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|What Sir Walter and Elizabeth lack is self-respect, not pride
Written by Kevin S.
(10/18/2011 7:22 p.m.)
Much is made of pride in this chapter, beginning with this:
"Anne had never seen her father and sister before in contact with nobility, and she must acknowledge herself disappointed. She had hoped better things from their high ideas of their own situation in life, and was reduced to form a wish which she had never foreseen: a wish that they had more pride; . . ."
As Anne goes on to contemplate her family's lack of pride, it occurred to me that what they are really lacking is a kind of self-respect. But perhaps this wasn't a term, or even much of an idea, common in Austen's time. Obviously, what others thought of you was the main source of self-respect at the time, though Austen does much in this book and others to break out of that mindset.
To put things in other terms, Sir Walter and Elizabeth have no shortage of VANITY, and insofar as they need pride, they need the kind that puts limits on what you'll allow yourself to do, regardless of what others think of you. They need a proper pride grounded in one's own accurate assessment of oneself, not grounded (at least not entirely) in what others think of you.
Aristotle has some things to say about proper pride along these lines. Does anyone know if Austen would have been even passingly familiar with his work? I've never heard of her reading him or any other philosopher, but perhaps his ideas were discussed at the time.
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