The other day, I took a chance and watched “Pride & Prejudice”, expecting it to be nothing more than a flat, overly romantic costume drama. …It’s not. Dude. It’s not. This is actually a really well-made film: the music is fantastic, the camerawork is stunning, the acting ensemble is great, and the story itself is a lot more complex than I expected it to be. But enough film-major talk—what “Pride & Prejudice” really sticks out for in terms of my faith is its theme of, well, pride and prejudice. Each character deals with putting differences like class and personality aside, even when marrying, and the idea of pride is a huge stumbling block to any Christian.
Keira Knightley plays Elizabeth Bennet, a young single woman with four sisters living in… England, somewhere. I forget. Anyway, one night at a fancy ball, she meets a man named Darcy (Matthew Macfadyen), who is high in class but not in being able to strike up a conversation. He strikes Elizabeth almost as snobby from the start, and soon she feels a dislike for him. (And no, this disliking doesn’t stay for long.) One day as she converses with him, she confronts him about his prideful nature.
ELIZABETH: Are you too proud, Mr. Darcy? And would you consider pride a fault or a virtue?
DARCY: Maybe it's that I find it hard to forgive the follies and vices of others, or their offenses against me. My good opinion, once lost, is lost forever.
Elizabeth finds out soon from a friend that Darcy has had a history of disagreements with others, even though that he grew up with from infancy. But while Darcy is dealing with his own kind of pride, Elizabeth is struggling with it as well—Mr. Collins, an awkward priest who has been sent by a patron into the Bennet’s town to look for a wife, sets his eye on Elizabeth. Worried for her well being, Elizabeth rejects him, and Collins marries another woman. Elizabeth cannot believe this: when her friend Charlotte, who has accepted Collins’ proposal, tells her this, Elizabeth can’t get a shocked look off her face.
CHARLOTTE: Oh, for Heaven's sake, don't look at me like that, Lizzie! There is no earthly reason why I shouldn't be as happy with him as any other.
ELIZABETH: But he's ridiculous!
CHARLOTTE: Oh, hush! Not all of us can afford to be romantic. I've been offered a comfortable home and protection. There's a lot to be thankful for.
CHARLOTTE: I'm twenty-seven years old. I've no money and no prospects. I'm already a burden to my parents… and I'm frightened. So don't you dare judge me, Lizzie. Don't you dare!
And she walks away. From this point on, it seems like Elizabeth can see that she has put her own pride before marriage. And it shows, because in the end, when Darcy reveals that she loves Elizabeth after all but just couldn’t show it, and has helped marry two of her sisters to try to prove himself in a way, Elizabeth realizes how foolish she’s been. She tells her father when trying to convince him to accept her and Darcy marrying:
ELIZABETH: He is not proud. I was wrong, I was entirely wrong about him. You don't know him, Papa. If I told you what he's really like, what he's done. …He's been a fool about so many things... but then, so have I. You see, he and I are so similar!
And finally, Elizabeth and Darcy are engaged. They’ve been able to put pride and prejudice aside and find love instead.
You’re probably familiar with Proverbs 16:18, which reads, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” But Jesus Himself also had a lot to say about pride. In his Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7, he tells the crowd not to be hypocrites and judge others before themselves: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (7:3-5) Jesus is saying that if we are too proud, we will not be able to see our own faults, which one could say is what Elizabeth struggles with in the film. She cared too much about social standing to find true love. And true love, in 1 Corinthians 13:4, is “patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.”
My prayer for you, the reader, is that if you can see a prideful struggle in your life that keeps you from loving or even forgiving others, that you would get rid of that plank in your eye and show others the love of Jesus.