Self-Esteem, Chauvinism and Predisposition in Pride and Prejudice Pride and Prejudice is a novel written by Jane Austen and was published in 1813. Pride as defined by Gove is the quality or the feeling of a person who is keenly or extremely aware of his own excellence and superiority (636). Pride may also imply either justified or unjustified self-esteem as what one regards as a merit or superiority, as the feeling manifests itself either in proper self-respect and distaste for what is beneath one’s standards or in inordinate and arrogant conceit (Gove 636). Pride can also be depicted as a sin or vice and the antithesis of humility (Gove 636). Conversely, prejudice as highlighted by Pettigrew, Fredrickson and Glazer is being done on something you are not up on (1). Likewise, prejudice is also illustrated as a vagrant opinion without visible means of support (Pettigrew et al. 1). In simple terms, prejudice is opinion without judgment (Pettigrew et al. 1). This novel revolves on the life experiences of Elizabeth, second to the eldest of the children of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. This paper will tackle the role of Elizabeth in the novel entitled, Pride and Prejudice and the characters that influenced the development of her character.
The novel gives a picture of the early 19th century in England where people had the notion that for women to have a better life must choose a better man, that is, someone who would give her the life of a princess. Hence, during that time, women marry men even if they do not love him; they are only usually after their wealth. Elizabeth is one of the principal characters in the novel; she is the younger sister of Jane and the second to the eldest of the children of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet (Austen 1-323).
Concern for the values and morals of the young is an enduring adult preoccupation (Ryan and Lickona 3). Though it was not directly mentioned that Elizabeth was influenced by the older individuals in the novel; it was implied that the development of the character of Elizabeth is molded by the influence of the characteristics of the other characters in the aforementioned novel, which is mostly older than her.
One of the principal values mentor of Elizabeth is her sister, Jane. Jane is a loving sister who can de relied on for her sincerity. They both confide secrets with each other, the reason why, Elizabeth knows every detail in her life, hence, at the novel, most of her decisions were endeavored not only on what she desires but also its effect on her sister (Austen 1-323). Jane easily forgives individuals who have wronged her for the reason that she fails to see the evil in others, and on this aspect, Elizabeth is the one who is protecting her and fighting for her (Austen 1-323). On the contrary, seeing the consequences of how Jane concealed what she truly feels, Elizabeth tries to always express what she really feels (Austen 1-323).
Another important person in the life of Elizabeth is Darcy, who is her love interest. At first, they do not see eye to eye on things for just like Bingley who is the love interest of Jane, Darcy is a wealthy man and a close friend of Bingley (Austen 1-323). Darcy quickly judges other people without giving that person time to show who he or she really is. He prejudged Elizabeth’s sister, Jane, with the good intention though of saving his friend, Bingley from a woman who thinks only like his friend because of his wealth (Austen 1-323). This trait of Darcy moves Elizabeth to show him the truth that her sister really loves Bingley. Conversely, because of the wit and charms of Elizabeth, Darcy finds himself falling in love with Elizabeth, though she rejects him because of the negative things she has heard about him, Darcy teaches her to analyze what she really feels and in the long run, he helped her overcome pride and prejudice (Austen 1-323).
Lastly, another major influence in the character of Elizabeth is Mrs. Gardiener who is without a doubt impressed by upper class. She is a significant figure in the life of Elizabeth and Darcy for she is the one who facilitated the analysis of what Elizabeth really feels towards Darcy, which then after ups and downs and being confronted with challenges, the couple married and finally had their own happy ending (Austen 1-323).
In conclusion, who individuals are and what they have become are usually shaped by the people surrounding them and with the case of Elizabeth, her attitude towards things, her decisions and her overall life experiences were greatly influenced by Jane, Darcy and Mrs. Gardiener.
Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. United States of America: Harvard University Press, 2010.
Gove, Philip B. Dictionary of Synonyms. Massachusetts, United States of America: Merriam-Webster Inc., 1984.
Pettigrew, Thomas F., Fredrickson, George M. and Glazer, Nathan. Prejudice. United States of America: Harvard University Press, 1982.
Ryan, Kevin and Lickona, Thomas. Character Development in schools and beyond. United States of America: The Council for Research in Values and Philosophy, 1992.