Throughout Pride and Prejudice, there have been many characters that have attracted my attention in a negative way. The most obvious was Mrs. Bennet, then Wickham and his lies, and then Lydia and Kitty and their slut shaming attitudes. But above all, Lady Catherine De Bough, specifically in her attitude towards Elizabeth, takes the cake and wins the “Who Annoys Julie The Most Award.”
Congratulations Lady Catherine.
Lady Catherine is an opulent and catty noblewoman, Mr. Collin’s patron, and Darcy’s aunt. Throughout the novel, Lady Catherine tries to direct her prized nephew, Darcy away from Elizabeth. Lady Catherine has always gotten her own way in life, and she has no respect for others. Her greatest trait is telling others what to do in a domineering manner. Trust me, she is very good at it.
Elizabeth was introduced to Lady Catherine when she visited Charlotte and Mr. Collins after their engagement. Lady Catherine immediately starts “grilling” Elizabeth and asking her many personal questions.
“…Delivering her opinion on every subject in so decisive a manner as proved that she was not used to have her judgment controverted. She enquired into Charlotte’s domestic concerns familiarly and minutely, and gave her a great deal of advice, as to the management of them all; told her how everything out to be regulated in so small a family as her’s…”—I could continue this quote on, but I think you get the picture!
In addition, right off the bat, she critiques the Bennet family about their parenting. She said, “If I had known your mother, I should have advised her most strenuously to engage one. I always say that nothing is to be done in education without steady and regular instruction, and nobody but a governess can give it (127).” Lady Catherine, is a rude and nosy woman towards Elizabeth and her family.
At the end of the dinner party, she asks Elizabeth if she knows how to play any instruments (which she should, according to “Lady C.), and then she critiques Elizabeth’s piano skills, and tells her ways to improve, instead of encouraging her. But above all, when Lady Catherine hears rumors that Elizabeth and Darcy are engaged, her actions anger me the most. She immediately goes all the way to Longbourn to find out the truth. She tells Elizabeth that her daughter and Mr. Darcy, are meant to be together. Thankfully, Lady Catherine fails, and gives Mr. Darcy hope in marrying Elizabeth.
Aside from Lady Catherine’s, annoying and b****y attitude, Austen makes her the only woman who is independent in the novel. She is a super-rich widow, and owns her own estate. I do not know what Austen was trying to portray. Maybe she’s trying to say that women and power don’t mix? Is Lady Catherine only there to embarrass Darcy? Is Lady Catherine supposed to be comic relief? There are many unanswered questions about Lady Catherine in Pride and Prejudice, but I do know that she is annoying, rude, selfish, aggressive, overbearing, domineering…the list goes on and on.