Mr. Darcy Is Too “Proud.” But Is Darcy the Only Character Who Is Too Proud in Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”?

As most of you are likely to realize by now, I am a “whole brained” individual, which means that although I adore the fine arts, I still possess a very analytical brain. You’ll find me solving word puzzles and sodokus equally. In fact, numbers and statistics are a hidden pleasure. [Did I ever mention that I began my college career as a math major? In fact, if not for a poorly placed professor, who knew little of teaching and less of mathematics, I might have taken a different career choice. My high school teachers of Huntington High School taught rings around the woman. Thank you Mrs. Castleberry and Mrs. Stanley! But I have digressed.] So here’s another of my meticulous posts where I count the use of key words in Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” I hope you enjoy this one. 

If you have ever read Jane Austen’s masterpiece, you are aware that Mr. Darcy is too “Proud.” But is Darcy the only character who is too Proud in Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” And are there different types of “Pride”? 

When the reader is first introduced to Mr. Darcy in Chapter 3, we learn this of the man: “The gentlemen pronounced him to be a fine figure of a man, the ladies declared he was much handsomer than Mr. Bingley, and he was looked at with great admiration for about half the evening, till his manners gave a disgust which turned the tide of his popularity; for he was discovered to be proud; to be above his company, and above being pleased; and not all his large estate in Derbyshire could then save him from having a most forbidding, disagreeable countenance, and being unworthy to be compared with his friend.” 

Also, in Chapter 3, the residents of Meryton contrast Mr. Bingley’s lively and unreserved nature to that of Mr. Darcy. “He was the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world, and every body hoped that he would never come there again.” 

Elizabeth’s opinion of the Bingley sisters is not favorable. “They were in fact very fine ladies; not deficient in good humour when they were pleased, nor in the power of making themselves agreeable when they chose it, but proud and conceited.” Chapter 4

keira-in-pride-and-prejudice-keira-knightley-570965_1280_554In Chapter 5, Charlotte Lucas defends Mr. Darcy to the Bennets, especially to Elizabeth. Charlotte seems to think Mr. Darcy’s demeanor was a result of his upbringing. “One cannot wonder that so very fine a young man, with family, fortune, everything in his favour, should think highly of himself. “If I may so express it, he has a right to be proud.” 

Personally, I love this next quote. It was one of the first that rang true when I read “Pride and Prejudice” at the ripe old age of 12. In this one, again, Charlotte Lucas does not view being proud as a “sin” against good manners. “Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.” Chapter 5

Also in Chapter 5, Charlotte’s younger brother aspires to be called proud if he can have Mr. Darcy’s supposed fortune. “If I were as rich as Mr. Darcy,” cried a young Lucas, who came with his sisters, “I should not care how proud I was. I would keep a pack of foxhounds, and drink a bottle of wine a day.” 

a2e33ba5-83d2-4144-8b95-6c277795909cDarcy and Bingley enjoy a bit of a tease regarding the lack of legibility of Mr. Bingley’s writing, especially as it applies to letter writing. Darcy accuses Bingley of “the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast.” When Bingley ask which is the greater offense, Darcy responds with,“The indirect boast; for you are really proud of your defects in writing, because you consider them as proceeding from a rapidity of thought and carelessness of execution, which, if not estimable, you think at least highly interesting. The power of doing anything with quickness is always prized much by the possessor, and often without any attention to the imperfection of the performance.” Chapter 10

In Chapter 14, we are introduced to Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Mr. Collins defends his patroness. “She had also asked him twice to dine at Rosings, and had sent for him only the Saturday before, to make up her pool of quadrille in the evening. Lady Catherine was reckoned proud by many people he knew, but he had never seen anything but affability in her.” 

In Chapter 16, Wickham weaves his tale of woe and how the elder Mr. Darcy esteemed him. If Elizabeth had not been looking for another reason to dislike Darcy, she might have realized the “holes” in Wickham’s tale. “How strange!” cried Elizabeth. “How abominable! I wonder that the very pride of this Mr. Darcy has not made him just to you! If from no better motive, that he should not have been too proud to be dishonest — for dishonesty I must call it.” 

