Writing Catalog

Olivia Mian

Grade: 12

Hathaway Brown School

Instructor: Elizabeth Armstrong

Pride and Prejudice Essay

Critical Essay

Pride and Prejudice Essay

Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, their journeys culminating in one of literature's greatest love stories, begin the novel as deeply flawed characters. They share a pridefulness that characterizes their relationship, and in many ways sets in motion the events that lead to their being married at the novel's conclusion. It is their pride that causes them to clash in their very first meeting, sparking a mutual dislike almost purely based on the surprise they feel at the other's ability to challenge them; this dislike fuels their interest in one another, continually drawing them together. Elizabeth and Darcy's excessive pridefulness and self-assuredness effectually blind them to developments taking place around them, leaving them often surprised by one another and acting reactionarily. Their frequent surprise at one another forces them to evaluate their perceptions of self, as they both challenge the other's ability to feel self-assured. Ironically, Darcy and Elizabeth's enduring perceived dislike and deep study of one another's flaws is what allows them to see themselves reflected in each other, and what gives them the opportunity to fall in love with one another. Austen harnesses a powerful irony in that without their excessive pride, Elizabeth and Darcy's paths may never have been so intertwined, as their pridefulness acts to draw them together magnetically, and furthermore that the intricate dissolution of that pride is what shifts their passionate relationship from mutual irritation to mutual admiration.

Elizabeth Bennet is not accustomed to being challenged in her wit or intellect, allowing her to develop a complex of her own superiority of understanding and perception. This complex is especially prevalent regarding her opinions of the opposite sex. Having no brothers, Lizzie has minimal experience interacting with men beyond her father who she admires so incredibly as to seemingly believe he is of superior wit and that all men must rank below him on that score. Additionally, having grown up in a small town, Elizabeth has little experience with diversity and therefore is unused to points of view that impugn her own. Entering into the novel with this superior stance, Elizabeth undoubtedly chafes against Mr. Darcy's arrogance. She states, "(...) I could easily forgive his pride if he had not mortified mine" (Austen 12). By expressing that she could "easily forgive" him his pride, Elizabeth intimates that it is not the recognition of pride in him that bothers her; she is able to dismiss that quite easily and does not seem to find it that troubling. She reveals that the true offense is that he "mortified" her pride and vanity with his evaluation of her beauty and refusal to stand up with her. She acknowledges here that she not only recognizes her own pride but holds it in esteem. Her "mortification" reveals how deeply her pride and arrogance are connected to her emotions and sense of self. This quote succeeds to set the tone for Darcy and Elizabeth's tumultuous relationship by clarifying that their initial and residing issue is their rivalry as well as the challenge they pose to one another's entrenched opinions.

Darcy's pride comes most directly from his superiority in rank and wealth. He is also accustomed to having his superiority complex supported as well as his arrogance excused by those around him who willfully take on the inferior role. He does not meet this diffidence or willingness to be subordinated in Elizabeth. In large part, Darcy's initial draw to Elizabeth is because she challenges his idea of women and people in general. Looking specifically at the Bingley's, with whom he spends most of his time in the novel: Caroline fawns over him, and Mr. Bingley regards Darcy's opinion as higher than anyone's. Elizabeth not only neglects to fawn over him, but she openly dislikes him, which is very unusual and intriguing to him. Moreover, Caroline's jealousy and constant abuses of his interest in her only increase his interest in Elizabeth, serving to clarify that Darcy is intrigued by that which thrives contrary to the rules established as acceptable in his society, much as he tries to reinforce his complete contentment as a member in his class. Darcy's pride in not wanting to let Caroline influence or chastise him, keeps him adamant that he is interested in her. Furthermore, his prideful desire to win her favor, shallowly fascinated that she is not charmed by his wealth and attractiveness, is what initially drives him to pursue her.

