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DavidShapard
Posts: 25
Registered: ‎05-24-2007
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How Bad is Pride?

Much of the novel, starting with the title, focuses on the issue of pride. In many ways pride is depicted in wholly negative terms. Darcy's pride is repeatedly shown, and repeatedly condemned, especially by Elizabeth. She also displays pride at times, especially pride in her own wit and cleverness, and, as she ultimatel admits, this is an important cause of her problems.

Yet towards the end Elizabeth, in speaking to her father, says that Darcy "has no improper pride". This line has long intrigued me, since it seems to suggest that a certain amount of pride is acceptable, or even good. It has made me wonder how much the novel could be seen as offering some defense of pride, and whether that might represent an inconsistency in the novel. Certainly the other title word, prejudice, is never shown as having defensible aspects.

I would be curious as to other people's opinions.
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Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
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Re: How Bad is Prejudice?


DavidShapard wrote:
...Certainly the other title word, prejudice, is never shown as having defensible aspects.




This is risky, because I am asking this question mostly from my memory of the picture, but are you sure about this statement?

It seems to me that Jane Austin is subtle enough that, while she doesn't condone "prejudice," she recognizes that the very familial, tribal, group aspects of humans make all but impossible avoiding preconceived judgments based on insufficient evidence. To some extent, a "moral" of the story is our human capability of revisiting and revising those prejudices (preconceived judgments or opinions) -- both the hero and heroine do so.

Main Entry: prej·u·dice
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin praejudicium previous judgment, damage, from prae- + judicium judgment — more at judicial
Date: 13th century

1: injury or damage resulting from some judgment or action of another in disregard of one's rights; especially: detriment to one's legal rights or claims 2a(1): preconceived judgment or opinion (2): an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge b: an instance of such judgment or opinion c: an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics

Synonyms: predilection, prepossession, prejudice, bias mean an attitude of mind that predisposes one to favor something. predilection implies a strong liking deriving from one's temperament or experience [a predilection for travel]. prepossession suggests a fixed conception likely to preclude objective judgment of anything counter to it [a prepossession against technology]. prejudice usually implies an unfavorable prepossession and connotes a feeling rooted in suspicion, fear, or intolerance [a mindless prejudice against the unfamiliar]. bias implies an unreasoned and unfair distortion of judgment in favor of or against a person or thing [a strong bias toward the plaintiff]. Definitions and synonyms from m-w.com

PS -- If I haven't introduced myself yet on this board, please forgive this probably rude intrusion. I have been enjoying the conversations here since its inception.
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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CallMeLeo
Posts: 513
Registered: ‎11-08-2006
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Re: How Bad is Pride?

[ Edited ]

DavidShapard wrote:
Much of the novel, starting with the title, focuses on the issue of pride. In many ways pride is depicted in wholly negative terms. Darcy's pride is repeatedly shown, and repeatedly condemned, especially by Elizabeth. She also displays pride at times, especially pride in her own wit and cleverness, and, as she ultimatel admits, this is an important cause of her problems.

Yet towards the end Elizabeth, in speaking to her father, says that Darcy "has no improper pride". This line has long intrigued me, since it seems to suggest that a certain amount of pride is acceptable, or even good. It has made me wonder how much the novel could be seen as offering some defense of pride, and whether that might represent an inconsistency in the novel. Certainly the other title word, prejudice, is never shown as having defensible aspects.

I would be curious as to other people's opinions.


I would tend to conclude from Austen's ending that a certain amount of pride is defensible. And maybe that goes for some prejudice as well, because Elizabeth's prejudice against Darcy stems, justifiably and in keeping with human nature, from hurt pride.

I perceive Elizabeth's visit to Pemberley as a turning point. We begin to see a shifting where some pride can be understood and excused because of Darcy's status and responsibilities: the grand estate "where natural beauty had been so little counteracted by an awkward taste"; the furniture "neither gaudy or uselessly fine"; and the housekeeper describing Darcy as "the best landlord and the best master". Austen seems to paint a portrait of house and grounds that reflect the true nature of its master, puzzling and delighting Elizabeth. Darcy's gracious behavior on his unexpected arrival compounds this impression. The master now fits the image of the house.

The possibility of "some defense of pride" in the novel might not really be an inconsistency, because Lizzie's observation about "no improper pride" brings Charlotte Lucas's statement in Book 1, Chapter 5, full circle: "His pride" said Miss LUcas, "does not offend me so much as pride often does, because there is an excuse for it. One cannot wonder that so very fine a young man, with family, forturne, every thing in his favour should think highly of himself. If I may so express it, he has a right to be proud."

Message Edited by CallMeLeo on 06-19-2007 04:46 PM
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