When Elizabeth cannot quite believe Mr. Wickham’s defamation of Mr. Darcy, Wickham explains his criticism as such, “Yes. It has often led him to be liberal and generous, to give his money freely, to display hospitality, to assist his tenants, and relieve the poor. Family pride, and filial pride — for he is very proud of what his father was — have done this.” Chapter 16

Mr. Wickham does not stop with his disdain for Darcy. He also speaks poorly of Georgiana Darcy. Needless to say, Elizabeth did not hold knowledge of Wickham’s attempted seduction of the girl. Wickham sounds reasonable. What is not to be believed? He shook his head. “I wish I could call her amiable. It gives me pain to speak ill of a Darcy. But she is too much like her brother — very, very proud. As a child, she was affectionate and pleasing, and extremely fond of me; and I have devoted hours and hours to her amusement.” Chapter 16

 Mrs. Gardiner plays into Mr. Wickham’s hands. Elizabeth’s aunt holds some knowledge of the Darcys from her time in Lambton. “Mrs. Gardiner had seen Pemberley, and known the late Mr. Darcy by character perfectly well. Here consequently was an inexhaustible subject of discourse. In comparing her recollection of Pemberley with the minute description which Wickham could give, and in bestowing her tribute of praise on the character of its late possessor, she was delighting both him and herself. On being made acquainted with the present Mr. Darcy’s treatment of him, she tried to remember some of that gentleman’s reputed disposition when quite a lad which might agree with it, and was confident at last that she recollected having heard Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy formerly spoken of as a very proud, ill-natured boy.” Chapter 25

9fa4a94ee161914ca31b388658396954By the end of Chapter 36, Elizabeth has read Darcy’s letter often enough to give him credit for the honor in which he acted. “How differently did everything now appear in which he was concerned! His attentions to Miss King were now the consequence of views solely and hatefully mercenary; and the mediocrity of her fortune proved no longer the moderation of his wishes, but his eagerness to grasp at anything. His behaviour to herself could now have had no tolerable motive; he had either been deceived with regard to her fortune, or had been gratifying his vanity by encouraging the preference which she believed she had most incautiously shown. Every lingering struggle in his favour grew fainter and fainter; and in farther justification of Mr. Darcy, she could not but allow Mr. Bingley, when questioned by Jane, had long ago asserted his blamelessness in the affair; that proud and repulsive as were his manners, she had never, in the whole course of their acquaintance — an acquaintance which had latterly brought them much together, and given her a sort of intimacy with his ways — seen anything that betrayed him to be unprincipled or unjust — anything that spoke him of irreligious or immoral habits; that among his own connections he was esteemed and valued — that even Wickham had allowed him merit as a brother, and that she had often heard him speak so affectionately of his sister as to prove him capable of some amiable feeling; that had his actions been what Mr. Wickham represented them, so gross a violation of everything right could hardly have been concealed from the world; and that friendship between a person capable of it, and such an amiable man as Mr. Bingley, was incomprehensible.”

In Chapter 43, Mrs. Reynolds defends Darcy against the rumors of his prideful nature. “He is the best landlord, and the best master,” said she, “that ever lived; not like the wild young men nowadays, who think of nothing but themselves. There is not one of his tenants or servants but will give him a good name. Some people call him proud; but I am sure I never saw anything of it. To my fancy, it is only because he does not rattle away like other young men.”

Colin-in-Pride-and-Prejudice-colin-firth-567327_1024_576At the end of Chapter 43, the Gardiners pronounce their evaluation of Darcy. “The observations of her uncle and aunt now began; and each of them pronounced him to be infinitely superior to anything they had expected. ‘He is perfectly well behaved, polite, and unassuming,’ said her uncle.
‘There is something a little stately in him, to be sure,’ replied her aunt, ‘but it is confined to his air, and is not unbecoming. I can now say with the housekeeper, that though some people may call him proud, I have seen nothing of it.’”

In Chapter 44, upon first meeting Miss Darcy, Elizabeth expects the girl to be uppity, but finds otherwise. “Miss Darcy and her brother appeared, and this formidable introduction took place. With astonishment did Elizabeth see that her new acquaintance was at least as much embarrassed as herself. Since her being at Lambton, she had heard that Miss Darcy was exceedingly proud; but the observation of a very few minutes convinced her that she was only exceedingly shy. She found it difficult to obtain even a word from her beyond a monosyllable.”

