Pride and Prejudice

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Pride is a constant presence in the characters' attitudes and treatment of each other, coloring their judgments and leading them to make rash mistakes. Pride blinds Elizabeth and Darcy to their true feelings about each other. Darcy's pride about his social rank makes him look down on anyone not in his immediate circle. Elizabeth, on the other hand, takes so much pride in her ability to judge others that she refuses to revise her opinion even in the face of clearly contradictory evidence. This is why she despises the good-hearted Darcy for so long, but initially admires the lying Wickham. Yet while Pride and Prejudice implies that no one is ever completely free of pride, it makes it clear that with the proper moral upbringing one may overcome it to lead a life of decency and kindness. In the end, the two lovers are able to overcome their pride by helping each other see their respective blind spots. Darcy sheds his snobbery, while Elizabeth learns not to place too much weight on her own judgments.

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Pride Quotes in Pride and Prejudice

Below you will find the important quotes in Pride and Prejudice related to the theme of Pride.
Chapter 3 Quotes
His character was decided. He was the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world, and everybody hoped that he would never come there again.
Related Characters: Fitzwilliam Darcy
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:

Elizabeth is about to overhear Darcy say to Bingley that Elizabeth isn't pretty enough for him to ask her to dance, so he'll prefer to ask no one. Darcy has acted proud and aloof throughout the dance, and this is the last straw for Elizabeth. Here, Austen screens a description of Darcy through the opinions of "everybody" at the party. Elizabeth may be making a relatively quick judgment about Darcy's character, but at least she is not alone in her judgment. Indeed, the fact that certain prejudices are shared by the majority of people in this small community is often what will allow them to be sustained for so long.

Darcy's coldness is not just looked down upon by the partygoers because he is rude; his attitude also suggests that he does not consider the others worthy of his attentions or of his politeness. As a result, their natural response is to act the same way towards him. Pride often kicks in, in the book, as a defense mechanism to prevent feelings of shame or inferiority, and here is the first major example of such a reaction.


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Chapter 7 Quotes
Darcy had at first scarcely allowed her to be pretty ... But no sooner had he made it clear to himself and his friends that she hardly had a good feature in her face, than he began to find it was rendered uncommonly intelligent by the beautiful expression of her dark eyes ... he was forced to acknowledge her figure to be light and pleasing; and in spite of his asserting that her manners were not those of the fashionable world, he was caught by their easy playfulness.
Related Characters: Elizabeth (Eliza, Lizzy) Bennet, Fitzwilliam Darcy
Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:

Elizabeth has walked three miles to Netherfield in order to look after Jane, who has fallen ill, and Darcy - who is at Netherfield as well - is impressed both by her insistence on running after her sister (something that other characters find unladylike) and by how pretty she looks as she arrives, anxious and eyes shining. Darcy too had leapt to conclusions the first time he had seen Elizabeth, affected by the assumptions of his class and social environment that found her wanting in several aspects. Now, however, when he considers her more closely, he finds that she is pleasing both physically and in terms of her spirit and intelligence. While this passage is an example of Darcy's slow maturation, as he opens his mind to the possibility of liking Elizabeth, it also underlines the way men saw and judged women at the time, frankly and even like property that they might be interested in.

Chapter 29 Quotes
Her air was not conciliating, nor was her manner of receiving them such as to make her visitors forget their inferior rank. She was not rendered formidable by silence; but whatever she said was spoken in so authoritative a tone, as marked her self-importance
Related Characters: Lady Catherine de Bourgh
Page Number: 159
Explanation and Analysis:

Mr. Collins has, smirkingly, warned Elizabeth that it's just as well that she has only a simple dress, since Lady Catherine enjoys making distinctions of class and rank even more obvious than they already are. Now, having arrived at the home for dinner, Elizabeth realizes just how true that is. Lady Catherine seems to almost gloat about her social position - and about how much higher her position is than that of her guests. Rather than make them feel comfortable and at home, she prefers to act as if class differences are a natural mark of hierarchy in character and worth as well.

