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Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice


by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice Lady Catherine de Bourgh Quotes

[Elizabeth:] "Indeed, you are mistaken, Madam. I have not been at all able to account for the honour of seeing you here."

"Miss Bennet," replied her ladyship, in an angry tone, "you ought to know, that I am not to be trifled with. But however insincere you may choose to be, you shall not find me so. My character has ever been celebrated for its sincerity and frankness, and in a cause of such moment as this, I shall certainly not depart from it." (56.25-26)

We sort of have to love Lady Catherine the bulldozer. She's not up to any tricks here, and is totally blunt about her anger that Elizabeth might be engaged to Darcy. Most characters would dance around the topics with a bunch of passive-aggressive insinuations. Apparently, rank does come with some privileges.

"You have no regard, then, for the honour and credit of my nephew! Unfeeling, selfish girl! Do you not consider that a connection with you must disgrace him in the eyes of everybody?[…] You are then resolved to have him?"

"I have said no such thing. I am only resolved to act in that manner, which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness, without reference to you, or to any person so wholly unconnected with me. […] Neither duty, nor honour, nor gratitude," replied Elizabeth, "have any possible claim on me, in the present instance. No principle of either would be violated by my marriage with Mr. Darcy. And with regard to the resentment of his family, or the indignation of the world, if the former were excited by his marrying me, it would not give me one moment's concern—and the world in general would have too much sense to join in the scorn." (56.64-69)

Here, in the totally ridiculous person of Lady de Bourgh, we actually get one of the main philosophical questions of the novel. How much should someone bow to the demands of the surrounding society? How much emphasis should be put on the happiness of the individual? Does the novel resolve this question? Or does the ending kind of sidestep this issue after raising it here and there?