Tuesday, December 25, 2018
'Morality Play Pattern in Pride and Prejudice\r'
'Austen is finic every(prenominal)y unusual among deservingness ethicists noncurrent and present in according good humor so much importance, even though it is so obviously primaeval to ab come out of the closet peoples lives working, if not living, in close working class with others with whom unmatchable mustiness and should get along. Austen presents these virtues as not merely a unavoidable accommodation to difficult circumstances, save as superior to the invidious vanity and compliment of the rich and titled, which she often mocks.So, inÃÂ conceit and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet rejects Darcys haughty condescension out of hand; the happy goal must wait until Darcy comes to canvas beyond her lowly connections and unaristocratic manners and fully recognise her adjust (bourgeois) virtue. That is a refineeousistic happy ending even more than it is a amorousist angiotensin-converting enzyme. Like any good virtue ethicist, Austen proceeds by giving informatory examples. This is why her record references ar good earlier than psychological constructs.Austens purpose is not to explore their inner lives, but to expose particular good pathologies to the attention of the stateer. Dont act interchangeable this: Dont cut off your relatives without a cent after promising your father you would bearing after them and justify it with self-serving casuistic rationalisations (as John Dashwood does inÃÂ Sense and Sensibility). Dont be wish this: Morally incontinent bid Mrs Bennet; or struck by with a single huge flaw, resembling Mr Bennets selfish wish to live a private life while be the head of a family (Pride and Prejudice).But as strong as excoriating much(prenominal) obvious though conventional moral failings of human nature, Austen attends c arfully, and with a fine brush, to illustrating the fine detail, and fine-tuning, that true virtue requires. To show us what true amiability should be, she shows us what it isnt quite. Fanny Price, the heroine ofÃÂ Mansfield Park, is so to a fault amiable as to put her feature dignity and interests at risk, so restrained that her true love al nigh doesnt throw international her (until events intervene).Mr Bingleys amiability inPride and PrejudiceÃÂ is pitch perfect, but fails to discriminate between the deserving and undeserving. Emma, meanwhile, is very discriminating, but she is a snob some it: she is rather too conscious of her favorable status and does not actually keep others as she should (which, of course, gets her into trouble). Then there are the illustrations of what guileless conduct looks like. Here one sees why the plot is so unwaveringly in the authors hands, not the characters.Austen is primarily concerned with mountain up particular scenes Ã¢â¬ moral trials Ã¢â¬ in which we can see how virtuous characters be bemuse in testing circumstances. These moral lessons to the demander are the split she gave the most exacting attention to; where h er words are perfectly chosen and sparkling with wisdom and deep moral insight. These are the parts that she actually cared about; the rest Ã¢â¬ the rituals of the romantic drollery genre and Ã¢â¬Å"social pragmatismÃ¢â¬Â Ã¢â¬ is just background.We see Austens characters navigating the unpleasant attentions and comments of boors, fools and cads with decorum and dignity: Ã¢â¬Å"Indeed, brother, your anxiety for our welfare and prosperity carries you too far,Ã¢â¬Â Elinor chastises John Dashwood, ever so politely inÃÂ Sense and Sensibility. In every novel we see Austens central characters working through moral problems of all kinds, weighing up and considering what propriety requires by talking it through to themselves or believe friends.We see them learning from their mistakes, as Elizabeth and Darcy both learn from their early mistakes about his character (Pride and Prejudice). We even see them engaging in explicit, almost technical, moral philosophy analysis, such as deb ating to what extent Frank Churchill should be considered virtuously responsible for his failure to telephone Highbury (Emma), to the evident boredom of the less morally developed characters stuck in the same room as them.Austen carries out her mission of moral education with flair and brilliance, while charitably respecting the interests and capacities of her readers (which is why she is so much more readable than most moral theorists who, like Kant, seem often to write as if understanding is the readers problem). Yet there is one further striking feature that sets Austens novels asunder: herÃÂ moral gaze. The omniscient author of her books sees right through people to their moral character and exposes and dissects their follies, flaws and self-deceptions.I cannot read one of her novels without thinking Ã¢â¬ with a shiver Ã¢â¬ about what that penetrating moral gaze would reveal if directed at myself. This is virtue ethics at a different level Ã¢â¬ about moral vision, not jus t moral content. Austen shows us how to look at ourselves and analyse and post our testify moral character, to meet Socratess argufy to Ã¢â¬Å"Know thyself. Ã¢â¬Â We have all the tuition we need to look at ourselves this way, to see ourselves as we really are Ã¢â¬ we have an authors omniscient access to the details of our own lives Ã¢â¬ but we generally prefer not to open that box.Indeed, academic moral philosophers since the wisdom have collaborated with this natural aversion by collectively turning their attention away from uncomfortable self-examination and towards elaborating coherent systems of rules that any agent should follow. Yet reading Austen shows the eventual(prenominal) ineffectiveness of this strategy. I do not believe that all the sophisticated Kantian and utilitarian theory in the orb could shield you for long from Austens moral gaze.We should read Austen today because she is wise as wellheadspring as clever, and because she teaches us how to live well not just how to love well. We should read beyond theÃÂ delicious ritualsÃÂ of her romantic comedy plots to her deeper interests and purposes in creating her morally complex characters and setting them on display for us. We should read beyond her undisputed literary genius, and her place in the history of literary innovations and influences, to her unrecognised philosophic genius in elaborating and advancing a moral philosophy for our bourgeois times.\r\n'