Do You Have Pride & Prejudice?

‘Pride and Prejudice’ tells the tale of how the aloof Mr. Darcy came to be with the feisty Ms. Elizabeth Bennet. As usual, for classic romances, it would be wrong to call it wholly a love story per se, because theirs was a love-hate relationship before they finally decide to let their love dominate. Pride made their love difficult to blossom well because true love does require the forgoing of pride (which gives rise to prejudice), which is a strong sense of self-love versus selfless love for another. However, behind fierce pride is often vulnerability, that one is too proud to admit.

Elizabeth: He’s been a fool about so many things… but then, so have I. You see, he and I are so similar.
[starts laughing helplessly] We’ve been nonsensical! Papa, I…
Father: [also starts laughing, softly] You really do love him, don’t you?
Elizabeth: Very much.

It’s a common belief that ‘opposites attract’, but this didn’t seem so in the case of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, for both mirrored each other’s pride and prejudice. Opposites can attract when each party sees qualities missing in oneself complemented by another. Being together thus becomes fulfilling, as if completing each other as halves. Is it for better or worse if a couple are opposites in character? The up side is that if each partner is mindful, both can learn to see and nurture the missing qualities in themselves. The down side is that if each is unmindful, both might take each other’s qualities for granted and not acquire them personally.

On the flip side, is it better or worse that ‘similars attract’, that each mirrors the other? The up side is that if each partner is mindful, both can learn to see themselves more clearly, as reflected in the other, and thus realise what positive qualities need to be strengthened, and which negative ones need to be weakened. The down side is that if each is unmindful, they might frustrate each other to no end, or the loving of the other might become an essentially narcissistic love, an extension of self-love – since the other resembles oneself so much. Yes, it all pivots on mindfulness. Yet, if all are perfectly mindful, there would be no need to be with another to better oneself. Come to think of it, both Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth had similarities AND differences, for no two people are exactly the same or entirely different.

Elizabeth: Are you to proud Mr. Darcy? And would you consider pride a fault or a virtue?
Mr. Darcy: That I couldn’t say.
Elizabeth: Because we’re doing our best to find a fault in you.
Mr. Darcy: Maybe it’s that I find it hard to forgive the follies and vices of others, or their offenses against me. My good opinion, once lost, is lost forever.
Elizabeth: Oh, dear, I cannot tease you about that. What a shame, for I dearly love to laugh.

In case there is some confusion, pride is different from dignity. Unless we are talking about ‘taking healthy pride’ in something worthy, pride is largely useless and even harmful – because it punishes oneself and others through the creation and sustenance of grudges. Jane Austen originally called her novel ‘First Impressions’. Some say ‘first impressions last’. In the negative sense, they only last only as long as we are prejudiced, when we measure others pridefully with our imperfect momentary perceptions, and refuse to change our opinions when the truth presents otherwise. Thankfully, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth realise this before the end of the story, thus ending their pride and prejudice. That’s some good ‘sense and sensibility’!

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