Austen chose Easter for the most significant turn in Pride and Prejudice.
Darcy comes to Rosings around Palm Sunday (likely Monday, since Darcy, unlike Mr. Elliot, wouldn’t travel on Sunday), that commemorates the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem in the days before his Passion.
Slavoj Zizek in The Sublime Object of Ideology included this subchapter about Jane Austen:
Hegel with Austen
Austen, not Austin: it is Jane Austen who is perhaps the only counterpart to Hegel in literature: Pride and Prejudice is the literary Phenomenology of Spirit; Mansfield Park the Science of Logic and Emma the Encyclopaedia… No wonder, then, that we find in Pride and Prejudice the perfect case of this dialectic of truth arising from misrecognition. Although they belong to different social classes – he is from an extremely rich aristocratic family, she from the impoverished middle classes – Elizabeth and Darcy feel a strong mutual attraction. Because of his pride, his love appears to Darcy as something unworthy; when he asks for Elizabeth’s hand he confesses openly his contempt for the world to which she belongs and expects her to accept his proposition as an unheard-of honour. But because of her prejudice, Elizabeth sees him as ostentatious, arrogant, and vain: his condescending proposal humiliates her, and she refuses him.
Darcy is about to give his letter to Lizzy.
This double failure, this mutual misrecognition, possesses a structure of a double movement of communication where each subject receives from the other its own message in the inverse form: Elizabeth wants to present herself to Darcy as a young cultivated woman, full of wit, and she gets from him the message ‘you are nothing but a poor empty-minded creature, full of false finesse’; Darcy wants to present himself to her as a proud gentleman, and he gets from her the message ‘your pride is nothing but contemptible arrogance’. After the break in their relationship each discovers, through a series of accidents, the true nature of the other – she the sensitive and tender nature of Darcy, he her real dignity and wit – and the novel ends as it should, with their marriage. Continue reading →
This post was written in answer to a question about the nature of Darcy’s pride. Someone asked how it was possible that Darcy received such a good opinion from his housekeeper, and yet still needed to give excuses for his pride after his second proposal.
The Hunsford Proposal
It’s significant to remember that there are two kinds of pride. One is positive – it’s good and natural to be proud of one’s just deeds, or of our loved ones. The other is the worst of the seven deadly sins out of which all of the others arise. It’s this kind of pride that is paralyzing and leads us to cruelty. People who are too proud to act according to their conscience and do what is right, because it would be seen as their weakness, are guilty of this kind of pride. The remedy to it is humbleness, and Darcy later says that he was properly humbled by Lizzy. Of course Darcy always knew the difference between the two kinds of pride, but he thought he was proud only in the positive way. Lizzy proved him wrong. Continue reading →