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Etiquette in Pride and Prejudice

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on 21 March 2014

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Transcript of Etiquette in Pride and Prejudice

Manners are, "the prevailing customs, ways of living, and habits of a people, class, period, etc.; mores" (Dictionary.com).

In Austenian times, the 19th century to be exact, there were rigid social customs that everyone was expected to follow, specifically the middle class because they had the money to receive and education in good social etiquette. Sadly, this was not the case. Many people ignored the expected behavior and went off doing their own thing, oftentimes making fools of themselves.

People with good manners, or etiquette were generally respected and involved in activities.

However, people with bad manners were shunned, disrespected, considered ridiculous, and disliked.
Characters with good etiquette
- Elizabeth Bennet

- Mr. Wickham

- Mr. Bingley

- Jane
Mr. Wickham
1) “ His appearance was greatly in his favour: he had all the best parts of beauty, a fine countenance, a good figure, and very pleasing address. The introduction was followed up on his side by a happy readiness of conversation- a readiness at the same time perfectly correct” page 73, Volume 1, Chapter 15
Wickham is eager to mingle with new people and seems very open. He has a great first impression and everyone is ready to welcome him with open arms. Wickham uses his charisma and shows his manners towards women. He displays a image of politeness.

2) “ I wish I could call her amiable. It gives me pain to speak ill of a Darcy; but she is too much like her brother;-- very, very proud.” page 82, Volume 1, Chapter 16
Similar to his first meeting with Elizabeth, he also shows politeness in this conversation. Wickham demonstrates that he is a gentleman by not wanting to talk bad about others. Elizabeth believes this and pities Wickham. In the first two quotes readers see that Wickham has manners and acts like a gentleman towards the community.

3) “ As to his real character, had information been in her power, she had never felt a wish of enquiring. His countenance, voice, and manner… She could see him instantly before her, in every charm of air and address, but she could remember no more substantial good” page 203, Volume 2, Chapter 10
In Darcy’s letter, Elizabeth sees that Wickham was extremely polite and well mannered that she never questioned his intentions. He seemed trustworthy because cunning and greedy people are usually associated with rowdy and unruly people. Wickham is a well mannered person throughout the story, yet he is secretly cunning.
Mr. Bingley
Characters with bad etiquette
-Mr. Darcy
-Lady Catherine
-Mr. Collins
-Mrs. Bennet
-Lydia Bennet
-Miss Caroline Bingley
So what is she saying?
Pride and Prejudice,
we learn that Jane Austen isn't a fan of the social customs of her day. Some of these included how women were expected to marry (That backfired because there were more women than men) and live at the mercy of men. Jane Austen thought that many social customs, like the entailing of property on Mr. Collin's part, should be changed to women also being able to inherit property because it is not fair to women to have to frantically search for a husband before her father dies.

If Jane Austen did not have a problem with these rules, then she would not have mocked them and made them such prominent themes in her novels.
Elizabeth Bennet
1) “ If you were aware, of the very great disadvantage to us all, which must arise from the public notice of Lydia’s unguarded and imprudent manner” page 225, Volume 2, Chapter 42
Elizabeth waits for her and her father to be alone before she can warn him. This shows a great deal of politeness and the ability to choose her words carefully. Even though she is talking about her sister’s faults, she uses words to conduct her conversation in a polite manner.

2) “ We were always encouraged to read, and had all the masters that were necessary” page 164, Volume 2, Chapter 6
This quote is said in response to Lady Catherine freaking out about having no governess. Elizabeth does not shout or even use rude words to let Lady Catherine understand her family’s situation. Readers understand that Elizabeth is upset and annoyed at Lady Catherine, yet readers see her poise when answering to Lady Catherine’s rude comments.

3) “ I do assure you that I am not one of those young ladies who are so daring as to risk their happiness on the chance of being asked a second time. I am perfectly serious in my refusal.” page 107, Volume 1, Chapter 19
Elizabeth is not rude and off putting when rejecting this marriage proposal. Instead she firmly states her opinion and why she feels that way. The way she conducts herself is polite. By not yelling she also shows a huge amount of self control.

