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Class Issues in "Pride and Prejudice"In "Pride and Prejudice," is the...

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hadjer | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted February 9, 2008 at 9:49 AM via web

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Class Issues in "Pride and Prejudice"

In "Pride and Prejudice," is the resentment Elizabeth feels toward Darcy a way to protect herself because of the class disparity?

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malibrarian | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted February 9, 2008 at 10:16 AM (Answer #2)

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That might have been part of it, later in the story, but from the very first time she saw him, she was struck by his arrogance and pride and couldn't imagine how anyone would enjoy spending time in his company.  Remember, too, that she overhears him speaking to Bingley about how he wouldn't want to dance with anyone at the ball, particularly Elizabeth herself!

Elizabeth was very prideful herself and very protective of her family's feelings.  She was also well-aware of the class disparity between herself and Darcy, but she was probably more resentful toward him for his lack of graciousness to those of lower rank, and so really didn't give a hoot what he thought of her...until later, when he starts to act like a decent human being when he finds her by accident at his estate.

Check the link below for more information about Elizabeth.  Good luck!

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sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 9, 2008 at 3:01 PM (Answer #3)

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I think this is an unfair portrayal of Elizabeth.  As she proclaims in her infamous argument with Lady Catherine, Elizabeth does not recognize class disparity between herself and Darcy.  Here is the quote:

[Lady Catherine] "If you were sensible of your own good, you would not wish to quit the sphere in which you have been brought up."

[Elizabeth] "In marrying your nephew, I should not consider myself as quitting that sphere. He is a gentleman; I am a gentleman's daughter; so far we are equal."

Elizabeth goes on to acknowledge that her other family connections may be lower, but that their position is not a consideration in this case.  Therefore, Lizzy feels she is equal to Mr. Darcy.

Even without these quotes, it is clear that Elizabeth has no other resentments that would support this conclusion.  She does not resent Bingley, for instance, nor does she show resentment towards Lady Catherine for her riches.  Her behavior towards Darcy and Lady Catherine is always directly connected to her perception of their pride and, as she says to Darcy, "wilfull disdain for the feelings of others."

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malibrarian | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted February 9, 2008 at 5:35 PM (Answer #4)

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I'm sorry...It was not my intent to be "unfair" to Elizabeth.  But she is just as guilty of "pride and prejudice" as Darcy is, although perhaps not to the extent he is.  As I stated in my answer,

"...she was probably more resentful toward him for his lack of graciousness to those of lower rank, and so really didn't give a hoot what he thought of her..."

He behaved abominably at the beginning of the story and she was resentful of that, which is what I was trying to say in my initial answer to this question. If I was unclear or unfair, then I apologize.

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Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted February 9, 2008 at 5:49 PM (Answer #5)

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Jen-  I do not think there is any reason to apologize.  Both Elizabeth and Darcy are guilty of the sins of pride and prejudice.

On Elizabeth's part, think how she defends Wickham!  Here, she displays prejudice in believing that the upper class is without sin.  Later, think of how she is beastly to Darcy when he's done so much behind the scenes to help Lydia. 

I think a close reading will show that both characters are equally guilty.  Class, in this highly structured society, often inhibits clear thinking.  Yet it is character, not riches, or lack thereof, that determines integrity.  To explain just a bit futher, wealth doesn't make a person good (Lady Catherine) and poverty doesn't make a person good (Collins). 

 

 

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 11, 2008 at 8:00 AM (Answer #6)

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Lady Catherine has a lot to do with this prejudice in pointing out that Elizabeth is a governess...not a position held by most noble women. 

Elizabeth does display prejudice against Darcy for his uppity attitudes and they think differently.  Elizabeth is a deeper person that Darcy...she (at least in my interpretation of her) thinks and feels more deeply than he does...she has more depth and maybe more nobility in her.  She is more human and treats others in a more humane way that he.

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lnorton | College Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted February 14, 2008 at 6:07 AM (Answer #7)

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I think there's an argument to be made that, while  both of the main characters suffer from "pride and prejudice," Darcy is ultimately the one seeking protection due to class disparity -- consider his urgings that Bingley give up a potential marriage to Jane.

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted February 14, 2008 at 1:34 PM (Answer #8)

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I think there's an argument to be made that, while  both of the main characters suffer from "pride and prejudice," Darcy is ultimately the one seeking protection due to class disparity -- consider his urgings that Bingley give up a potential marriage to Jane.

But doesn't Darcy object to Bingley's relationship with Jane because of the behavior of her family more than because of her social status? In his letter to Lizzy, he points out how loud her mother is, how flirty her younger sisters are, and how indulgent her father is. He must be thinking that the apple can't fall far from the tree.

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Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted February 14, 2008 at 3:15 PM (Answer #9)

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I think there's an argument to be made that, while  both of the main characters suffer from "pride and prejudice," Darcy is ultimately the one seeking protection due to class disparity -- consider his urgings that Bingley give up a potential marriage to Jane.

But doesn't Darcy object to Bingley's relationship with Jane because of the behavior of her family more than because of her social status? In his letter to Lizzy, he points out how loud her mother is, how flirty her younger sisters are, and how indulgent her father is. He must be thinking that the apple can't fall far from the tree.

I think that's right, Linda.  It was behavior, not money, that Darcy objects to.  He is unimpressed by money...Lady Catherine's means nothing to him.  I think Austen takes pains to show how guilty both are of internal issues of pride and prejudice; neither has anything to do with want or lack of money for either Elizabeth or Darcy. 

 

 

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 5, 2010 at 6:54 AM (Answer #10)

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I agree with sullymonster in #3: I don´t really think Lizzie believes she is significantly "below" Darcy in terms of class and ranking. Indeed, she shows in her character through the course of the novel that class is not the be all and end all of her life - it doesn´t determine or shape her choices in the same way that it does to other characters. Mr. Collins, for example, is consumed by the "patronage" of Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and acts completely to please her. Elizabeth is much more of a free spirit in this sense, and dislikes Darcy for his arrogance and pride, rather than any subconscious form of class envy.

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 5, 2010 at 7:01 AM (Answer #11)

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Elizabeth may have not felt class disparity against Lady Catherine because she saw her as an equal, particularly in the case that they are both women and Elizabeth was quite a comfortable woman in her own skin.

With Darcy is different: He IS a man, and men were considered already first class citizens versus women who understood their position as second class citizens. Therefore, I indeed think that her affect for Darcy was a way to defend herself from him, being not only an aristocrat male, but a quite haughty one to boot.

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