Elizabeth isn't the kind of person who would allow such attitudes to embarrass or shame her. She holds her head high in such situations: while Lady Catherine's pride is boastful, Elizabeth is shown to be elegant and proper.

Chapter 33 Quotes
If his own vanity, however, did not mislead him, he was the cause, his pride and caprice were the cause, of all that Jane had suffered, and still continued to suffer. He had ruined for a while every hope of happiness for the most affectionate, generous heart in the world; and no one could say how lasting an evil he might have inflicted.
Related Characters: Elizabeth (Eliza, Lizzy) Bennet, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Jane Bennet
Page Number: 182
Explanation and Analysis:

Speaking with Colonel Fitzwilliams, Elizabeth learns that Darcy - a friend of his - has intervened to stop Bingley from making an "impudent marriage." Elizabeth realizes that he must be talking about Bingley's relationship with her sister Jane. She is appalled, and immediately takes the opportunity to condemn Darcy with all her judgment. She particularly criticizes his pride, as she assumes that he considers the Bennet girls too lowly and unworthy for a gentleman like himself and his friend Bingley.

Although this understanding of marriage was relatively common at the time, Elizabeth takes a quite different opinion. She argues internally that Jane's character is so unblemished that anyone would be lucky to marry her, regardless of his fortune. It is Jane's unquestionable goodness that makes Darcy's actions such a crime in Elizabeth's eyes (not to mention her sense of pride in response to the notion that her family is more unworthy than others). Darcy sinks even lower in her estimation, even as she decides not to try to confirm her assumption by talking to Fitzwilliam.

Chapter 34 Quotes
"In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you." ... He spoke well; but there were feelings besides those of the heart to be detailed; and he was not more eloquent on the subject of tenderness than of pride. His sense of her inferiority—of its being a degradation—of the family obstacles which had always opposed to inclination, were dwelt on with a warmth which seemed due to the consequence he was wounding
Related Characters: Fitzwilliam Darcy (speaker), Elizabeth (Eliza, Lizzy) Bennet
Page Number: 185
Explanation and Analysis:

Darcy arrives at the Bennet home to make an offer of marriage to Elizabeth, something that shocks her entirely. Although Elizabeth admires Darcy's eloquence, her pride is deeply hurt by just how much he lingers on everything that counts against her, everything in spite of which he still, strangely, loves and wants to marry her. Darcy says that his feelings are real and strong, but then he lingers over her inferior social situation and her embarrassing family. As he enumerates the list, he seems cold and calculating: his first words about his "ardent" admiration and love begin to seem totally out of place, if not a painful joke.

We see here, however, just how knotty a problem it was at this time for people from even slightly different social stations to marry. Darcy believes he is simply being honest, and that by showing how society strives against such a marriage, he will flatter Elizabeth - since he still wants to marry her even so. But Elizabeth, proud as she is, cannot understand how Darcy can be both in love with her and conscious of her inferiority. Such an attitude towards a future partner utter disqualifies him from her consideration. Of course, Elizabeth already knows exactly what she thinks about Darcy, so it is doubtful that anything he would say would be considered positively or generously by her.

Chapter 36 Quotes
I, who have prided myself on my discernment!—I, who have valued myself on my abilities! who have often disdained the generous candour of my sister, and gratified my vanity in useless or blameable mistrust.—How humiliating is this discovery!—Yet, how just a humiliation! ... Pleased with the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other, on the very beginning of our acquaintance, I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away, where either were concerned. Till this moment, I never knew myself.
Related Characters: Elizabeth (Eliza, Lizzy) Bennet, Fitzwilliam Darcy, George Wickham
Page Number: 202
Explanation and Analysis:

Elizabeth has read Darcy's long letter explaining himself, and although she only slowly begins to realize its truth, she soon accepts it and then turns to a contemplation of her own character and of her own mistakes. This interior monologue, in which Elizabeth flits from thought to thought, is a kind of epiphany: thanks to the letter, she sees her past and those around her in an entirely new light. It is only now that Elizabeth understands the full implications of her prejudice. She had always thought this attitude superior to that of Jane's, because it allowed her to be a good judge of character and separate the good from the ill. Now, however, she recognizes that her mistrust was completely baseless, and that she would have done well to follow the unprejudiced attitude of her sister.

