Pride and Prejudice: No Improper Pride

  • LeRoy W. Smith


Although Jane Austen, in her probing of the ‘drama of woman’, constantly explores the making of marriages, she examines the process of courtship most closely and defines the bases for an ideal marriage most fully in Pride and Prejudice. This concentration of interest is anticipated in ‘The Watsons’ and in Sense and Sensibility. However, the former so stresses the endemic difficulties of single women in search of husbands that the reader is occupied more with the problems of the society and the Watson household than with those of the heroine. Similarly, in Sense and Sensibility, although the opportunities and hazards of courtship impel the plot, the novel emphasises the social and sexual dangers that young women face because of sexual discrimination and their emotional vulnerability. In Pride and Prejudice, however, Austen concentrates on the threat to selfhood of the marriage-making process. The engagement of her hero and heroine signals their overcoming that threat, achieving their own potential and acquiring a sensitivity to the worth of the other. Elizabeth Bennet in her marriage appears to have resolved the conflicts at the heart of the ‘drama of woman’ .


Sexual Interest Marriage Market Personal Freedom Emotional Vulnerability Individual Psyche 
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Notes and References

  1. 10.
    Hardy, in Hardy and Daiches, ‘Jane Austen’, in The English Novel (London: Sussex Publications, 1976) p. 22.Google Scholar
  2. 18.
    See R. D. Laing, The Politics of Experience (New York: Pantheon Books, 1967) chs 1–2.Google Scholar
  3. 22.
    Theodore Reik, Psychology of Sex Relations (New York: Rinehart, 1945) p. 4.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© LeRoy W. Smith 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • LeRoy W. Smith

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