Pride and Prejudice

The Tao of Austen: The Philosophy of Concordia Discors in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

"Opposites attract" may be a modern adage, but the concept has been present in many incarnations throughout history. In Chinese philosophy, the yin and yang are presented as opposing dynamics. To understand one, it is requisite to know the other. One of the most eloquent renderings is the philosophy of "concordia discors," or discordant harmony. According to this philosophy, the universe consists of opposing entities. The universe, in seeking a balance, must thus couple the opposing entities to create equilibrium. In her novel Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen weaves this philosophy into a social commentary in which an entire society suffers a fixation on coupling. In her four most prominent characters, Elizabeth Bennet, Jane Bennet, Fitzwilliam Darcy, and Charles Bingley there exist greatly opposing temperaments. However, in observing the interactions between these characters, Austen reveals an underlying harmony in their relationships.

At first, Austen emphasizes the differences between sisters Jane and Elizabeth through comparisons of temperament. These differences are made quite clear when both characters remark on the same occurrence, as their opinions and personalities present startlingly different...

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