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The Theme of Pride in American Literature Essay

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Updated: Oct 24th, 2021

Introduction

A mans nature is many-sided. And this is underlined by the fact that all the people have their own positive characteristic features and, as it is natural, their negative drawbacks and shortcomings. Looking at a mans life one evident feature is observed, that is bad features of the character prevail over the good ones. Broad-minded thinking is the point to make one feel satisfied not only with some prosaic or filthy content but the point to be happy with the thought that one had done things just for everybody’s convenience or satisfaction, not only for the own interest.

Pride is the character trait through which any person can be characterized, sometimes from the positive point of view, but more often from a negative one. On the examples of the main characters of the given three stories: “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller, “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen, and “The Stone Angel” by Margaret Lawrence, lets discuss the motif of pride through this theme: Pride is an obstacle within that one must overcome in order to achieve true happiness, or else they shall suffer from the consequences.

Death of the Salesman

The story gets the reader to the world of Willy Lomans family. The play is made by the author in the way representing the memories of the main characters through the flashbacks along with the real scenes of the play. Right through the whole play, the seers observe the narrow-mindedness of the main character and his obstinacy to get through his pride.

Willy is taking great pride in his sons, Biff and Happy, especially of Biff. When the next flashback, the seers are shown the scene when Biff is training in the yard, and his fathers congratulating him with stealing the football. “That’s why I thank Almighty God you’re both built like Adonises” (Miller 32). The only thing Willy is cared about is being well-liked. He says, “I’m the New England man. I’m vital in New England.” (Miller 17). Once he was a vital salesman, but not anymore now. Willy is living in the world of his self-importance. But Willy does not realize the reality of the problem. Once he was caught by Biff in the hotel with another woman. Willy had always been a postulate for his son Biff, had been an icon to worship. And now Biffs views are shattered. He leaves home to live on his own. Anything happening around and to Willy is showing the audience that he is desperate and really stuck in his memories. But still, Willy is full of expectations bordering on desperation. Willy says, “Ben, that funeral will be massive! That boy will be thunderstruck, Ben because he never realized-I am known!” (Miller 127). Willy is willing to strike Ben at least by the funeral, but the ending of the story is when only Linda, Biff, Hap, Bernard, and Charlie are present.

Pride and Prejudice

Another story describing moral and social aspects of England of the 19th century.

As it comes from the title of the book, the novel touches upon the theme of our essay, which is pride.

The story tells us about a young lady name Elizabeth and her “adventures”, looking for love and marriage. The plot of the story is laid around Bennets, Darcys, and Bingleys families. And as in the previous story, we have one of the main characters who is definitely proud, that is Mr. Darcy. At the beginning of the novel, he comes to a reader as obnoxious and arrogant, when refusing to dance with Elizabeth. And his arrogance can be clearly observed through his words told in the 3d chapter “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. You had better return to your partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me.” (Austen). For Darcy, the people of Meryton are just social inferiors. But this social superiority arises as the main obstacle to step over his pride in the further relations with Elizabeth. “In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” (Austen)This quote demonstrates Darcys feeling towards Elizabeth’s genesis, as he found the strength to overstep his prejudice.

The Stone Angel

The story presents the life of a lady named Hagar. As the above mention two novels, Margaret Lawrences “The Stone Angel” shows the arrogance and haughtiness of the protagonist. First notes of the would-be disaster are read as Hagar recollects in the lines when she describes herself at the age of six: “There was I, strutting the board sidewalk like a pint-sized peacock, resplendent, haughty, hoity-toity, Jason Currie’s black-haired daughter” (Lawrence 6).

And this pride originally came from her fathers success. And getting closer to the climax of the novel, as Haggard Is getting old, her vice is more and more apparent. As the getting old lady keeps cultivating her pride. And only closer to the end of the story, the story of her life, she finally realizes how mistaken she was: “Pride was my wilderness, and the demon that led me there was fear. I was alone, never anything else, and never free, for I carried my chains within me, and they spread out from me and shackled all I touched. Oh, my two, my dead. Dead by your own hands or by mine? Nothing can take away those years” ( Lawrence 292).

Conclusion

On the examples taken from the novels, it comes evident that pride is a vice, no matter it is a positive characteristic or negative. It is truly evident that it harms more than gives any advantages. Once pride was a positive characteristic of the higher society people, but things change and prided fed by the prejudice is now changed to broad-minded thinking.

Bibliography

Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. New York: Chelsea House, 1988.

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987.

Laurence, Margaret. The Stone Angel. Toronto: McClelland &Stewart Inc., 1988.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "The Theme of Pride in American Literature." October 24, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-theme-of-pride-in-american-literature/.

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