Elizabeth's self-importance and self-assuredness leave her prone to relying too heavily on her intuition being correct. This is a quality that she shares with Mr. Darcy who has expressed that he believes, "[his] good opinion once lost, is lost forever" (39). He is confident in his use of the word "forever", which allows the statement to reinforce itself: he believes without a doubt that once he passes a judgment there is no cause at all for it to change ever. She passes judgment on Darcy, naming him arrogant and of deficient character; Elizabeth resolves never to like him. This unwavering attitude opens the door to her being willfully deceived by Wickham's narrative and completely ignoring the warnings she receives from Miss Bingley, Mrs. Gardiner, and even her closest confidante, Jane. Beyond her internalized superiority and frankly, egoism Elizabeth delights in being somewhat of a pariah, though she goes about it in a more subtle way than her three younger sisters. This desire to slight society is why she is so taken with Wickham, who effectually represents adventure and passionate companionship to her. Miss Bingley, quite contrarily to her character, seeks to alert Lizzie to Wickham's potential falseness, citing that Lizzie should not "give implicit confidence to all his assertions; for as to Mr. Darcy's using him ill, it is perfectly false" (65). Caroline goes on to reason that Wickham's behavior has been "infamous' ' which should have been a significant choice of words for Lizzie, meaning that there was much more information yet to be discovered about Wickham. However, Lizzie repudiates her warning saying it is a "paltry attack" born out of "wilful ignorance" (65). Elizabeth, for all her skills of perceptiveness and superiority of mind, allows herself to be "willfully ignorant"; she is completely hypnotized both by her infatuation with Wickham and her desire to continue hating Darcy. Her curiosity at Darcy's cruelty to Wickham keeps her actively fascinated with Darcy, as enabled by her prideful unwillingness to cede that she may have misjudged him.

Darcy's proposal to Lizzie is perhaps the strongest example and the pinnacle moment of their clashing pride, as well as how that pride has blinded them up until the moment of the proposal. Both Darcy and Elizabeth are completely shocked following this proposal, which marks a turning point in their relationship. Both characters enter into the proposal completely assured of their opinions and feel that they are the one in control of the relationship. Both characters exit the proposal understanding that not only had they made grave miscalculations of one another, but that they had been laboring under the delusion of complete awareness for quite some time. For two people who are unused to being challenged or to their mistakes being so forcefully laid out before them, the proceedings of this failed proposal leave Darcy and Elizabeth reeling and requiring much introspection.

Following the climax of Darcy's failed proposal to Lizzie, their pride begins to change, as the two characters begin to see the ways their flaws are represented in one another. The letter that Darcy writes to Elizabeth explaining the offenses she has laid against him, serves to provide Elizabeth with the information that she needs to admit her wrongs and to begin confronting how ruthless she can be in her judgments. Lizzie's thorough study of this letter teaches her the value of giving people the space to grow in her life, as she comes to decide that not only is Darcy not an evil man, but he is actually an admirable one. The letter also serves to demonstrate a great stride of growth in Mr. Darcy. In the letter, he is able to admit and take responsibility for manipulating his friend into quitting Hertfordshire and abandoning his designs on marrying Jane. He also confesses a lie of omission, saying, "I condescended to adopt the measures of art so far as to conceal from him your sister's being in town. I knew it myself, (...) but [Bingley] is even yet ignorant of it." He describes what he is done as something he "condescended" to do owning not only his mistake but owning that it was beneath him which demonstrates a maturity that he did not display earlier in the novel. He expresses shame for this mistake more for the way that it hurt his friend and hurt Jane, than for its effect upon himself, showing clear selflessness not previously demonstrated. Furthermore, Darcy's growing separation from his prideful reliance on title and rank is depicted clearly in the way that he interferes with Lydia and Wickham's scandalous relationship. Not only does he potentially involve himself in a scandal, he intentionally interjects himself into the defamatory actions of a man he hates in order to protect a family that he has little admiration for, barring his admiration for Lizzie and Jane. He tells Elizabeth, "I hoped to obtain your forgiveness, to lessen your ill opinion, by letting you see that your reproofs had been attended to"(249). Darcy demonstrates a deep love for Lizzie in his desire to "obtain her forgiveness", but also to show her that he had attended to her "reproofs" which is a significant statement indeed, as changing oneself to please someone you love is not something that a person who is self-obsessed or too prideful would do.

