Monday, 8 July 2013

Jane Austen Quote of the Week 239

Darcy & Elizabeth in argument (PP 2005)

My apologies of this week’s belated quote. I had some reflective moments on my own, and it took me some time to get the right quote for my reflections. I eventually ended up with the discourse between Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet in Chapter 11 of Pride and Prejudice. The following quote is taken from, starting from Lizzy’s narrative:

``I am perfectly convinced by it that Mr. Darcy has no defect. He owns it himself without disguise.''

``No'' -- said Darcy, ``I have made no such pretension. I have faults enough, but they are not, I hope, of understanding. My temper I dare not vouch for. -- It is I believe too little yielding -- certainly too little for the convenience of the world. I cannot forget the follies and vices of others so soon as I ought, nor their offences against myself. My feelings are not puffed about with every attempt to move them. My temper would perhaps be called resentful. -- My good opinion once lost is lost for ever.''

``That is a failing indeed!'' -- cried Elizabeth. ``Implacable resentment is a shade in a character. But you have chosen your fault well. -- I really cannot laugh at it; you are safe from me.''

``There is, I believe, in every disposition a tendency to some particular evil, a natural defect, which not even the best education can overcome.''

``And your defect is a propensity to hate every body.''

``And yours,'' he replied with a smile, ``is wilfully to misunderstand them.''

I used to write a quote focusing on the famous ‘My good opinion once lost is lost for ever’. But now, I want to focus on the whole narrative above. Both Lizzy and Darcy have defects; Lizzy being wilfully misunderstanding people, while Darcy has the inclination to lose his good opinion forever. Everyone has defects. We try to live with them, we try to overcome them.

But one thing made me realise last night. One of the reasons of the different opinions or take on life between Darcy and Lizzy is because of their different personal histories. Certainly, Darcy being rich and Lizzy being a middle class woman owned to their different personal histories. But personal histories are made of much more than the money one has, or wealth one has not. Many things composed a person’s personal history. 

Now I realise that when I interact with someone, I don’t only interact with that person. There’s a big chance that I will interact with his or her personal history, as she/he will interact with my personal history. My take on a topic can be different from this person’s take on a topic because we have different journeys that took us to this point in life.

Darcy and Lizzy had different journeys that took them to that point in life in Pemberley. All of us do. And that’s where the term ‘I understand where you’re coming from’ came from. Not that you came from a rich family or poor, from Europe, USA, Asia or Africa... not just that. The entire history of a person is encapsulated in that person. At times, we will interact not just with that person; but also with that person’s history. 

And that’s where clashes can emerge. Because we often don’t realise that our different takes on a topic can be the result of our different personal histories. 

It happened to me last night. I was having a conversation with a friend, and then things went south because she wondered why I reacted so strongly to a topic, while to her it’s not really a big deal. I then said something which actually referred to the possibility that we had different takes on this topic because of our different personal histories/backgrounds. That time, she was the one who misunderstood me. 

I am sorry that I had an argument with my friend. I will write to her expressing my regret; explaining that we indeed can see things differently because of different things that had happened in our lives prior to this moment. And it’s okay to agree to disagree, without diminishing one’s own feelings or opinions about a certain topic. 

I hope I can patch things up with her. 

And this is why I’m writing you this now. Because, at times, we forget that our arguments and differences are because of the different journeys that have taken us to this point in life. And it’s okay to own them, while at the same time striving to overcome them as well.

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