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Lady Catherine cherishes the values and behavior of the previous century, living out the role she learned in early childhood. As the daughter of an Earl, she had authority over all around her. In changing times, she insists on the old ways and chooses those who will submit and thrive under such conditions. Collins’ sycophancy and Charlotte’s mercenary values suit her very well. She is gratified by excessive admiration[1]. As Collins’ remarked, “one cannot regard her with too much deference.”[2] In telling Eliza to dress as she can, Collins says, “She likes having the distinction of rank preserved.”[3] She is as boorish in her own way as Mrs. Bennet, so Darcy has no call for pride in family. Darcy was greatly embarrassed by her boorish behavior.

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Her daughter Anne is physically weak and frail. She lacks the biological strength to attract Darcy or represent a suitable partner for a man of character. Anne is crushed under the physical weight of the family’s wealth, which her vital could not support. Unable to bear the burden of responsibility, she becomes sickly, thus preventing decent men of the aristocracy from aspiring to her hand. Lady Catherine seeks to preserve her wealth and status by marrying her daughter to Darcy. Anne has only vanity and arrogance, not strength. When Darcy rejects her, Lady Catherine’s strength is greatly diminished. Because the old status is breaking down, she tries to assert her waning authority in boorish behavior[4].

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  1. P&P, p.145
  2. P&P, p.141
  3. P&P, p.143
  4. P&P, p.154

P&P refers to the Oxford World's Classics edition of Pride and Prejudice, first published in 1980



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