One of my favourite books of all time is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. The dynamic between the two protagonists is beautifully written. We have the proud Mr Darcy who feels that the importance of his wealth, class and connections, entitle him to pass judgement on others. And we have Miss Eliza Bennett whose quickly made assumptions are based mostly on the manner of those she encounters, rather than their character.
So, when I knew I would be writing on hubris of course I think of this book, and the many adaptations and homages. Like the excellent Bride and Prejudice (for those of you that like Bollywood) which brings thoughts on how we in the first world treat the developing world. Bringing to light perspectives on arranged marriages and other cultural practices that we sometimes subconsciously sneer at.
The reason this novel (and its adaptations) is so long lasting is that the themes are still relevant today. For this dynamic does not just exist in literature, though we like to think so. And as much as we in Australia like to think that this class prejudice is only in the United Kingdom, that too is a false narrative.
I find it interesting with the advent of the COVID-19 Pandemic across the world, we have seen the importance of essential workers. Often those with lower income and less status; the cleaners, teachers, nurses, supermarket workers and delivery drivers that are keeping parts of our country going in lockdown. This pandemic has shown that the people we often ignore at the checkout while we talk on our phone, are essential. It has shown us that those who get up early to sort packages and deliver them, are essential. It has shown us where we put our value, and who we have been ignoring as a society. It shows us our prejudices and our pride.
The beauty of Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice is that both the main characters change. Through the course of the novel, they soften and grow. They own their own failings and learn from each other.
May we too, be open to change. May we too, be willing to see where we have had our own assumptions. May the scales of pride fall from our eyes and may we genuinely see others.