Pride and Prejudice

Elizabeth Loves Power, Not Populism

The community featured in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice has entrenched societal systems known as “propriety”. This “propriety” is a cultural code of conduct that dictates the lifestyles of the cultural citizens and defines success for the community. On many occasions, the protagonist Elizabeth Bennett criticizes or doubts this system of propriety. She feels it judges without worthy evidence and denies citizens the right to fulfill their identities and desires. However, Elizabeth uses the same methods to assign others a social value lower than her own. The inconsistency in Elizabeth’s attitude towards judgment suggests that she believes social inequalities exist between people, but just refuses to acknowledge those without her at the top.

One person who Elizabeth judges as unworthy of equal respect is Mr. Collins. Elizabeth’s initial judgment of Mr. Collins is that he is not worth spending her time on. Elizabeth resists speaking with Mr. Collins in the first place, and consents to the conversation only to “get it over as soon and as quietly as possible” (91). Her feelings “[a]re divided between distress and diversion,” and his mere presence “ma[kes] Elizabeth…near laughing,” indicating she does not respect his thoughts (91 –...

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