Self Knowledge and Happiness in Pride and Prejudice

1597 words 7 pages
Pride and Prejudice written by Jane Austen is centred on characters that either gain self awareness and knowledge or possess none at all. Happiness is found even when one has no understanding of selfhood but the most happy and satisfied people in the novel are those who have self knowledge. People that possess self knowledge understand their strengths and weaknesses and characters that gain self knowledge are able to decipher these characteristics and act upon them. As marriage was seen as a great achievement for women in their society, happiness in Pride and Prejudice relates to whether one is happy or unhappy in their marriage.

Lydia, Mr WIckham and Lady Catherine de Bourg have no self awareness and are unhappy in the novel. The
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Although because she is unaware of her faults she is happy thinking that she is making a difference for the future of her daughters and their prospects of marriage.

Near the end of the novel Mr Bennet realizes and acknowledges the mistakes he made financially for the future of his children and his weaknesses. As a father and a husband, Mr Bennet fails. He did not put away and save money for his daughters once he died and was thoughtlessly careless in making this error. He allows his daughters to go unaccompanied to visit officers and walking by themselves. He does not keep his wife under control, therefore leaving her open to ridicule and he also takes part in this behaviour. He lacks a general concern for the way other people view his family and a lack of care for his daughter’s futures due to his own laziness. He finds no satisfaction or happiness in his wife or daughters apart from Elizabeth who he is extremely fond of. His loss of happiness in his wife is seen when she interrupts him in the library and he says, “I shall be glad to have the library to myself as soon as possible”, he does not enjoy her company. He eventually is able to reflect on his decisions and regrets not being a better father and not to be heedless with money, “I have at last learnt to be cautious”.

Elizabeth and Darcy grow as characters throughout the novel and develop in relation to each other. Darcy is very full of himself and proud but Jane


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