Pride And Prejudicepsychology Essay Example
Pride And Prejudicepsychology Essay Example

Pride And Prejudicepsychology Essay Example

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  • Published: April 7, 2017
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Jane Austen’s famous novel Pride and Prejudice offers a very interesting psychological analysis of the social and interpersonal relationships during nineteenth century. The main themes the book treats of are already contained in the title: pride and prejudice.

Austen investigates the way in which pride, intolerance and prejudice influence and affect the relationships between people.The main couple in the novel is thus that of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, who are both detained by pride and prejudice in their relationship to one another: Elizabeth sees the reserved and proud manner of Darcy as an indication of haughtiness and judges him accordingly, while in his turn Darcy sees her as inferior because of her family’s social position. Thus, the relationship between Jane and Mr.

Bingley is often ignored by both readers


and critics, who focus mostly on the more complicated one between Elizabeth and Darcy. However, Austen does lay an emphasis on the characters of both Jane and Bingley and on the type of love that unites them.The contrast between Jane and Elizabeth, and that between Darcy and Bingley is obvious. If Elizabeth for example, is witty and insightful when it comes to judging the people around her, Jane seems very simple and innocent, and incapable of seeing the true character of the others.

In spite of this, it is Elizabeth who is proven wrong in the end, with respect to many situations and persons, as in the case of her prejudice against Darcy and his intentions. Viewed in this light, although on the surface the relation between Jane and Bingley seems too reserved and not passionate enough, it is nevertheless the model that Austen sets i

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the novel.Bingley and Jane actually illustrate the way in which a relationship between two people should be, and unveils the mistakes that both Lizzy and Darcy make when they try to approach each other. Thus, both the characters of Jane and Bingley and the innocent way in which their relationship is formed offer a model that Austen favors against the pride and prejudice displayed by Lizzy and Darcy.

The two parallel relationships are permanently contrasted. While Jane and Bingley approach one another with reserve but with sincerity and openness, Lizzy and Darcy are prejudiced against one another and blinded by pride.As David Manoghan observes in his study of Jane Austen’s work called Intelligence in Pride and Prejudice, Jane and Bingley’s relationship develops with ease and naturalness as opposed to that between their friends: “While Darcy refuses to dance with Elizabeth at the Meryton Assembly, Bingley dances twice with Jane. From that point on their relationship is one of approach and acceptance in contrast to the approach and rejection pattern that characterizes all meetings between Darcy and Elizabeth.Thus, at the very moment when Elizabeth is busily engaged in repudiating Darcy at the Netherfield ball, Bingley and Jane pass by ‘dancing together.

’ The ease with which Bingley and Jane draw together, however, is not so much intended to offer a contrast to the difficulties which beset Darcy and Elizabeth as to make a comment on them. Darcy and Elizabeth are kept apart by the belief that a deep social rift lies between them. Bingley and Jane illustrate how mistaken they are.Although Bingley, who ‘inherited property to the amount of nearly an hundred thousand pounds from his

father,’ is much wealthier than Jane, he does not regard himself as her social superior.

” (Bloom, 73) Jane and Bingley are made exemplary by Austen because they are capable of perception of the others without being socially biased. With every ball and every new encounter, they draw closer to one another and succumb to the natural attraction they feel. They always talk a little apart from the rest of society when they are together and do not feel the need to hide or dissimulate their feelings.The only thing that reduces the intensity of their relationship is the fact that they are both reserved and modest. Although Bingley is at first influenced by Darcy, who convinces him that Jane has no true feelings for him and consequently leaves her, it is obvious that he acts thus only because he trusts Mr.

Darcy’s judgment more than his own. In her turn, Jane cannot perceive the fact that Miss Bingley is the one that interferes with their relationship and keeps Bingley away from her. Darcy and Lizzy prove to be more intelligent in their perception of the truth, but especially of the negative things.They are naturally more suspicious and critical of the others, and this makes them commit serious mistakes. Thus, if Lizzy and Darcy’s relation is thwarted at first by their own prejudices, Jane and Bingley’s is only detained because they find themselves in a maze of influences and interests.

The characters of both Bingley and Jane are very significant in the construction of the novel. Bingley is opposed to Darcy in most respects: he is well-mannered and amiable, open and unaffected: “Mr. Bingley was good

looking and gentlemanlike; he had a pleasant countenance, and easy, unaffected manners. (Austen, 5) Jane is described in a similar manner both by the author and by the free indirect discourse of all the other characters. What is most remarkable about Jane is her totally uncritical manner and her eagerness to make allowances for everyone else: "Miss Bennet was the only creature who could suppose there might be any extenuating circumstances in the case, unknown to the society of Hertfordshire; her mild and steady candour always pleaded for allowances, and urged the possibility of mistakes—but by everybody else Mr.Darcy was condemned as the worst of men.