Elizabeth's growth is delineated more in the way that her mind opens, than in the actions she takes. She begins to exercise more empathy, especially toward Darcy. She, rather than making a flippant and dramatic judgment of him as she'd done in the past, reads over his letter many times and carefully deliberates on his character. She also turns inward and begins to understand better her own faults, many of which she and Darcy share, allowing her to slowly admire and then to love him. In learning the details of Darcy's interference in Jane and Bingley's engagement as well as in the settlement of Lydia's marriage to Wickham, Elizabeth fully acknowledges her miscalculation of his character and is resolved to love him. She has changed from self-absorption to selflessness as she begins to feel the abuse of Darcy's character as pain upon herself, or in other words, what hurts him hurts her as well. She explains:

"It was painful, exceedingly painful, to know that they were under obligations to a person who could never receive a return. They owed the restoration of Lydia, her character, every thing, to him. Oh! how heartily did she grieve over every ungracious sensation she had ever encouraged, every saucy speech she had ever directed towards him. For herself she was humbled; but she was proud of him " (219).

She uses the words, "painful" and "grieve" to illustrate the way in which she is able to empathize with Darcy and also to take ownership of her own wrongdoings. She chastises herself for being "ungracious" and "saucy" toward Darcy, clarifying that she no longer holds him in contempt, but rather has abandoned her pridefully need to be at fault with him. She describes herself as being "humbled", which is a very significant choice of words being that humility is an antonym for pride and with this, she shows the distance she has separated from her pride at the beginning of the novel. Perhaps most importantly, Elizabeth finishes that she is "proud of him". This is possibly the most important piece of the speech because it demonstrates the way she has not only separated from her own pride, but allowed her pride to evolve from being solely pride in herself to pride in the man she loves. Elizabeth declares her misjudgments and faults to Darcy himself, but also to her sister and her father, the two people whose opinion matters most to her, cementing that she has matured and gained a level of humility she did not previously display.

As can be easily expected from the title Pride and Prejudice, Austen weaves the pitfalls of pridefulness brilliantly into the story and into her characters. More than simply a dissolution of their pride and arrogance, Elizabeth and Darcy's pride evolves to being more in one another than in themselves as they fall in love. The dissolution and evolution of Darcy and Elizabeth's pride culminate in the second, and successful proposal. The two characters are able to recognize their shared faults and in doing so also uncover the ways in which they share strengths, learning to take pride in one another rather than in themselves. Elizabeth and Darcy serve to demonstrate that even the most passionate of relationships can be built on rocky foundations and that pride can be a virtue just as much as it is a fault.

Confessions for a Lover


Confessions for a Lover

I never told you this story
And I'd like to tell it now
I want to tell you that I loved you.
I really did.

All that time you thought that you were some piece in a game I was playing and building and changing and twisting
I loved you.

I loved you from the day I met you
A full seven years ago
A kid, really, just 11 years old and
I. Loved. You.

I guess I was too young to show it, too dumb to see it, to scared to say it.
Or maybe there really is a darkness in me that wanted to hurt you
before you could ever hurt me.
And I did.
I know I did.

I know that I broke your heart and I know that growing for you meant leaving me behind
but I meant it, I mean it: I loved you.
The way the stars gaze at the moon and the ocean hugs the earth.
I loved you so much that my heart cracked into so many pieces, I've given up hope of finding them all.

So, I am sorry I didn't see it until you were leaving for college.
I am sorry we couldn't love each other at the same time until it was too late

Back then you were the first boy I'd talked to until the sun tucked the moon into bed
And now you're the first man I gave my body to
And you don't even know that.

