In Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, what are some examples demonstrating that pride in self is necessary?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen takes several opportunities to show that not all pride is a vice. Instead, she asserts that pride in oneself, especially when it is justified, is a virtue. The first instance we see Austen take the opportunity to philosophize about the virtue of pride takes place towards the beginning of the novel, at Netherfield. When Elizabeth remains at Netherfield with her sick sister, Darcy asserts that pride is not necessarily a weakness. When he states that "where there is a real superiority of mind, pride will be always under good regulation," he asserts that those who are wise enough and well-educated enough in virtues will always be able to moderate their pride. Furthermore, a wise person aught to feel pride in their virtues (Ch. 11, Vol. 1). Later, while Elizabeth reads Darcy's letter, Austen asserts that Darcy's pride was not unjustified. Elizabeth feels ashamed of her prejudice against Darcy and realizes that she never did see him act without principle, justness, religion or morality, proving that his pride in himself was not unjustified (Ch. 13, Vol. 2). In this same scene, Elizabeth even speaks of how she "prided [herself in her] discernment" (Ch. 13, vol.12). Even though pride in discernment or knowledge is a positive thing, sadly, Elizabeth was wrong about herself.

Darcy's pride in his own virtues is later confirmed by his housekeeper at Pemberley who praises his kindness, his temper, and his affection for his sister. The housekeeper even denies his pride, saying that people mistake his reserve for pride instead (Ch. 1, Vol. 3).

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