My A to Z of Pride and Prejudice – Letter P and P

Pride-and-Prejudice_LOVEThe 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.

PP is for Pride and for Prejudice (2 for 1)

“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?


Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth in BBC 1995 Pride & Prejudice mini-series

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.

Categories: Book Recommendations, Thoughts, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

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20 thoughts on “My A to Z of Pride and Prejudice – Letter P and P

  1. Great post. You’ve really succeeded in making me want to read this book. I’ll have to pick it up sooner rather than later. 🙂

  2. Oooo, I love that last sentance! I’ve always thought they both had a little bit of both in them, though Darcy was definitely prouder, and Lizzie was definitely more prejudiced. Though that last thought perfectly sums up how they were both!

  3. I think you are spot on with this. Both Elizabeth and Darcy were proud and prejudiced at times during the story. The two kind of go together. In the end, they realize how much alike they are on both these points.

    • Yes! They are so different (him reserved and she out-going), but they are the same (proud and prejudice). Thanks Shell!

  4. I so need to read this! I’m so behind…too many on my TBR pile…ugh!
    Jamie Dement (LadyJai)
    My A to Z
    Caring for My Veteran

  5. I always pictured it the other way around. Darcy always seemed more prejudice to me and Elizabeth had too much pride (despite what they would say about each other)!

  6. I am reading all your alphabet posts and I find them really enjoyable and well-written. As for the ambiguity on who’s proud and who’s prejudiced, I think it’s fully intended. When Elizabeth and Darcy are dancing together she asks him: “And [you] never allow yourself to be blinded by prejudice?”. Conversely, when he proposes for the first time and is so scornfully rejected, he cries: “But perhaps […] these offences might have been overlooked, had not your pride been hurt by my honest confession of the scruples that had long prevented my forming any serious design”. A wonderful display of Austen’s irony in my opinion.

    (Sorry if my English is poor, not a native speaker but very interested in this discussion!)

    • I’d dare to say that you have a better grasp of the English language than I do and it IS my native tongue.

      Thank you for reading my A to Z posts and for commenting. I never profess to be an expert on Pride & Prejudice (or Jane Austen), just an ardent fan. I’m certain you could school me on my bumbling theories…especially with a user name like Austenismi. HA!

      You are so right that Jane Austen was intentionally vague. I just didn’t see it…until I read the story half a dozen times. Her genius seems to know no bounds.

      • Ardent fan as well!

        Do you think my username sounds patronizing? I chose it because I am trying to build an Austen-centred blog (language: Italian) in which I would like to talk about her novels, focus on what I consider important topics in her corpus etc., but I wouldn’t want to seem pretentious!

        I didn’t have the slightest intention (nor the required knowledge, alas…) to school you or anyone, I’m sorry if I gave you this impression. I’m only browsing the Jane Austen tag and leaving comments wherever I find something interesting (e.g. right here) in order to engage in enlightening & insightful conversations and sometimes find ideas for future post.

        I hope you will write again about Jane Austen!


      • Please don’t get me wrong. I LOVE your user name. It is perfect for a true Austen fan. Also, I love that you are making a blog centered around our dear Jane. I wonder if anyone else is doing that in Italian. Do you read the books in Italian or in English? If both, does it translate well? I’m very curious.

        I think you were correct with your statement about the author’s intentions of ambiguity in who was proud and who was prejudice. You did not seem to be pretentious in any way and I did not take offense. I WELCOME comments. Thank you. Thank you for bothering to let me know your thoughts and for letting me know I may have offended you. It wasn’t my intention. Please feel free to comment on any of my posts.

        My statements were to mean that I am really limited in my knowledge of Pride & Prejudice and Jane Austen. All I have done is read the book over and over and over. That is why the theme of my A to Z blog series was “What I Love About Pride & Prejudice.” Love of the story can’t be wrong…even if my opinions are.

  7. No offense taken, none at all!

    Actually, there are a couple of Italian blogs about Jane Austen and one blog which is only about prequels, sequels, retellings etc. The bloggers behind the latter are very active and have in fact succeeded in making publishers interested in those sequels. In the last year, both Amanda Grange’s “The diary of Mr. Darcy” and the very first Austen sequel, “Old friends and new fancies”, have been translated into Italian. To be honest, sequels are not exactly my cup of tea so I am not updated about any of them, nevertheless they make Austen buzz so I try not to be too choosy and rejoyce whenever there is a chance to talk about her and rethink her work. I also hope this will lead publishers to translate what I really care about, i.e. literary criticism. I have noticed that the most influential works are now very difficult to find, both in original language and translated, and the prices are usually quite high. What a pity!

    As for your question about translation, I am not sure it translates well. I do not find much difference in dialogue and scenes, but indirect speech does lose something and is a bit more convoluted in Italian. All considered, I always choose to read in English (unless I have a very bad headache!), mainly because the first thing that goes out of the window in translation is the musicality of Austen’s prose (I have always loved that Virginia Woolf quote: “Jane Austen breaks from melody to melody as Mozart from song to song”).

    I am very curious to know what Jane Austen’s English sounds to a modern reader: does it sound old? Sophisticated or perhaps the opposite?

    • I wondered if the eloquence of the language would transfer. Thank you for letting me know.

      For my modern ear, and for those younger than me, Jane Austen’s work does sound old-fashioned. That makes it harder to understand. Perhaps it’s like translating it into Italian (funny). I have read Pride and Prejudice so many times (about once a year) and I find that I discover some new joke or information I missed on previous readings.

      It is required reading in many schools (though it wasn’t in mine). In a way I wish it weren’t because so many young people get bored (or the headache you mentioned) trying to decipher meaning. I am so glad I was able to find Pride and Prejudice on my own. I don’t think I would have loved it as much if I were made to read it.

      • This is exactly what happens to the Italian novel “The betrothed”, by Alessandro Manzoni: we have all been made to read it in school, therefore everybody hates it (though it is a great novel)!

        I was wondering if you could help me understand one thing I was never able to decipher in P&P: when Lydia is in Brighton, she writes many letters to Kitty. Those letters, however, cannot be showed to the other members of the family because there are too many words under the lines (or something like that). What on earth does this mean? I’ve been wondering in vain for the last ten years.

      • I think, but am not certain, that this means there were parts of the writing that were underlined. Those parts were only to be read by Kitty and not shared with the family (secret gossip or something like that). The rest was the day to day details that Kitty could feel free to read to everyone else.

      • Oh, I see. Wickham gossip. 🙂

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