The April A to Z Blogging Challenge is a month-long event where I, and more than 2000 other bloggers, will post every day of the month (except Sundays) using a different letter of the alphabet. The theme of my posts will be “What I Love About Pride and Prejudice.” Click the link above or the A to Z badge in my sidebar to visit other participants.
“He is not at all liked in Hertfordshie. Everybody is disgusted with his pride. You will not find him more favorably spoken of by anyone.” –Jane Austen Pride & Prejudice
When I think of Pride & Prejudice, I always assumed that Jane Austen was referring to Mr. Darcy with the term ‘pride’ and Elizabeth Bennet with ‘prejudice.’ But maybe I’ve been wrong. Could it be that it cuts both ways? In the case of prejudice and pride, do both Elizabeth and Darcy share these tendencies?
With prejudice, Elizabeth obviously judged Mr. Darcy harshly from the moment he refused to mingle and then slighted her. She was quick to use these offenses to proclaim him unbearable. Her wall of prejudice then built up as Wickham provided more reasons to dislike him.
But perhaps Mr. Darcy was also prejudice. He judged the whole of Meryton, the Bennet family and anyone else who crossed his path. Instead of letting the relationship of Bingley and Jane Bennet run its course, he worked to separate them. Why? It wasn’t just because of her lack of family connections. It also was because he assumed she didn’t have any real affection for his friend. He judged her intentions without knowing her. That is prejudice.
As for pride, it’s easy to see that Mr. Darcy was an extremely proud man. He even admitted as much in a discussion with Elizabeth one evening at Netherfield. To him this wasn’t a failing. “But pride — where there is a real superiority of mind, pride will be always under good regulation.”
So, was Elizabeth proud? She did pride herself on being perceptive and witty. Her pride was wounded by Mr. Darcy’s comments at the Meryton Ball. Even though these things are true, I don’t call them a sign of being to proud. To me it would take a measure towards seeing yourself as being better than someone else to make that leap.
I am making that leap though. When Elizabeth was embarrassed by members of her family in the presence of Mr. Darcy and the Bingleys, it was pride that made her feel it. Elizabeth was proud of her own worth. This meant that she couldn’t tolerate having the people she felt superior to looking down on her.
Pride & Prejudice was the perfect name for this book. Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth were both reflected in the meaning of these terms. Now when I think about the title I feel that it was Darcy’s pride that made him prejudice and Elizabeth’s prejudice that made her proud.
Do you agree? I’d love for you to share your thoughts.