It has always been common practice in society for a person to a make judgement of another based on a misconception of that individual. Whether it be arrogance or ego, social standing or appearance, that lead to the judgement, one will always be judged. The tendency of one to blindly do the judging is a problem which must be remedied. In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice Darcy and Elisabeth develop traits which they must overcome. Darcy, because of his pride, prejudges Elisabeth based looks and social standing, Elisabeth builds her pride in defence and develops a prejudice against Darcy, and due to their relations with each other they subdue these traits and fall in love. Darcy and Elisabeth are only able to find true love once they have overcome their pride and prejudice.
Because of his social status Darcy quickly develops a prejudice against Elisabeth due to her bourgeois family background and his extensive arrogance. He has reason to be proud because, “The gentlemen all pronounced him to be a fine figure of a man” (Austen, 7). Such compliments only build an ego and so, on the night of the ball at Meryton, Mr. Bingley invites Darcy to dance with Elisabeth. He refuses, saying “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me” (Austen, 9). He is a rich land owner and sees only a middle class villager when he looks at Elisabeth and he very quickly judges her as not respectable enough for himself nor his pride. It is also the opinion of Mrs.
Bennet that Darcy is one of the most conceited men around. She explains to her daughter Elisabeth after he insults her, that “he is a most disagreeable, horrid man, not at all worth pleasing. So high and conceited that there was no enduring him” (Austen, 10). Darcy is so arrogant and prejudicial that he does not even care about what is said about him. His pride is much too strong to be bruised by such a measly comment. Darcy is a thoughtless, self-centered man with an enormous ego and a tendency to pre-judge, who’s careless actions will affect him in the future because his insults and arrogance promptly offend Elisabeth.
Elisabeth also very quickly develops a prejudice against Darcy and therefore becomes too proud to interact with him; and for good reason. After overhearing Darcy’s tactless comments about herself, she comments to her friends, “I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine” (Austen, 16). She is not only hurt by his comment but angered and resentful toward Darcy and feels it is no loss for not knowing him. As she recalls the events of the ball she begins to detest him more and more; “to her he was only the man who made himself agreeable nowhere, and not thought her handsome enough to dance with” (Austen, 19).
She now fully dislikes Darcy basing her entire perception of him on the impact of one sentence. At the music recital Darcy asks her to dance. She does not respond so he repeats his request to dance receiving the response, “I heard you before … I know … that you might have the pleasure of despising my taste … I have therefore made up my mind to tell you, that I do not want to dance a reel at all” (Austen, 45). Elisabeth is now turning the tables and is refusing to dance with Darcy. She is still angry about his comments and has developed a large misconception of him. In order for them to fall in love, it will be on Darcy now to overcome his Pride and prejudice and make the first step towards a relationship with Elisabeth.
Darcy is able to overcome his pride and his prejudice of Elisabeth to realize what kind of woman she really is, and discover that he loves her. On his third encounter with Elisabeth he looks at her again and “he was forced to acknowledge her figure to be light and pleasing; and in spite of his asserting her manners were not those of the fashionable world, he was caught by their easy playfulness” (Austen, 19). Darcy is now beginning to realize that Elisabeth is not like the other women. She is playful and intelligent and Darcy is now growing attracted to her.
In order to make his feelings clear to Elisabeth, he writes her a letter. In it he explains, “I write without any intention of paining you, or humbling myself … I am under the necessity of relating feelings which may be offensive to your’s, I can only say that I am sorry” (Austen, 174 – 175). Darcy would normally show no concern for the feelings of a woman he has wronged, much less a second class citizen, but feels different about Elisabeth. He has climbed over the wall that is social classes and found Elisabeth to be the woman he loves. His desire for Elisabeth will make him stop at nothing to make her feel the same about him.
Although Darcy is the first to overcome his pride and prejudice, Elisabeth is able to overcome her’s using her intellect to analyze the events and actions of those around her. The first part in this process, and the most significant event as well, is the letter which she receives from Darcy which explains and apologizes for all his actions. Reading it “with a strong prejudice against everything he might say, she began to account of what had happened at Netherfeild.” (Austen, 181).
Upon reading this letter she realizes how misinformed she is about Darcy and her prejudice begins to dissipate because she now understands Darcy’s motives and wants to know more about him.
Elisabeth’s “hatred had vanished long ago, and she had almost as long been ashamed of ever feeling dislike against him” (Austen, 233). Elisabeth now sees Darcy as a handsome well-respected man who is in love with her and she begins to realize that she is also in love with him. In a letter to her aunt she explains “I am the happiest creature in the world” (Austen, 340). Elisabeth has overcome her rancourous attitude toward Darcy and has found true love; a love that will never die.
It is only when Darcy and Elisabeth overcome their pride and prejudice that they are able to find true love. Darcy prejudges Elisabeth based looks and social standing, Elisabeth in defence develops prejudice against Darcy, and due to their relations with each other they overcome these traits and fall in love. Society must learn to refrain from judging individuals solely on assets, appearance or social standing. It must learn to overcome its pride and prejudice.
Courtney from Study Moose
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