Jane Austen Académica: “What do I not owe you!”: An Examination of Gratitude in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice


Una de los comentarios que me hicisteis en el último Congreso de Jane Austen celebrado en Madrid fue que muchos de vosotros estabais utilizando este sitio web como referencia para realizar vuestras tesis doctorales, o investigaciones académicas. Por esa razón, empiezo con esta entrada una serie que vamos a llamar “Jane Austen Académica”, en la que os traeré artículos publicados en revistas académicas de todo el mundo referentes a distintos aspectos de la vida y obra de Jane Austen. Dado que la mayoría sois estudiantes o profesores de Filología, mantendré los resúmenes en el idioma original (la mayoría en inglés), y además os pondré el enlace a la página de la revista donde se haya publicado el artículo. Luego, ya dependerá que la página sea de acceso abierto, o de suscripción, que tengáis acceso al artículo completo. Pero, al menos, sabréis quién y qué se está investigando en el resto del mundo, y quién lo está patrocinando.

¡Espero que os guste! y que, sobre todo, os sea de gran utilidad.

Hoy empezamos esta serie con un artículo publicado en la revista

logos

Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture,

(Volume 18, Number 1, Winter 2015
pp. 152-168 | 10.1353/log.2015.0003)

titulado

What do I not owe you!”: An Examination of Gratitude in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

de Thomas W. Stanford III

En lugar de abstract, éste es un breve resumen del mismo:

Reading Pride and Prejudice , one is commonly struck by the richness of the manner in which Jane Austen examines humility as an antidote both to unjust pride and to the tendency to prejudge others. Perhaps these ideas reveal themselves most obviously in the humbling that Elizabeth and Darcy both undergo as part of the plot: each comes to understand that his or her initial judgments failed to be impartial and had to be made to accord with the reality of the other person. This action of humbling makes itself fairly apparent to readers of the novel and also makes clear the suitability of the novel’s original title (in Austen’s drafts): First Impressions. Erroneous first impressions must be adjusted to one’s actual experience of other persons; for example, Elizabeth learns that her first impressions of both Darcy and Wickham were mistaken. Yet the novel’s final title, Pride and Prejudice, is perhaps more apt, as it suggests the much more profound influences involved, and values at stake, in one’s judgment of persons. As an example of this thematic complexity, one may note that the theme of humility as a fundamental remedy manifests itself not only in terms of the judgments made by Elizabeth and Darcy, but also, perhaps more subtly, in terms of their developing love for one another, particularly as their gratitude for one another evinces itself in the novel. Indeed, the concept of gratitude garners elaborate treatment throughout the novel, particularly in the scenes and descriptions dealing with the evolving attachment between Darcy and Elizabeth. Pride and Prejudice reveals and celebrates the profound idea that gratitude is the proper response to the gift of self that is love, and, further, that gratitude is a sign and effect of authentic humility.

In order better to contemplate the relationship between the virtues of gratitude and humility in Pride and Prejudice, one ought first to examine the dynamic of gift giving, insofar as gratitude must be understood fundamentally as a potential response to the reception of a gift. Generally speaking, gift giving is a dynamic that is all too often taken for granted, but the principles of this dynamic actually act as a wonderful prism through which to recognize the moral power of Austen’s art.

In his book The Gift: Creation, the philosopher Kenneth Schmitz explores the gift dynamic. Schmitz establishes as a fundamental principle that gifts are offered between persons and always signify a relationship between persons. Gifts are not given to oneself (such an item might better be termed a “treat,” not a gift, since there is no principle of otherness) or to one’s dog (an animal cannot appreciate the significance of a gift, and gifts always have significance, even if neither the giver nor the receiver dwells upon that significance). Schmitz suggests, “We can’t really give anything to ourselves. If the gift we receive is wholly at our command and within our power, it is not in any strict sense a gift.” Since one is not compelled to give a gift, all true gifts are acts of love, are other-centered, and are free. This last fact must be underscored: for a gift to be authentic, it must be offered from giver to receiver in complete freedom, or, as Schmitz argues, a gift is “a free endowment upon another who receives it freely; so that the first mark of a gift is its gratuity.” Freedom, then, exists on both sides of the gift dynamic. Thus, for the receiver to “owe” a gift is a contradiction; if something is owed in return for a service, as one owes a payment to the electric company, such an exchange would better be described as commerce. To feel obligated to give a gift in return is not to feel free (recall that ligare, in Latin, means “to bind”). In too many cases, feeling an obligation to reciprocate the gift may arise from a desire to even the score—that is, to absolve the debt, and thus to cancel the relationship.

This is not to preclude a receiver from giving gifts to a giver; in fact, such gifts may fittingly be given to confirm…

Enlaces a la revista y al artículo:

1.- http://muse.jhu.edu/issue/31170

2.- http://muse.jhu.edu/article/564639/pdf

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  1. ¡Muchísimas gracias, Mila! Estás en todo 😉

  2. fergp dice:

    ¡Nivelazo!

  3. Historiadora en proceso dice:

    Este artículo lo leí hace un par de días por casualidad y madre mía. Es de los mejores que he leído sobre la novela. Es maravilloso, merece muchísimo la pena para los amantes de Orgullo y Prejuicio, que somos así como una legión.

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