An overly proud person looks down on people and as long as he looks down, he cannot see that which is above him. On the other hand, an individual with too little pride has an attitude of mediocrity and this hinders self-realization. Disproportionate pride blinds moral judgment, creates intolerance and deters relationships. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin is a novel that portrays individual characters who demonstrate a lack of balance in the way they perceive themselves and as a result they create ruin. Pride and Prejudice tells the most cherished love stories that take place in the small English village of Longbourne, England, and it is primarily the story of relationships with interactions of characters that suffer and cause suffering because of disproportionate pride.
Elizabeth Bennet, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Lady Catherine Debourgh are characters who have excessive pride that blinds their moral judgment and causes damage to their relationships. Charles Bingley, Jane Bennett and Charlotte Lucas are Austenâ€™s characters who possess an attitude of mediocrity that compromises their ability to maximize fulfillment in their lives. Elizabeth Bennet, the protagonist of the novel is the second daughter in the Bennet family who is lovely, clever, honest, virtuous and witty. In spite of her admirable qualities, Elizabeth allows excessive pride to create a destructive prejudice towards Fitzwilliam Darcy, the son of a wealthy and well-established family, and this prejudice causes Elizabeth to jeopardize his love. From early on, Elizabeth demonstrates how her pride leads her to misjudge Darcy when he shows an interest to dance with her.Elizabethâ€™s pride causes her to react defensively and refuse Darcyâ€™s honest advances and this is seen when she snidely remarks that, â€œMr.
Darcy is all politenessâ€, thus misjudging him and his genuine feelings for her. Elizabethâ€™s pride causes her to be reserved and drives her to prove that she is different from her boisterous younger sisters who take any opportunity to dance with a male (Austen, 26). Elizabethâ€™s aloofness further hinders her from developing a relationship with Darcy.
Darcy continues to be enamored by Elizabethâ€™s charm and he does not stop pursuing her even though excessive pride causes Elizabeth to discourage him from her. In response to Elizabethâ€™s conceit Darcy who is generally polite does however become rude and haughty to Elizabeth as a defense mechanism. As a result of Elizabethâ€™s haughtiness, Darcyâ€™s positive character is stymied and can only reveal itself in the middle of the novel (Nardin, 6). Elizabethâ€™s snobbish pride hinders her from understanding her friend Charlotte Lucasâ€™s best interests in regard to her desire to marry Mr.
Collins. Elizabeth â€œprides herself on being a perceptive â€œstudier of character,â€ as Mr. Bingley calls her, but how well does she really know her very good friend Charlotteâ€¦â€ when she â€œresponds with amazement and horrorâ€ upon hearing that Charlotte wants to marry a man who is â€œdullâ€, â€œpompousâ€ and â€œphysically unattractiveâ€. Elizabethâ€™s excessive pride blinds her from recognizing that Charlotte is â€œnot much interested in men and very much interested in marriageâ€ (Moler, 26). Elizabeth could have ruined the prospects of Charlotteâ€™s marriage because of her self-importance in the way she misinterprets her friendâ€™s romantic needs.
Elizabeth who goes through much agonizing distress in her relationship with Darcy ultimately admits that she had a lack of self -knowledge and clouded judgment due to excessive pride. Elizabeth cries out â€œhow despicably have I acted..
. I who have valued myself on my own abilities! …vanity not love has been my follyâ€ (Austen, 208). Elizabeth who is â€œshocked and humiliated into the knowledge of her moral blindness and its causesâ€ (Ibid, 209) is finally able to recognize Darcyâ€™s real character and the good side of him which she has never been able to appreciate because of her own lack of balanced pride.
It is only through the recognition of the need to achieve her own clarity of self -perception, that Elizabeth is ready to begin a healthy relationship with Darcy.Fitzwilliam Darcy also demonstrates a lack of balance in the way he perceives his esteem and as a result, he creates ruin in his relationship with Elizabeth. Darcy was so selfish and arrogant towards Elizabeth in respect to showing his admiration for her that he was â€œparticularly careful that no sign of admiration should now escape him, nothing that could elevate her (Elizabeth) with the hope of influencing his felicityâ€ (Moler, 23).Elizabeth rejects Darcyâ€™s proposal because he, â€œscarcely spoke ten words to herâ€ and instead pompously keeps his head in a book.