Pride and Prejudice: Informal Arguments

  • Michael Williams


Pride and Prejudice is closer to Sense and Sensibility than to Northanger Abbey in its methods, but it is still radically unlike either. It does not present us with competing narrative structures, nor does it explore some of the formal links between ideas in the abstract and ideas in practice. To connect Darcy simply with ‘pride’ or Elizabeth with ‘prejudice’ is to be very reductive: to seek a useful antithesis or synthesis in the title is to be mistaken.


Informal Argument Aweful Object Amoral Social Movement Sympathetic Portrayal Fictional Structure 
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  1. 1.
    Sterne, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, ed. Petrie (1967) pp. 77, 160.Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    Sir Walter Scott, unsigned review of Emma (1815, pp. 194–5). At least one critic has attempted a sophisticated defence of Scott’s account: see McCann (1964, pp. 73–4).Google Scholar
  3. 12.
    There is for example the argument that ‘marriage is not commonly unhappy, otherwise than as life is unhappy’, and mention of the ‘ancient custom of the Muscovites’ whereby couples did not meet until they were married, since courtship merely allows individuals ‘to hinder themselves from being known, and to disguise their natural temper, and real desires, in hypocritical imitation, studied compliance, and continued affectation’ — Johnson, Works, III (1969) 243–7.Google Scholar
  4. 14.
    Edgeworth, The Absentee (1910 edn) p. 281;Google Scholar
  5. Sir Walter Scott, Waverley (1906 edn) p. 477;Google Scholar
  6. Wordsworth, Poetical Works, ed. Hutchinson, pp. 734–5; Coleridge, Biographia Literaria (1817), ed. Watson (1956) pp. 188–200.Google Scholar

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© Michael Williams 1986

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  • Michael Williams

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