You don't know that I am only half a human here hoping for some hope because when you left you took my heart with you sewn secretly in the lining of your suitcase.

I am here and I am heartbroken
And you don't even know that.
Because I never told you this story.

Red and Blue and Grey


Red and Blue and Grey

It is red here
But our hearts are grey
With a little blue inside

Blue for what we have, family too cold to be red
Encased in all the ashen grey
Muscle morbidity

The red carnage, sickly sweet flowers
Smelling of decay
We are stirring
And we starving
And we are sleeping violently

We have lost
From winged women to a falling people
Falling from the sky
And swimming babies
Swimming in the chill

Our time is contorted
Fiery wings
Suffocating in a swelling void
Bodies falling like ice from the sky
For cold things do not float

Where every birth is already a death
For even if we breathe
We are dead anyway

Can pump a heart whose only choice is to be born
Grey with a little blue on the inside

It is burning here
Burning to pieces
But we are so cold

Self Portrait without Ballerina


Self Portrait without Ballerina

There is no portrait without ballerina
There are pink tights and leotards
There are tutus
And there are pointe shoes

There is no portrait without ballerina
There is three-years old
There is a baby ballerina
And there is a lifetime of slippers

I am a blank canvas without ballerina
I am nothing.
As Ballerina I am athlete, I am artist

My scars are ballerina.
They are failure they are injury
They are eating disorder
They are shame

Ballerina is blood inside my pointe shoes become blood inside my veins
I am only Ballerina.

Even god knows I sold my soul to Ballerina a long, long time ago.
It's both the shattered glass and the glue.
Take it away and the wreckage will collapse.

A self portrait without ballerina is no portrait at all.
Ballerina is a tutu whose hooks dig so deeply they rip the skin from my back
But Ballerina is the dream that three-year-old me dreamt.

And I'm still checking my phone


And I'm still checking my phone

I am just so tired of crying on my bed
After another night wasted waiting for you to tell me when our plans will be
Of having to ask you for updates
Even though you said you'd "let me know"
Because now its been five hours
And in five hours I checked my phone
Five thousand times

I know you knew that when you said maybe after we'd made plans for tonight that you really meant
You knew it and I think somewhere I knew it too
Because that "possibly" gave me deja vu and a little pit in my stomach that I'd be crying in my bed tonight
Almost like it's happened before
Five thousand times before

And here I am
Because you're "going to go out with the guys"
because you're "staying in tonight"
And you have no apology to give me
No "I'm sorry you wasted your night waiting for me"

I am a fool
Because with you maybe always means no
And I waited for you anyway
And I'm still checking my phone

A Poem for a City Dweller


A Poem for a City Dweller

I loved a lover for seven years and he was lost to me on a Monday
A Monday on a city stoop
A reminder that time takes fire to our frost
That real love in adolescence is a timeless thing
With a tickling clock

But we were lovers like diamonds
Two pearls inside an oyster
Lovers like violence
Like velvet

Sometimes I hear him breathing
The cadence of his chest
I smell lavender
I smell petrichor
And my bones ache for adolescence

My lover moved to the city
And melted away
A seafoam on the rolling waves
Waves of faces and tall buildings
And copper
The city is like the sea

I saw him once there
We were sad stoop dwellers
Looking back at the roaring tranquility of an aged dream
A twilight reminiscence

At the end of adolescence
I looked back at my lover
His back to me, yet there was no ice in him
Only the haze of a morning dew mellowness
For we were not fighting
We are just older

My last glimpse of my lover
And the deep blue city was calling
He did not turn
He slipped beneath the waves




I remember how our hands would meet at the barre
I remember how often we didn't know the combination
There was nothing like laughing at mistakes with you
Such a terrible distraction from my training
But what a beautiful addition to my life

We were always the same
Your eyes found my eyes and my eyes found yours
And when you smile, I smile
When I breathe, you breathe

I see you in the wing across the stage
The lights so bright I can only see your shape
We take a deep breath
Shoulders Up
Shoulders Down
You smile, I smile
And the music gently pulls us into the warm light
A comforting darkness, shadowed familiar faces ahead
My eyes see your eyes
I smile, you smile
We Begin.