4) “I have every reason to think ill of you” Page 189, Volume 2, Chapter 10
Elizabeth is responding to Darcy’s proposal. Although she is well mannered, she sometimes cannot control her anger to an extent where she states her honest opinion. She knows that Darcy will not tell the entire town about her little outburst and so she speaks her mind. Elizabeth is not a flat character, she has different sides and different situations can make her speak out of turn. Her manner is unlady like because she is of lower class than Darcy and she treats him rudely.
Mr. Darcy
“She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me, and I am in no humor at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men” (Austen 7).
Here, Mr. Darcy is blatantly claiming that he is better than Elizabeth and refuses to condescend to her level and dance with her. To do so and dance with her would be offensive to him because other men have not wanted to dance with her, so there must be something seriously wrong with her. This was incredibly rude on his part because he said this all in earshot of Elizabeth, and we find out later in the book that many young ladies were without partners. Mr. Darcy justifies his behavior because he is in a higher social class than everyone else.

“Till his manners gave a disgust which turned the tide of his popularity; for he was discovered to be proud; to be above his company, and above being pleased… Mr. Darcy danced only one dance with Mrs. Hurst and once with Miss Bingley, declined being introduced to any other lady, and spent the rest of the evening walking about the room, speaking occasionally to one of his own part. His character was decided. He was the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world, and everybody hoped that he would never come back again” (Austen Vol 1, p 6).
Mr. Darcy is perfectly unpleasant and everybody hates him because he is rude and arrogant and is well aware of his elevated social status. Nobody likes him because he will not dance and doesn’t talk to anyone that he does not know. He is a sharp contrast to Bingley because Mr. Darcy is rich and haughty and hates people and Mr. Bingley has a fair bit of money and is literally a golden retriever. He is everybody’s best friend.

“ ‘ His pride,’ said Miss Lucas, ‘ does not offend me much as pride often does, because there is an excuse for it. One cannot wonder that so very fine a young man, with family, fortune, everything in his favour, should think highly of himself. If I may so express it, he has a right to be proud’” (Austen Vol 1 p 12).
Charlotte thinks that Mr. Darcy has an excuse for being uber rude and proud. Way to Charlotte for encouraging him. True, Mr. Darcy is nice to look at and has deep pockets and a fancy house, but if you take all of that away, he is just a person. Mr. Darcy seems to forget it and treats everyone as inferior because they have less money than him.

Etiquette in
Pride and Prejudice

by: Ryan Chen, Lucy Mayer, Casey Fulkerson, Katie Ming, and Anna Goodrich
Lady Catherine
Mr. Collins
Mrs. Bennet
Lydia Bennet
Miss Caroline Bingley
“ Her mother was talking to that one person (Lady Lucas) freely, openly, and of nothing else but her expectation that Jane would soon be married to Mr. Bingley… the chief of it was overheard by Mr. Darcy” (Austen Vol 1 p 65).
Mrs. Bennet is a blithering idiot. She does not know when to stop talking and she never censors herself or her daughters. She does not think of the consequences of what she says and she says whatever she wants. She is to blinded by her own vanity and idiocy to realize that she pretty much just ruined her daughter’s chance of a relationship with Mr. Bingley by gossiping in front of Mr. Darcy

“‘ Yes, indeed,’ cried Mrs. Bennet, offended by his manner of mentioning a country neighbourhood. ‘I assure you there is quite none of that going on in the country town” (Austen Vol 1 p 27).
Way to go Mrs. Bennet! You are up to embarrassing your daughter and offending Mr. Darcy. Much like her daughter Elizabeth, she is blinded by her hatred for Mr. Darcy and finds fault in him when there is none. He did not mean anything to offend her; he simply stated that he prefers the city, and she went on a rampage because she hates him.

“‘ … and the Lucases are a very good sort of girls, I assure you. It is a pity they are not handsome! Not that I think Charlotte so very plain-- but then she is our particular friend.’
‘ She seems a very pleasant young woman.’
‘Oh! dear, yes; but you must own she is very plain. Lady Lucas herself has often said so, and envied me Jane’s beauty. I do not like to boast of my own child, but to be sure, Jane-- one does not often see anybody better looking’” (Austen Vol 1 p 28).
Mrs. Bennet just outdid herself. Again. She has stripped her daughter of her dignity, offended Mr. Darcy and now she is bagging on the Lucases. This conversation was brought on by Mr. Darcy commenting on how her prefers the city. At the mention of another girl, Mrs. Bennet has to tear her down to eliminate the possibility of Mr. Bingley pursuing that girl. She must elevate her daughter to the most desirable position. Sadly, her desperation is off-putting and discouraging.