"(Austen, 7) The uniformity of Jane’s feelings may seem dull at first sight and may shadow her importance in the novel to some extent. However, Austen makes it clear that her candor and absolute innocence give her a better insight than that of Lizzy in many situations. As Manoghan notices, Jane’s main role in the novel is to prove that involvement and subjectivity can help one’s real understanding more than objectiveness and critical attitude: “Jane is an innocent.Yet she teaches us that involvement can lead to a kind of perceptiveness inaccessible to those who understand clarity as something gained through avoiding involvement.

”(Bloom, 102) As accurate Elizabeth’s perception might seem in what regards the negative side of things, she frequently fails in seeing the good part in some persons, as Jane does. Thus, for example, Lizzy is deceived by Charlotte, whom she considers as her best friend, and does not see her for the limited and envious person she really is.Also, she favors Wickham instead of Darcy, without giving

the latter any chance. This deters her in preventing Lydia’s elopement with the superficial Wickham.

Jane in her turn fails to see the negative side of the others in most cases but does nevertheless do justice to Darcy for example. As Manoghan underlines, Jane is not merely a good-natured and simple character but a very intelligent one as she is the one who always allows that no judgment can be passed easily on people or their action since these might be a lot more complex that one can tell at first sight: Jane does not see that Mr. Wickham is a liar. But neither does she allow his allegation to subsume her own view of human goodness or her sense of what is probable and likely. In part this is because Jane cannot believe that Mr.

Bingley could be so wrong about his friend, Mr. Darcy, and in part because she just cannot conceive of deliberate wrongs. But primarily it is because of Jane's recognition, insisted upon in the face of all Elizabeth's powerful weapons of wit, observation, and laughter, that people and events are more complex and hidden than she can know.Austen has not created Jane as a simple and good-hearted character merely to provide a balance to the complexity and intelligence of her main heroine. When we consider what Jane is doing in the novel and why her author would think her creation neccessary, we must recognize that Jane is by nature neither objective nor perceptive and yet Austen has made her the one character in the novel who is just to Mr.

Darcy. ”(Bloom, 101) The characters of both Jane and Bingley,

as well as the relationship between them is veiled to a certain extent all through the novel.Jane is portrayed many times in Lizzy’s free indirect discourse and sometimes in the style of the letters that she sends to her sister, but rarely through direct presentation. The same is valid for the relationship between her and Bingley.

Their conversations are almost never reproduced by the author. In spite of this, the intensity of their feelings can still be perceived by the reader. Jane’s incipient love for Bingley for example, may not be obvious at first because she is cautious and praises him only as much as she praises everyone else: When Jane and Elizabeth were alone, the former, who had been cautious in her praise of Mr. Bingley before, expressed to her sister how very much she admired him. 'He is just what a young man ought to be,' said she, 'sensible, good humoured, lively; and I never saw such happy manners! --so much ease, with such perfect good breeding! ' “(Austen, 9) Lizzy notices this when she tells Jane that she will give her leave to like Bingley, since she has many times liked “stupider” persons: “‘Well, he certainly is very agreeable, and I give you leave to like him. You have liked many a stupider person.

'”(Austen, 9)In their first dialogue about Bingley, the two sisters are emphatically contrasted by Austen: Elizabeth appears ready to judge everyone and to look at the others with a critical eye even when she is not well informed of their character, while Jane is always apt to like everyone unconditionally: “'Oh! you are a great deal too apt

you know, to like people in general. You never see a fault in any body.All the world are good and agreeable in your eyes. I never heard you speak ill of a human being in my life. ' 'I would wish not to be hasty in censuring any one; but I always speak what I think. ' I know you do; and it is that which makes the wonder.

With your good sense, to be so honestly blind to the follies and nonsense of others! Affectation of candour is common enough;--one meets it every where. But to be candid* without ostentation or design--to take the good of every body's character and make it still better, and say nothing of the bad--belongs to you alone. And so, you like this man's sisters too, do you? Their manners are not equal to his. '”(Austen, 10) Also, Jane’s judgment is obviously not always blinded, although her goodness prevents her to think ill of someone whatever the case may be.She does perceive for instance, during her stay at London, that Bingley’s sister has changed her attitude but sets this change entirely to the latter’s love for Bingley: “'My dearest Lizzy will, I am sure, be incapable of triumphing in her better judgment, at my expence, when I confess myself to have been entirely deceived in Miss Bingley's regard for me.

But, my dear sister, though the event has proved you right, do not think me obstinate if I still assert, that, considering what her behaviour was, my confidence was as natural as your suspicion.I do not at all comprehend her reason for wishing to be intimate with me, but

if the same circumstances were to happen again, I am sure I should be deceived again. ”(Austen, 114) Jane is thus always extremely cautious in her criticism of everyone, and simply banishes the negative feelings in favor of the positive ones: “[…]and yet it should seem by her manner of talking, as if she wanted to persuade herself that he is really partial to Miss Darcy. I cannot understand it. If I were not afraid of judging harshly, I should be almost tempted to say, that there is a strong appearance of duplicity in all this.But I will endeavour to banish every painful thought, and think only of what will make me happy, your affection, and the invariable kindness of my dear uncle and aunt.

