Deeper Look into Pride and Prejudice (2005 film)
An examination of pride and more pride in Joe Wright’s Pride and Prejudice screenplay
When people think of the theme of pride and prejudice in the Pride and Prejudice movie, most will think of this in terms of the two main characters in the film: Elizabeth and Darcy. Upon watching it this time, I was struck in all the different scenarios that pride is revealed by all of the other characters and relationships.
Mr Collins’ pride
Ah yes, the dreaded cousin. Mr Collins’ proposal monologue to Elizabeth is one of the most cringeworthy scenes in the whole movie. There is not a single sentence in his speech that is genuine or true (“practiced”, might be a better word for it). To Elizabeth he says, “almost as soon as I entered the house, I singled you out as the companion of my future life. But before I am run away with by my feelings on this subject…”. He also adds “that no reproach on the subject of fortune will cross my lips once we are married.” Touche. This reminded me of Darcy’s first proposal speech to Elizabeth. Both of these men’s proposals clearly indicated what was important to them at the time: their social standing, their fortunes, Elizabeth’s lack thereof of both things, and a belief in their moral superiority for “overlooking” this within her. Both of their speeches, heavily ladden with pride, lacked emotional care and consideration for the recipient, which Elizabeth definitely noted.
Mrs Bennet’s pride
Mrs Bennet is prideful in any matter concerning her daughters’ potential for marriage. After laying in mourning for days at Lydia’s disappearance, she immediately changes her mindset when she receives news of Lydia’s marriage. She boasts about Lydia’s elopement to Mr Bingley and Lady Catherine when they stop by, to which Lady Catherine remarks to Elizabeth that the marriage was nothing but a “scandalously patched-up marriage, only achieved at the expense of your uncle.” In the beginning of the movie when she was excited about Jane’s anticipated engagement to Mr Bingley, she is seen boasting about its possibility to everyone, to which Darcy believes to be a lack of propriety. In this case, her happiness leads to a form of pride that isn’t harmful, but is interpreted as harmful to others.
Jane and Elizabeth’s pride
In the second half of the movie, both Jane and Elizabeth do not confide in each other of their true affections for Bingley and Darcy, respectively. For Jane, I believe she was trying to deny these feelings in herself and thus couldn’t admit this to Elizabeth until she was proposed to. For Elizabeth, there was a moment when she almost confided her feelings about Darcy to Jane, but they were conveniently interrupted by Bingley’s visit. Even later when Jane and Elizabeth are in bed and Jane is expressing her hope that there might someday be “such a man” for Elizabeth, Elizabeth doesn’t use that opportunity to confide in Jane. I think that there may be two reasons for this: 1) because she doesn’t want to damper the mood of her jubilant sister or 2) because she doesn’t want to entertain a notion that she may have turned down someone who she now has feelings for, and isn’t sure if a relationship is possible anymore between them. It’s definitely complicated, and perhaps Elizabeth doesn’t want to discuss this with someone [yet]. Are both instances of withholding information instances of pride/self-preservation, or something else?
It is clear in the first few scenes of the movie that Mary looks down at the other sisters for their triviality of participating in balls. At the ball she goes to with her family, she sings and plays the pianoforte (very loudly) to which her father is able to see that other girls are laughing at her lack of skill and tells Mary to “let the other young ladies have a turn”. Mary runs off crying and when Mr Bennet finds her later, she laments “I’ve been practising all week!”. Is it Mary’s pride that prevents her from seeing her lack of skill here?
Darcy and Elizabeth’s pride
In the movie, Elizabeth and Darcy undergo a drastic character development journey. This journey begins by each attacking the other’s pride by exposing it. They each then take the entire span of the movie to grapple with the revelations of their faults, and work on addressing them in their own ways. Darcy, after harshly judging Elizabeth’s family and their social standing, later takes the time to get to know her uncle and aunt while they visit his home, even taking the uncle out fishing. Elizabeth, also after wrongly judging Darcy for his treatment of Wickham, allows herself to see that Darcy does hugely generous actions in private, as that is his way of doing things. In their case, pride is overcome when it is exposed and given a large motivation to work to kill it (aka their growing affection and love for each other). Does the annihilation of pride always work in this way?
From examining the movie with a focus on pride, it revealed to me that pride is complicated and is sometimes not a quality that stands on its own (like Mrs Bennett, where her pride was intertwined with her happiness).
More questions for the crowd: Does pride makes us blind to our own shortcomings? Is pride always synonymous with arrogance? Can having pride, in relation to others, ever lead to good or must it always be annihilated?