In addition, Elizabeth has to come to terms with the painful realization that she has acted precisely opposite to the way she should have, prizing one man over another and courting unsavory values as opposed to defensible ones. It was her pride, among other things, that led to her stubborn judgments of Darcy, as well as to her prejudice in favor of Wickham. Elizabeth's mistake is thus humiliating because of the consequences it has for how she has treated other people; but it is also so painful because she realizes only now just how little self-knowledge she really had.

Chapter 44 Quotes
When she saw him thus seeking the acquaintance and courting the good opinion of people with whom any intercourse a few months ago would have been a disgrace—when she saw him thus civil, not only to herself, but to the very relations whom he had openly disdained ... the difference, the change was so great, and struck so forcibly on her mind, that she could hardly restrain her astonishment from being visible.
Related Characters: Elizabeth (Eliza, Lizzy) Bennet, Fitzwilliam Darcy
Page Number: 251
Explanation and Analysis:

Darcy has come to see Elizabeth and Jane with their relatives the Gardiners, and has even brought his sister Georgiana. The Gardiners are just the example of the kind of inferior relations that Darcy had mentioned when making his awkward proposal of marriage. Now that Elizabeth has rid herself of her prejudice against Darcy, she sees his tone and actions with new eyes: but it also seems true that Darcy's own attitude has shifted. A great part of the reason that Elizabeth had long wanted nothing to do with Darcy was that he looked down on her and her family, making her natural, even defensive feeling of pride kick in: now that reason seems no longer to exist. We are meant now to take Elizabeth's judgments at her word, having witnessed her epiphany and painful acceptance of the fact that she judged too quickly before. Now, instead, she pays close attention to what surrounds her so as to make the most accurate judgment possible.

Chapter 48 Quotes
The death of your daughter would have been a blessing in comparison of this ... They agree with me in apprehending that this false step in one daughter will be injurious to the fortunes of all the others; for who, as Lady Catherine herself condescendingly says, will connect themselves with such a family?
Related Characters: Mr. Collins (speaker), Mr. Bennet, Lydia Bennet, Lady Catherine de Bourgh
Page Number: 281
Explanation and Analysis:

Mr. Collins has written a letter of condolences to the Bennet family, but he hardly seems to strike a tone of compassion or understanding. Instead, his attitude seems almost gleeful, as he carefully delineates just how Lydia's ruinous decision will affect not only her life, but also the prospects of each of her sisters.

Lady Catherine, of course, should be known to us by now as proud in the worst ways, acutely aware of subtle class differences and eager to maintain those differences in any way possible - without taking to account more significant (at least in Austen's view) elements of character and morality that should support, not compete with, class distinctions. That Mr. Collins has embraced such a viewpoint speaks, in one sense, to his own sense of pride: having been refused marriage by one of the Bennet sisters, he takes some satisfaction in seeing the family fall from grace. But his attitude is also meant to stand in for societal opinions in general. In this environment, great danger can stem from one young woman's careless actions. Marriage for these women is not just a frivolous matter; without other means of freedom, it determines what kind of lives they can hope to have, so anything that jeopardizes their marriage prospects must be treated with the utmost seriousness.

Chapter 52 Quotes
They owed the restoration of Lydia, her character, every thing, to him. Oh! how heartily did she grieve over every ungracious sensation she had ever encouraged, every saucy speech she had ever directed towards him. For herself she was humbled; but she was proud of him. Proud that in a cause of compassion and honour, he had been able to get the better of himself.
Related Characters: Elizabeth (Eliza, Lizzy) Bennet, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Lydia Bennet
Page Number: 309
Explanation and Analysis:

Elizabeth learns from Mrs. Gardiner's letter that it was in fact Darcy who negotiated Lydia's and Wickham's marriage and paid Wickham off, asking only that Mr. Gardiner take the credit so that his generosity might remain secret. Now Darcy grows in even greater estimation in Elizabeth's eyes. She is once again reminded of how she allowed too-quick prejudices to cloud her opinion of him, whereas now she has subtle but concrete proof of Darcy's goodness and humility.

