Flattery in Pride and Prejudice Essay

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Flattery in Pride and Prejudice

Since its composition in 1797, Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice has enjoyed two centuries of literary esteem not because of its witty dialogue or its tantalizing plot, but because of its universal themes that allow modern readers to identify with early Victorian life. Although the novel focuses on the etiquette of courtship, related social rituals are also prevalent throughout the story. William Collins, a rector in Pride and Prejudice, uses excessive flattery to persuade people to look upon him favorably. He even lavishly praises himself to enhance his self-esteem. While the sycophant's peculiar behavior is comical at first
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Of the three distinct directions Collins aims his flattery, the most complex to explicate is arguably that praise he directs toward himself. In a letter to the Bennet family, he writes "I flatter myself that my present overtures of good-will are highly commendable...[and you will not] reject the offered olive branch" (67). In this introduction to Collins, he asserts his benevolence as nothing short of remarkable and immediately springs from that notion to presume it bears influence over others. His self-assuring antics appear in an argument later when he remarks "...I consider myself more fitted by education and habitual study to decide on what is right than a young lady like yourself" (106-107). Collins' self-directed flattery empowers him with decisive confidence that allows him to win logical disputes by default, no doubt bolstering his self-image and augmenting his probability for affluence.

On numerous occasions, Collins asserts the importance of his appointment as rector in the community, implying that he thinks highly of the rigid demeanor required to fulfill the duties of his imminent position.
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