Illustration of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy with neutral expressions on their faces

Pride and Prejudice

by Jane Austen

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In Pride and Prejudice, why does Charlotte excuse Darcy's pride?

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The answer to this question can be found at the end of Chapter 5, when Charlotte and Lizzie discuss the ball and what happened to Lizzie when Darcy refused to dance with her. Whilst Lizzie and her mother are happy and quick to dismiss Mr. Darcy as a very disagreable and proud man, Charlotte, by contrast, points out that pride can also be a virtue, and that Mr. Darcy may have a right to be proud. Note her reasoning:

"His pride," said Miss Lucas, "does not offend me so much as pride often does, because there is an excuse for it. One cannot wonder that so very fine a young man, with family, fortune, everything in his favour, should think highly of himself. If I may so express it, he has a right to be proud."

Charlotte therefore offers an opposing view, that sees pride as something that can be a virture rather than a vice, which introduces pride as a key theme in the novel about which there are many different perspectives. Of course, many characters in the novel, not least Lizzie herself, show themselves to be proud, but it is the reader's job to judge whether they are excessively proud or not.

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