Pride and Prejudice, arguably Austen’s greatest book, and Othello, one of Shakespeare’s many masterpieces, have captured people of all historic backgrounds, as a result of intriguing themes, ever changing plotlines and emotive language, presented through the power of human flaws. Despite following similar human imperfections, Austen and Shakespeare finish with heavily contrasting outcomes; despite the writings being fitting for different eras and audience, many the characters in both Othello and Pride and Prejudice share similar affinities and attributes, suggesting that certain things about human nature have remained unchanged. Austen and Shakespeare use this cleverly, as consequently audience and readers find the characters more relatable. It’s feasible that Austen and Shakespeare chose to portray their charters in such a way, in order to display the flaws in society through the gradual realisation of human flaws; well, isn’t society a collection of our attitudes? Consequently, irony and cynicism are themes that run throughout the book and play, but are only evident through gradual realisation on the reader’s part. Subsequently, through this essay, I hope to explore the ways in which Austen and Shakespeare may have displayed their attitudes towards society through the flaws of the protagonists.
Firstly, regarding prejudice; this is evident in the title of Pride and Prejudice. Prejudice is arguably Elizabeth Bennet’s palpable flaw, which after only three chapters Austen introduces. However, by the time we reach chapter three the reader is already sided with Elizabeth, often making them blind to her flaws, as Austen uses a narrative voice from her point of view. Elizabeth’s prejudice towards Darcy is first apparent when Darcy’s comment “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me;” hurts her vanity. The use of the word ‘tolerable’ suggest to Elizabeth that she is merely worth considering and by justifying his opinion, Darcy enlarges Elizabeth’s initial prejudice. Naively, she builds up opinions towards Mr Darcy’s characters, whilst building up a similar prejudice within the reader; “He was the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world”. Though Elizabeth’s prejudice may appear to be vaguely justifiable, the prejudice presented by Barbantio, in Othello, is completely irrational. Shakespeare uses Barbantio, fuelled by anger and jealousy, to show his heavily rooted racial prejudices. Despite Othello “ticking most of the boxes” for an ideal husband for his