I love your hands on my body and they love me through every lift
I will leap into your arms with no fear of falling
Because I'm flying at you
And I am so much more than a woman and you
So much more than a man
There is nothing quite like dancing with your lover
Nothing quite like loving your dance partner
I will take any risk within your hands
Because the man lifitng me, the man supporting me
Is the man that I love

It's an entirely new language.
physical and technical
There is nothing like partnering
You support me, you carry me, you lead
You are responsible for my body
I am responsible for yours
I support you, I carry you, and I lead
We move like water
breathing together, and thinking with one mind
No words
I hold you while you hold me keeping in my hands in yours
Just hands and bodies and music and our eyes
We are hugging
Just hugging
Just breathing
Breathing like water
Dripping with sweat
I trust you completely
I have you completely

Dear Ballerina,


Dear Ballerina,

If I were to try and write a letter to myself
It would be a letter to 2008, to a three-year-old girl

A three year old girl
who loves ballet more than living
A three year old girl
who already understands true love

How could I tell her that I'm not a ballerina
How could I tell her that I couldn't do it

How do I tell a three-year-old girl that she never becomes a ballerina
that Ballet won't want her
How can I make her understand that I am so sorry
That I loved it for as long as I could
That I tried and Ballet broke my heart

How could I face her disappointment
Her broken heart
When she realizes I've given up on her dream

Dear ballerina,

I have to tell you something
Something I have learned in the future
And I am so sorry

I just want you to know that I tried
I tried for as long as I could
For you

I Hate You Poem


I Hate You Poem

I always meant to tell you that I hate you
That you made my life more difficult
That I blame you for countless tears
So much of my suffering
Your fault

You made me doubt myself
and question my gravity
You made me dread doing what I love
when I never imagined anyone could have that power over me
It's your fault

I used to sit there and watch the door everyday
and I would hope you wouldn't arrive
Yet every time
you did
And the day was worse because of it
It's your fault

You made me want to apologize for my own success
You never let me feel confident
You were my greatest competition, my rival through and through

But when did my success just become about beating you?

You were my very best friend
A kindred spirit, linked to my elbow
But that's all gone now because you hate me
And I hate you too, you know

When did I begin to look for your name first
on lists with casting and audition results?
When did I start to care only that my roles were bigger than yours?
When did we stop having sleepovers?

You started ruining my days when your pirouettes were good
Can we please stop pretending that we're friends
I know that's a lie
You're a liar, I know that you hate me

But why aren't you unhappy?
When I am deeply so
This is your fault
It's all your fault

You are taller than I am and more flexible and skinnier too.
But you don't even work hard
I am sure of it
No, you never do

I always wished that you would move away
I never thought you'd do it
But now I never see you
Do I miss you?
No, no way

But now who will I blame when my pirouettes are bad
Now whose fault is it when I'm unhappy with my casting
I was never unhappy with my casting
Because it was always better than yours

I am supposed to be happy now aren't I?
That my rival has moved away?

But I am not happy at all
So, I guess I kind of miss you
In a hateful sort of way

In truth I guess I sort of needed you
Maybe you gave me reason
Maybe you made me fight

But no
Definitely no
because dancing is my favorite thing
I thought this was my very favorite thing
It's been my very favorite thing, ever since I was a child
And it was you who tried to ruin it
It was you who tried to take it away

Or I guess
Maybe you didn't
Actually maybe I did

You know
I'm sorry I was never proud of you
I'm sorry I wasn't better than this
My darling friend, turned enemy
I guess I got carried away in hating you
I got carried away

I guess I should thank you
For giving me someone to hate
For protecting me from myself
Thinking about it now
Perhaps it's my fault
I think it's all my fault