Elizabeth recognizes, too, that pride doesn't always have to be a vice: you can be humble yourself but proud of other people, in which case the sentiment becomes virtuous. She knows that Darcy isn't perfect - he has the tendency to be proud just like her - but she realizes that he has conquered his innate sense of class differences in order to help a family in desperate need. As a result she only admires him more.

Chapter 56 Quotes
I have said no such thing. I am only resolved to act in that manner, which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness, without reference to you, or to any person so wholly unconnected with me.
Related Characters: Elizabeth (Eliza, Lizzy) Bennet (speaker), Lady Catherine de Bourgh
Page Number: 338
Explanation and Analysis:

Lady Catherine de Bourgh claims that Elizabeth has tricked her nephew Darcy into proposing to her. She also demands that Elizabeth refuse any offer of marriage from Darcy, who is meant to marry Lady Catherine's daughter. Elizabeth here refuses. She is shocked by Lady Catherine's brute frankness and scheming attitude towards marriage, and in response to the suggestion that she is not "good enough" for Darcy, her natural pride kicks in to enough of an extent for her to hold her ground against the older woman.

Elizabeth claims here that Lady Catherine is meddling in affairs that do not concern her at all. Because she is from a wealthier background than Elizabeth, she seems to believe that she can say what she want, and holds that Elizabeth must out of shame bow to Lady Catherine's wishes. While the novel respects class differences to a certain extent, it also wishes to show how inappropriate such blatant displays of class friction can be, and how unpleasant they can become.

Chapter 58 Quotes
What do I not owe you! You taught me a lesson, hard indeed at first, but most advantageous. By you, I was properly humbled. I came to you without a doubt of my reception. You showed me how insufficient were all my pretensions to please a woman worthy of being pleased.
Related Characters: Fitzwilliam Darcy (speaker), Elizabeth (Eliza, Lizzy) Bennet
Page Number: 349
Explanation and Analysis:

Elizabeth and Darcy have finally met in private again, and Elizabeth breaks propriety to confess that she knows about all Darcy did for Lydia. She is willing to risk being overly frank because she wants Darcy to know just how much gratitude she has for him, and just how much her prejudiced feelings towards him have shifted since their last meeting. Darcy, in turn, is utterly gracious as he reflects on Elizabeth's refusal of his offer of marriage. The refusal was a blow to his pride, of course, but it helped him to realize just how much he needed to be humbled, just how much he needed to ease his sense of pride and entitlement. Elizabeth has grown in his estimation since he asked her to marry him, and both of them have learned important lessons in the meantime.

Chapter 59 Quotes
I know that you could be neither happy nor respectable, unless you truly esteemed your husband; unless you looked up to him as a superior. Your lively talents would place you in the greatest danger in an unequal marriage ... My child, let me not have the grief of seeing you unable to respect your partner in life.
Related Characters: Mr. Bennet (speaker), Elizabeth (Eliza, Lizzy) Bennet
Page Number: 356
Explanation and Analysis:

Mr. Bennet is initially shocked and confused when Elizabeth tells him the news of Darcy's proposal, and of her changing attitudes towards him. Indeed, his reaction and that of the entire Bennet family underline just how rare it is for someone's prejudices to change. But Mr. Bennet, unlike others, finds this change of heart a sign of Elizabeth's complexity of character, rather than of any kind of inconsistency.

Mr. Bennet has remained in the background for much of the novel. Here, though, we learn that he has a surprisingly nuanced understanding of what marriage means. He does not assume that men are naturally more intelligent and more witty than women: indeed, he clearly considers his daughter more clever and interesting than most. However, Mr. Bennet does see this quality as somewhat of a liability: he assumes that the man must always be considered superior in marriage, so the problem for Elizabeth becomes how she might find someone who is even more talented than she is. Mr. Bennet's remarks thus show a great deal of respect and care for his daughter, even as they also rely on certain assumptions about what an "equal" marriage entails that stem from sexist social realities.