In Chapter 45, Elizabeth realizes how others might deem Georgiana’s shyness as pride. “In this house they were received by Miss Darcy, who was sitting there with Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley, and the lady with whom she lived in London. Georgiana’s reception of them was very civil, but attended with all the embarrassment which, though proceeding from shyness and the fear of doing wrong, would easily give to those who felt themselves inferior the belief of her being proud and reserved. Mrs. Gardiner and her niece, however, did her justice, and pitied her.”

In Chapter 47, Elizabeth describes Wickham’s perfidy to the Gardiners. “I do indeed,” replied Elizabeth, colouring. “I told you, the other day, of his infamous behaviour to Mr. Darcy; and you yourself, when last at Longbourn, heard in what manner he spoke of the man who had behaved with such forbearance and liberality towards him. And there are other circumstances which I am not at liberty — which it is not worth while to relate; but his lies about the whole Pemberley family are endless. From what he said of Miss Darcy I was thoroughly prepared to see a proud, reserved, disagreeable girl. Yet he knew to the contrary himself. He must know that she was as amiable and unpretending as we have found her.”

In Chapter 50, Elizabeth realizes how much she has lost. “What a triumph for him, as she often thought, could he know that the proposals which she had proudly spurned only four months ago, would now have been most gladly and gratefully received! He was as generous, she doubted not, as the most generous of his sex; but while he was mortal, there must be a triumph.”

In Chapter 52, after learning of Darcy’s involvement in bringing Wickham and Lydia together, Elizabeth reflects on how poorly she treated Darcy. “It was painful, exceedingly painful, to know that they were under obligations to a person who could never receive a return. They owed the restoration of Lydia, her character, every thing, to him. Oh! how heartily did she grieve over every ungracious sensation she had ever encouraged, every saucy speech she had ever directed towards him. For herself she was humbled; but she was proud of him. Proud that in a cause of compassion and honour, he had been able to get the better of himself. She read over her aunt’s commendation of him again and again. It was hardly enough; but it pleased her. She was even sensible of some pleasure, though mixed with regret, on finding how steadfastly both she and her uncle had been persuaded that affection and confidence subsisted between Mr. Darcy and herself.”

In Chapter 53, Mr. Bennet sarcastically speaks of his pride in claiming Wickham as part of the family. “He is as fine a fellow,” said Mr. Bennet, as soon as they were out of the house, “as ever I saw. He simpers, and smirks, and makes love to us all. I am prodigiously proud of him. I defy even Sir William Lucas himself to produce a more valuable son-in-law.”

In Chapter 53, Kitty describes the arrival of Bingley and Darcy to Longbourn. “There is a gentleman with him, mamma,” said Kitty; “who can it be?”
“Some acquaintance or other, my dear, I suppose; I am sure I do not know.”
“La!” replied Kitty, “it looks just like that man that used to be with him before. Mr. what’s-his-name. That tall, proud man.”

In Chapter 59, Mr. Bennet questions Elizabeth’s motives for accepting Darcy’s proposal. “Have you any other objection,” said Elizabeth, “than your belief of my indifference?”
“None at all. We all know him to be a proud, unpleasant sort of man; but this would be nothing if you really liked him.”


About Regina Jeffers

Regina Jeffers is the award-winning author of Austenesque, Regency and historical romantic suspense.
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4 Responses to Mr. Darcy Is Too “Proud.” But Is Darcy the Only Character Who Is Too Proud in Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”?

  1. Pingback: Austen On Dit | Austen Authors

  2. Ironically, both Darcy and Elizabeth exhibit both pride and prejudice in their characters. Lizzie is very proud of her ability to read others and on the quickness of her judgments. Darcy is very proud of his family heritage and status. Both exhibit prejudices resulting from their respective pride, and both have maturing and changing to accomplish before their happy ending. Darcy is not the only one humbled.

    • In my latest variation, Elizabeth’s faults are more prominent than they are in the original Pride and Prejudice. As you pointed out, her faulty judgments and her over dependence upon her ability to read people is her weakness.
      We often think that Darcy made many changes in his attitude in order to win Elizabeth’s heart, but she had a LOT of growing up to do.
      Thanks for joining me today, Lauren, and for sharing the post with others.

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