”(Austen, 115) Her first care is always that of protecting and sparing the others, even in urgent situations, such as Lydia’s elopement: “I am truly glad, dearest Lizzy, that you have been spared something of these distressing scenes; but now, as the first shock is over, shall I own that I long for your return? I am not so selfish, however, as to press for it, if inconvenient. ”(Austen, 204)Jane’s “sweetness of temper” does not only contribute to her image as a good and amiable person, but gives her the tact and temperance that Lizzy sometimes lacks, in spite of her many qualities: “Jane, who had only been withheld by the fear of giving alarm or inconvenience from expressing in her note how much she longed for such a visit, was delighted at her entrance. She was not equal, however, to much conversation, and when Miss Bingley left them together,

could attempt little besides expressions of gratitude for the extraordinary kindness she was treated with. (Austen, 22) As Gordon Hirsch points out, Jane’s most salient trait is her anxiety about being in any way unfair to the others or in judging them wrongly.

This sets her in opposition with Lizzy, who many times lets prejudice prevent her own judgment: “Of all the characters in the novel, Elizabeth's older sister, Jane, seems most identified with anxieties about harshly judging the self and others. Her principal trait is her reluctance to be critical of anyone. She is always ready to excuse and defend, or plead extenuating circumstances for whatever wrongs are done her by Mr.Bingley, his sister Caroline or Darcy. Jane would, for example, defend Charlotte's marriage to Collins, or argue that Darcy and Wickham have somehow simply misunderstood one another or been misinterpreted to one another.

To some extent, her reluctance to judge is a tonic to Elizabeth's defensive rush to judgment, and some of the things the less critical Jane says turn out to be largely true. ”(Hirsch, 71)The critic further remarks that Jane’s attitude may be considered as a reaction against rough judgment in general, and as a determination to hold such feelings as anger and hatred at bay: Austen suggests that Jane's “steady sense and sweetness of temper” (202; 2:19) are also to be understood as what we would now describe as a reaction formation against critical feelings and even anger directed against her own self and others. These critical ideas and feelings, in other words, are replaced in her conscious awareness by their opposites—feelings of placidity and general benevolence. Jane's anger is

a bit difficult to discern since she is “shut down,” not capable of expressing it. ”(Hirsch, 72)Jane is thus both Lizzy’s opposite in terms of character and temperament and the Austen’s illustration of the pure and unprejudiced attitude.

The prejudices related to social standing and fortune which are an important theme in the novel, no not exist for either Jane or Bingley. Also, the two suppress their pride when they relate to the others, and almost completely efface themselves as judges.Bingley in his turn is an effective counterpart of the proud Darcy. He shows his feelings for Jane openly although moderately, and does not think of her as his inferior the way Darcy does when he proposes to Lizzy: It was generally evident whenever they met, that he did admire her; and to her it was equally evident that Jane was yielding to the preference which she had begun to entertain for him from the first, and was in a way to be very much in love; but she considered with pleasure that it was not likely to be discovered by the world in general, since Jane united with great strength of feeling, a composure of temper and a uniform cheerfulness of manner, which would guard her from the suspicions of the impertinent. ”(Austen, 14) Lizzy even misjudges Bingley and thinks he is in part responsible for deserting Jane.She is shown in the end that Bingley had only been influenced by what he thought it was Darcy’s good advice.

When they talk at Pemberly, the feelings of Bingley for Jane appear as steady and true, as he remembers with regret the exact date when he

had last seen her: “He observed to her, at a moment when the others were talking together, and in a tone which had something of real regret, that it 'was a very long time since he had had the pleasure of seeing her;' and, before she could reply, he added, 'It is above eight months.We have not met since the 26th of November, when we were all dancing together at Netherfield. '”(Austen, 198) Bingley’s good nature pairs that of Jane, and he appears totally unprejudiced with regard to Jane’s social status or her family: "’If they had uncles enough to fill _all_ Cheapside,’ cried Bingley, ‘it would not make them one jot less agreeable. ’"(Austen, 27) Thus, it is evident that the couple Jane- Bingley serves the theme of the novel and not just the plot development.The two are the counterparts of Lizzy and Darcy and therefore the unbiased, unprejudiced characters, who, although innocent enough to be misguided by the others, are not capable of doing harm to anyone. The critical, liberal attitude of Darcy and Lizzy is opposed to the non-critical one of Jane and Bingley, and the author obviously favors the latter, showing that criticism can easily take the form of pride and prejudice.

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