Saturday, June 8, 2013

What Elizabeth Bennet Knew

Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice is 200 years old this year. To quote Daniel McInerny:
In the passage we have been considering, Elizabeth chastises herself for a want of discernment (lack of prudence), an overestimation of her abilities (improper pride), and a blindness to her defects (lack of humility). A similar moral accounting is made later in the novel by Darcy. The central narrative arc of the novel is thus a movement on the part of each of these characters from appearance to reality, from “first impressions” (Austen’s original title for the novel) to “full-fledged knowledge of who they really are.” And in coming to a clearer self-recognition, both Elizabeth and Darcy take the first step toward that friendship based on virtue that is the life’s blood of their romance.

In this year 2013, we celebrate the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice. There are many qualities that make the novel great and its television and film adaptations so enjoyable. Audiences for 200 years have been captivated perhaps above all by Elizabeth and Darcy’s romance. But while their romance is indeed overwhelmingly charming, we miss the entire point of Austen’s novel if we fail to see that it is first and foremost a story of moral transformation that begins with self-knowledge. (Read entire post.)

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