1. “Eliza Bennet,' said Miss Bingley, when the door was closed on her, 'is one of those young ladies who seek to recommend themselves to the other sex, by undervaluing their own...but, in my opinion, it is a paltry device, a very mean art.'"
Page 28, Volume 1, Chapter 8
Miss Bingley was very rude in her idea of speaking with such confidence while evaluating Elizabeth’s character in a negative, rather prejudiced manner. She was also somewhat hypocritical, and she stated that Elizabeth was disrespectful about her own sex, but in reality she was the only one being derogatory. One of Miss Bingley’s favorite past times seemed to be speaking illy about Elizabeth, which is rude and unnecessary, unbecoming as well not good etiquette.
2. "They had not long separated when Miss Bingley came towards her [Elizabeth], and with an expression of civil disdain thus accosted her, 'So Miss Eliza, I hear you are quite delighted with George Wickham...etc, etc' 'I beg your pardon,' replied Miss Bingley, turning away with a sneer."
Page 65, Volume 1, Chapter 18
Caroline Bingley called out Elizabeth about her past friendship with Wickham, much to both Darcy and Elizabeth’s annoyance. She clearly did not have good skills when it came to thinking about other people’s feelings. She wanted to make Elizabeth look bad, which was, for the most part, what she did the majority of the book. She constantly would pick apart Elizabeth’s behavior and appearance to make herself look better, but it did not work. Bashing other people was considered bad manners, and remains to be to this day.
3. "'Mr. Darcy is impatient to see his sister, and to confess the truth, we are scarcely less eager to meet her again. I really do not think Georgiana Darcy has her equal for beauty, elegance, and accomplishments...from the hope we dare to entertain of her being hereafter our sister.'"
Page 80, Volume 1, Chapter 21
Caroline Bingley is being almost deliberately insensitive to Jane’s feelings. There is no doubt that Miss Bingley knew of Jane’s affection for Bingley but she completely disregarded it and mentioned how great she thought Miss Darcy was and how much she wished that she would marry Bingley. She was not worried about how Jane would feel about this news, but she bluntly told her that she wished that Miss Darcy would be her new sister. This is ironic, because although Miss Bingley is supposed to be a high class gentlewoman, she is one of the most rude and insensitive people in the story.

In Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Collins shows an absence of good behavior in many circumstances. One example of this is when he introduces himself to Mr. Darcy. In that culture, introducing yourself to someone of a higher status than you was considered extremely rude. He would also talk incessantly despite what was going on around him and who he was talking to
“And with a bow, [Mr. Collins] left her to attack Mr. Darcy, whose reception of his advances she eagerly watched, and whose astonishment at being addressed was very evident. Her cousin prefaced his speech with a solemn bow” (Austen 98).

Mr. Collins also reveals his abominable etiquette when he sends a letter to the Bennets after Lydia’s elopement. He writes in a completely insensitive way and further says how he is glad he didn’t marry into their family. He writes
“The death of your daughter would have been a blessing in comparison of this. And it is more to be lamented because there is reason to suppose, as my dear charlotte informs me, that this licentiousness of behavior in your daughter has proceeded from a faulty degree of indulgence,” and he continues in the same manner without any thoughts of the feelings of those he’s writing to (Austen 286).

Mr. Collins also indirectly insults Elizabeth when she visits his home and they are about to go to Rosings for dinner. He says "Do not make yourself uneasy, my dear cousin, about your apparel. Lady Catherine is far from requiring that elegance of dress in us with becomes herself and daughter" (Austen 160).
Jane Bennet is practically a picture of perfection in Pride and Prejudice. She shows perfect manners and such a kind, gentle personality that no one in their right mind could hate her. She never speaks when it is impolite, and when she does speak, she says all the right things. Elizabeth even tells her
“You never see a fault in any body. All the world are good and agreeable in your eyes. I never heard you speak ill of a human being in my life” (Austen 16).

Jane does not lose her good manners even in desperate situations. She shows consideration for Elizabeth and for her family in a letter she writes that says
“I am truly glad, dearest Lizzy, that you have been spared something of these distressing scenes; but now, as the first shock is over, shall I own that I long for your return? I am not so selfish, however, as to press for it, if inconvenient. Adieu! I take up my pen again to do, what I have just told you I would not; but circumstances are such, that I cannot help earnestly begging you all to come here as soon as possible” (Austen 267).

The other characters in Pride and Prejudice could do a lot by following Jane’s wonderful example of good etiquette.
Elizabeth also testifies to Jane's goodness and perfect etiquette when she is in her room thinking after just hearing that Darcy got between Jane and Bingley.
"'To Jane herself,' she exclaimed, 'there could be no posibility of objection,- all loveliness and gooness as she is! Her understanding excellent, her mind improved, and her manners captivating" (Austen 185).
1. ``I would not be so fastidious as you are,'' cried Bingley, ``for a kingdom! Upon my honour I never met with so many pleasant girls in my life, as I have this evening; and there are several of them, you see, uncommonly pretty.'' (Chapter 3)
Bingley, unlike his longtime friend Mr. Darcy, is very polite and willing to meet new people. He is not judgemental and is always happy if everybody else is happy. He is a people pleasing person and his kindness and gentleness makes him well-liked by a lot of the people he comes in contact with. Both he and Jane look on the bright side of things and only find the good in people. His politeness proves to be a very attractive trait that seemed uncommon amongst the upper class in this story.

