of falling below your standards. Prejudice: an adverse judgment or opinion formed beforehand or without knowledge of the facts. In Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice, the self-explanatory definitions of the two words are merged together in an effort to show that they are not as unrelated as they seem. The way in which Austen compares the words shows that having pride and/or prejudice as a trait proves to have the same effect on the others around you, such as returning the favor of resentment. Throughout the novel she tricks the audience into believing pride and prejudice are the driving forces between the characters when in actuality the driving force is their love for one another.

We are first introduced with Austen's meaning of pride when Elizabeth overhears Darcy's comment about her, "She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men" (13). Those words Darcy speaks are his snooty reaction to his best friend Bingley's proposition to dance with Elizabeth. Since Darcy is so very prideful, he views the people at the ball he is attending to be his social subordinates, therefore declining Bingley's offer to dance with Elizabeth. Unfortunately for Darcy, he makes his insulting comments within hearing range of Elizabeth so he unknowingly creates a bad report for himself as being too prideful and disrespectful. Since Elizabeth knows how Darcy feels about her, she has a negative image of him in her mind. This contributes to the difficulty Darcy has letting Elizabeth know his feelings towards her along with the fact that he must overcome his great sense of pride and admit to loving someone whom Darcy would consider to be inferior.

Jane Austen seems to make Darcy appear as the bad guy. She makes Darcy the one character that holds immense amounts of both pride and prejudice. "I have no wish of denying that I did every thing in my power to separate my friend from your sister, or that I rejoice in my success. Towards him I have been kinder than towards myself" (223). Here, Darcy is telling Elizabeth how he has no need to explain himself and has no regrets about splitting his friend and Elizabeth's sister apart from each other. This shows that Darcy was exhibiting the trait of prejudice towards Elizabeth's sister Jane and the rest of her entire family for just being a lower class than him. This makes Elizabeth angry because she feels her family is the sole cause of Darcy's actions. This proves Darcy to be prejudice since he did not quite know everything about Jane, Elizabeth's sister, or her family before splitting Jane and Bingley apart. Darcy acted swiftly and irrationally before he took action. He unknowingly affected his relationship with Elizabeth. Since prejudice is contagious, Elizabeth catches it because she starts holding feelings of contempt towards Darcy even though she doesn't completely understand his motives behind his actions towards her sister.

"How despicably have I acted!' she cried. - 'I, who have prided myself on my discernment! - I, who have valued myself on my abilities!" (236). Elizabeth says this to herself after she reads the letter Darcy left her. She recognizes that she had prejudice towards Darcy because she made up her mind about him before all the facts were presented to her. This is an example of Austen merged the two words of pride and prejudice together; the traits have the same effect on people, they push others away.

Austen makes a fool of her audience by making them believe that Darcy and Elizabeth are the most prideful and prejudice characters throughout the novel up until the near end. This is because Darcy and Elizabeth seem to grow out of their ways because they realized that their love for each other was greater than their class and social status and personal dislike for each other. Lady Catherine de Bourgh represents the unchanging prejudice in society because she believe no one is good enough for Darcy or their family unless they are of equal or higher social status. This is because her social status for her entire life has been incredibly high and has always lived with wealth. "If he had been wavering before, as to what he should do, which had often seemed likely, the advice and entreaty of so near a relation might settle every doubt, and determine him at once to be as happy, as dignity unblemished could make him" (370). The "so near a relation" Austen is referring to is Darcy's Aunt Lady Catherine. The ability Lady Catherine has to persuade Darcy scares Elizabeth because she fears that she will bring back attention back to her family coming from a lower class to Darcy in hopes of Darcy becoming prideful again and permanently stay away from Elizabeth. Though Darcy does not listen to his Aunt and does away with his pride.

Since the first time Elizabeth witnesses Darcy's pride, she too becomes full of pride and prejudice, the two traits which connect the two characters together. Since both Darcy and Elizabeth repelled each other away through their pride and through their prejudice, Austen was successful in blending the two words together making them more similar than they are different. Although they seemed to hate each other, Darcy's and Elizabeth's prejudice seem to draw them together. Even though they seemed to despise one another through their pride and their prejudice, their love came through and exceeded the power of both of those two traits.