Self Knowledge and Happiness in Pride and Prejudice

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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 marriage of Lydia and Mr Wickham is one of the unhappy marriages. Mr Wickham and Lydia are both very similar and are both unaware of their faults; they are both careless with money and see no problem with asking their relatives for money. Lydia as the youngest daughter is well accustomed to having other people look after her and she is dependent on other people. Lydia’s lack of self awareness doesn’t affect her greatly; she is happy and claims that she loves Wickham. She is very fond of him but he is not fond of her and quickly loses interest, “Wickham’s affection for Lydia, was just what Elizabeth had expected to find it; not equal to Lydia’s for him.” Lady Catherine de Bourg has no self knowledge. She is full of herself and sees herself very highly; it is obvious she is lacks self knowledge. She makes discourteous comments about other people without thought to their opinions and she also enunciates comments about how she views herself. Lady Catherine de Bourg is unhappy because she is disappointed that she cannot control everyone despite her position.

Austen shows us that people can be happy in different ways through the relationship of Charlotte and Mr Collins. Both Charlotte and Mr Collins do not find comfort in the company...
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