2. "He is just what a young man ought to be … sensible, good-humoured, lively; and I never saw such happy manners!—so much ease, with such perfect good breeding!" (Chapter 4, Jane speaking to Elizabeth)
Jane is initially attracted to Bingley not simply because of his great fortune, but how kind and what a nice gentleman he is. While Bingley received praise and acceptance by the people in town because of his good manners and kind words, Mr. Darcy turned people away with his stiffness. This goes to show how critical good etiquette was, and Mr. Bingley was a fine example of an upper class man with a good air about him.

3. "Bingley was endeared to Darcy by the easiness, openness, and ductility of his temper, though no disposition could offer a greater contrast to his own, and though with his own he never appeared dissatisfied" (Chapter 4)
Bingley was well-liked by everyone, even Darcy, because of his easygoing personality. He was not quick to get angry and he was always understanding and kind. If even Darcy liked him because of his mannerism, he must have been a very polite and easy to get along with man. He was always willing to help his friends and he drew people to him with his fine ettiquite.
"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." (Austen 56)

"Not so hasty, if you please. I have by no means done. To all the objections I have already urged, I have still another to add. I am no stranger to the particulars of your youngest sister's infamous elopement. I know it all; that the young man's marrying her was a patched-up business, at the expense of your father and uncles. And is such a girl to be my nephew's sister? Is her husband, is the son of his late father's steward, to be his brother? Heaven and earth! —of what are you thinking? Are the shades of Pemberley to be thus polluted?" (Austen 56)

Lady Catherine de Bourgh certainly seems to be the epitome of sophistication and status, but her behavior is actually very opposite. Her immense wealth and good social standing have earned her the respect of many, which has certainly gone to her head. Lady Catherine feels a sense of entitlement to whatever she wants, as if she makes all the rules. For example, she tries to convince Elizabeth to never accept a proposal from Mr. Darcy, because she wants her daughter to marry him instead. Not only is she unbelievably controlling but it is also clear that Lady Catherine holds herself in higher regard than anyone else by the way she speaks with total condescension to everyone. Lady Catherine’s poor etiquette is a result of her inflated ego.

"Lydia, self-willed and careless, would scarcely give [Jane and Lizzy] a hearing. They were ignorant, idle, and vain. While there was an officer in Meryton, they would flirt with him; and while Meryton was within a walk of Longbourn, they would be going there forever." (Austen 37)
Lydia is constantly seeking out the attention of the officers and her endless flirting certainly didn’t give the best impression to those around her. She simply ignores what is considered proper for a young lady. Her naivety and carelessness lead to her family’s embarrassment and eventually her marriage to Mr. Wickham.

"I wish you joy. If you love Mr. Darcy half as well as I do my dear Wickham, you must be very happy. It is a great comfort to have you so rich, and when you have nothing else to do, I hope you will think of us. I am sure Wickham would like a place at court very much, and I do not think we shall have quite money enough to live upon without some help. Any place would do, of about three or four hundred a year; but however, do not speak to Mr. Darcy about it, if you had rather not.
"Yours, etc." (Austen 61)
Even in her congratulatory letter to Elizabeth, Lydia takes the opportunity to talk about herself. No matter what the circumstance, she finds a way to make it all about her. Not only does she brag about her marriage, but also, seeing that Elizabeth and Darcy’s marriage could even benefit her, asks for a share of Mr. Darcy’s fortune. Lydia doesn’t take any time to consider others and goes out of her way to be the center of attention.

* Ironically, many characters with bad etiquette are wealthy and use their wealth and prosperity as an excuse and a reason for their bad behavior
The Importance of Manners
Manners were important because they reflected a person's family. Good manners brought honor to a person's family just as bad manners brought dishonor and shame. Also, manners influenced which suitors would come calling. Because England was a male dominated society and only they could inherit property, it was of the utmost importance for women to have good manners so they could get married.

Today, manners are not that really important. We live in a society that is all about me, me, me and less about how we act and treat other people. Because so much of our lives are on social media, we talk less and less to face and that causes manners to degrade.
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