What are some other points about "civility" that I could use for an argumentative Pride and Prejudice essay?
The topic question is "What is the significance of civility in Pride and Prejudice? How is civility valued in the text?". I also hope that you can look over my essay proposal (including the thesis and argument points), I've attached above; or you could use this link:
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In discussing the significance of civility in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, it is necessary to discuss, not only what civility is but how it has affected the development of the story and the final outcomes in the novel. I would use the present tense as this is a “discussion,” albeit “argumentative.” You can also discuss how society, in Jane Austen's era, believes that the upper classes have the right to treat others with disdain, based purely on social class. By way of example, Charlotte excuses Darcy's apparent rudeness and pride, as if he has a right to be so. Discussing this will also assist in a discussion of Darcy when bringing your essay to a conclusion.
The thesis statement is good because it does describe civility in context. However, it does need to be more defined in terms of your argument,; although all the relevant points are there. You could consider adding, more emphatically, how civility is a cause of much of the miscommunication between Elizabeth and Darcy and how lost opportunities change the course of events; for example,
Civility is presented in the novel as being more of an expectation than a choice, within the social ranks and, indeed, society itself to the point that communication and understanding is not the main aim but maintaining one’s decorum is far more valued, as evidenced in Darcy’s many misguided and consequently, misinterpreted, attempts to win over Elizabeth.
You can then refer to the points made in your previously answered question which explain Elizabeth's "immovable" dislike for Darcy: http://www.enotes.com/homework-help/what-significance-civility-pride-prejudice-how-472726
A good quote which reveals the change of heart once Elizabeth can see past Darcy’s demeanor, and strengthens your argument that civility, in Austen’s day, is more about conceited views and preformed judgments, based on social standing, would be:
“Elizabeth . . . gave him to understand that her sentiments had undergone so material a change, … to make her receive with gratitude and pleasure his present assurances.”
The reader needs to be aware that the expectation of a certain level of civility is perpetuated by those of a lower station and the upper classes themselves. The wealthy are permitted and expected to treat others civilly but dismissively and so they are allowed to do so. You are arguing that civility has the capacity to hamper the natural course of the story and, therefore, in terms of Austen's world, it can complicate life in general; making it, much of the time, ill-considered, inappropriate and unreasonable. You do need to make a strong argument as, with an argumentative essay, the intention is to persuade the reader. Therefore, be sure to stress the points about Mrs Hurst and Miss Bingley and say more about their treatment of Jane and their double standards; something which Jane Austen makes it her business to expose in her novels.
To then also argue about the potential merits of the civility that exist in Pride and Prejudice, helps the reader understand that civility does sometimes serve a purpose. Both Elizabeth and Darcy experience some self-development and subsequent awareness, without which, possibly, any relationship would have been doomed to failure.
The importance, therefore, of civility is not, as the wealthy believe, to protect them - and their money - but also to teach a humility that can only come from real respect, not feigned respect. Lady Catherine's presence in the Bennett household is a case in point ( as you discuss).
Ensure that you end from a position of strength by adapting your conclusion and by referring to the fact that, no amount of good standing or money guarantees that a person has any real moral integrity. Darcy has far more depth of character than his initial civility suggests and this can also be explored further in discussing how politeness on the surface, with no real intent, is in fact, an insult. Unless civility can lead to positive changes, it is not to be recommended simply to save someone's sensitivities. Elizabeth tries to make others understand that but, in the process, distances herself with her own brand of civility.
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