Pride & Prejudice (2005)
“I could easily forgive HIS pride, if he had not mortified MINE.”
-Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen, 1813
Before I move on for a while, from the works of Austen, I want to talk about pride, or more specifically, whether pride is a good or bad trait. I think most of us, without really deliberating on the subject, would say that it is bad. But is it really?
Excessive, or unfounded pride, of course. One that causes hurt in others, as Mr. Darcy had done to Elizabeth, definitely. But otherwise, is pride a bad thing?
In the dictionary, pride is defined as “satisfaction of one’s achievements,” and “consciousness of one’s own dignity.”
If you think about it this way, there is absolutely nothing wrong or negative about this description. Neither, satisfaction of one’s achievements, nor consciousness of one’s own dignity could be protested.
We get our own definition from Austen in Pride and Prejudice:
‘Pride,’ observed Mary, who piqued herself upon the solidity
of her reflections, ‘is a very common failing, I believe.
By all that I have ever read, I am convinced that it is very
common indeed; that human nature is particularly prone
to it, and that there are very few of us who do not cherish
a feeling of self-complacency on the score of some quality
or other, real or imaginary. 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.’
But the more amusing definition comes from Mr. Darcy:
‘Perhaps that is not possible for anyone. But it has been
the study of my life to avoid those weaknesses which often
expose a strong understanding to ridicule.’
‘Such as vanity and pride.’
‘Yes, vanity is a weakness indeed. But pride—where there
is a real superiority of mind, pride will be always under
So, pride is bound to naturally exist, where there is a superiority of mind, and in such a case, it will not regulate or overpower one’s actions anyway.
I agree that carrying pride is a matter of understanding one’s dignity, and that it helps to create healthy boundaries with others, where they are required.
In Turkish, there is a saying “there is no pride in love.” But the way it is spoken in Turkish, is far more definite and enforced than when it is translated into English. The meaning is more along the lines of “there cannot be, there ought not be, it is unimaginable for there to be, pride in love.” It implies that pride is love’s enemy. A poison that is bound to destroy and kill the most promising sentiment, and something to be avoided at all cost, if one’s aim is to love and be loved. It also implies that these emotions cannot coexist, and choosing one, means overriding the other. It implies, that there is no shame or repulse in doing things unimaginable in the name of love, and one must act, if required, out of character, for the sake of attaining it. Love is treated as the ultimate superior emotion, far more valuable, and necessary than pride.
That’s what you do when you profess love, in any form or method. When you place yourself at risk, when you de-associate with your pride to say the words “I love you” without knowing whether it will be spoken back to you. And if it is not?
If it is not spoken back to you, that pride, that you so selfishly pushed away and orphaned, becomes your friend again. It doesn’t mind returning to you, but its heart was broken too, and it’s not quite the same anymore. You realize, that you valued it too little, and was willing to forsake it for something promising, yet unknown and untrustworthy. And your pride, is now spiked with regret, and shame, for not having been so proud before.
Consciousness of one’s own dignity.
Isn’t it strange that dignity should be so at odds with love?