Pride and Prejudice is a story of self-deception and the problem of the heroine is to undeceive herself. Comment.Pride and Prejudice is a story of self-deception and the problem of the heroine is...

Pride and Prejudice is a story of self-deception and the problem of the heroine is to undeceive herself. Comment.

Pride and Prejudice is a story of self-deception and the problem of the heroine is to undeceive herself. Comment.

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lmetcalf's profile pic

lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

One of the challenges of the novels which makes the story so rich is that Elizabeth isn't really self-deceived if you understand that to mean that she is lying to herself about Wickham or about Darcy.  In actuality, Darcy is incredibly rude at the first dance.  He insults her looks and is very stand-offish.  Wickham is very charming.  She has absolutely no reason to think anything else about these men based on her first impressions.  It isn't as if she suspects that Wickham is lying, but chooses to believe him anyway.  It isn't as if she suspects that Darcy is merely shy in new social situations, but she chooses to assume the worst.  She has no evidence to the contrary that her opinions may be wrong.  As readers, we react as she does.  The self-deception part comes later when she assumes that even with evidence to the contrary that Darcy isn't sincere in his first proposal.  She must be presented with more information so that her understanding of the whole situation can help her come to an honest understanding of her own feelings as well as his.

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Self-deception is a defensive measure.  Elizabeth does not want to like Darcy, so she tricks herself (or decieves herself) into thinking certain things about him.  Then she won't have to admit the truth that she really does like him.

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Elizabeth's initial prejudice against Darcy because of her false impressions of him in her often abbreviated encounters with him and the influence that she allows Wickham's opinion to have upon her make this novel so very relevant today in a world of many false assumptions.  Ironically, too, it is Elizabeth's disdain for Darcy's disregard for the happiness of his inferiors that is similarly her own fault as she has too early disregarded his feelings for her because of her self-deception.

herappleness's profile pic

M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Absolutely. Elizabeth's main problem is that she idealizes and generalizes things. She is a very independent thinker, as she is a woman who does not accept the conventions and expectations of her time as the rules by which she would lead her life.

Hence, she has created a series of personal paradigms by which she leads her life. One of them is her reluctance to marry for the sake of securing a place in society. She insists in that she will marry for love, no matter what.

Considering these characteristics, we can see that Elizabeth can be quite stubborn in her ideals. Another of those ideals is that some people are proud just because they think themselves better than others. She cannot accept the possibility that pride may arise as a product of self-esteem, or self-satisfaction. To Elizabeth, the what looks good is good and what looks bad is bad- No questions asked.

This is the reason why Elizabeth is so easily led by the likes of Wickham, who he declares to be basically a victim of Darcy. Similarly, she sees Darcy as the enemy simply because he is rich and conceited. It takes a long while for her to realize that looks and attitudes are deceiving.

Once she finally realizes it, she has to swallow her pride and accept that she has made a terrible mistake in taking people just for face value. So, concisely speaking, Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice definitely deals with self-deception and the problem of Elizabeth is certainly her tendency to fool herself into believing in what she sees at first sight.

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