Pride and Prejudice and the Beauty of Justice

  • Sarah Emsley


Like Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice is concerned with the social virtue of amiability and the problem of how to be truthful and civil simultaneously. Like Elinor, Elizabeth Bennet must negotiate ways to keep her judgment independent while she behaves politely to her family, her neighbors, and her enemies. But she has much more spirit than Elinor, and thus has a great deal more trouble behaving civilly when she is insulted or exasperated by others. In Pride and Prejudice, the tensions in Jane Austen’s exploration of competing virtues are heightened, yet it is not simply because Elizabeth has a harder time than Elinor at balancing amiability and civility. There is more at stake, the questions are more complicated, and the action is more dramatic in this novel because Austen takes on the problems of anger and prejudice, investigating how they work in relation or opposition to the principles of virtue.


Restorative Justice Good Judgment Virtuous Character Righteous Anger Civil Behavior 
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© Sarah Emsley 2005

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  • Sarah Emsley

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