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pride and prejudice

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Inner-Outer Correspondences

If I cannot complain or try to outwardly change my partner, then how else am I to improve our relationship? By discovering the inner correspondences in oneself for every behavior and attribute that you find disturbing or objectionable in your partner. At first reading, this statement may have a bitter taste. But in fact it offers a powerful and uplifting means for us to acquire greater self-knowledge and mastery in our own lives. According to the highest wisdom, everything that comes to us comes because it represents some characteristic in ourselves or provides some experience which is essential for the evolution of our consciousness and our fulfillment in life. Often what comes seems diametrically opposed to what we are, what we do and what we believe. Yet when we examine the correspondences more carefully we discover that it represents a parallel or mirror image reflection of ourselves - direct, indirect or even inverted - but always it represents something for us to outgrow.

Discovering the reality of inner-outer correspondences requires some study, thought and effort. If you want to acquire that knowledge, see the examples on this site, read the novel Pride & Prejudice, watch the five-part BBC video version of the novel, and study the articles on http://www.prideandprejudice.info/. If you still have questions, send them to us.

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Pride and Prejudice Summary

Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice revolves around the lives and loves of the Bennet family. Mr. and Mrs. Bennet and their five daughters are the principle inhabitants of the village of Longbourn. Mr. Bennet is an intelligent but indolent gentleman. His wife is an energetic, silly woman whose main aim in life is to get her daughters married. The arrival of a wealthy bachelor, Bingley, inspires her with the mission of making one of her daughters his wife.

Jane, the beautiful and mild eldest Bennet daughter, attracts Bingley's eye when they are first introduced at a dance. Jane is also charmed by Bingley's pleasant, friendly nature. By contrast, Bingley's even wealthier friend, Darcy, appears pompous and arrogant. When Bingley suggests that Darcy dance with Jane's intelligent and lively sister, Elizabeth, Darcy slights her by replying that she is, 'tolerable, I suppose, but not handsome enough to tempt me.' Lizzie is astonished to hear such censure, but laughs it off with her best friend, Charlotte Lucas.

At subsequent meetings, Darcy observes Elizabeth closely and is captivated by her playful manner, fine eyes and clever wit. When he finally decides to approach her for a dance, she turns him down and refuses to hold him in awe because of his wealth and status, as almost everyone else in Meryton does. Sensing he is dealing with an individual of superior character, his fascination for her grows.

When Jane is invited to Bingley's home, Netherfield, by his sister Caroline, Jane falls ill and is bedridden there for days. Lizzie goes to Netherfield to nurse her sick sister. She finds being in close company with Darcy unpleasant and is convinced that he disapproves of everything she says and does. In reality, his opinion of her is quite the opposite. Meanwhile, Jane and Bingley become more attached to one another with each passing day.

Mr. Bennet's cousin, Mr.Collins, an insensible, foolish young man, who arrives at Longbourn with the intention of marrying one of the Bennet girls. He considers himself an ideal match for any of the girls, since as the only male descendent in the family, he will inherit the entire Bennet estate after Mr. Bennet's demise. Prompted by Mrs. Bennet, Collins selects Elizabeth as the lucky beneficiary of his largesse, though she is far from flattered by this distinction.

Besides, Darcy, there is another contender for Elizabeth's affections. A regiment of militia has just arrived in the nearby town of Meryton, and Elizabeth, her younger sisters Kitty and Lydia, as well as just about every other girl in the neighborhood are powerfully attracted to a handsome and charming scoundrel named Wickham. The son of an estate manager, Wickham spent the early part of his life growing up on Darcy's estate, Pemberley, but his relationship with the Darcy family broke down after he turned wild and took to dissipation. Arriving in Meryton and being introduced to Elizabeth, Wickham began to spread false and scandalous tales about how Darcy has deprived him of his rightful inheritance, which she and the general public of Meryton where quite read to believe. His stories captivated Elizabeth and fueled an intense hatred for Darcy.

When Bingley holds a grand ball at Netherfield, Darcy finally succeeds in getting Elizabeth to dance with him. She takes the occasion to poke fun at Darcy and insinuate that she knows the truth about his unfair treatment of Wickham. Darcy is enraged, but keeps his opinion to himself. The more she prods and offends him, the more strongly he is attracted to her, but his attraction is overshadowed by his revulsion of her mother and younger sisters' vulgar, embarrassing and unmannerly behavior in public. Fearful that he may be unable to resist his rising passion for Elizabeth, Darcy looks to escape from Meryton.

Immediately following the ball, Collins proposes to Elizabeth. She is amused and annoyed by his dogged foolishness. When he refuses to believe she is refusing him, she is forced to turn him down emphatically. Collins is deeply offended by her refusal. Mrs. Bennet is furious and horrified that Elizabeth rejected an opportunity to keep the estate within their family. Collins seeks refuge for his humiliation by accepting a dinner invitation from Charlotte Lucas. The very next day he proposes Charlotte. Mrs. Bennet's sense of disappointment and loss is further aggravated when she learns the next day that Bingley and his party have left abruptly for London.  

Jane is devastated by news of Bingley's unexplained departure, but doesn't reproach or complain to anyone. Her aunt and uncle, the Gardiners, invite her to London for a change of scenery. Elizabeth soon learns that Wickham is engaged to Mary King who has just come into a fortune, but neither is she devastated nor is she disapproving of Wichkam's mercenary attitude.

Three months later, Elizabeth receives an invitation from Charlotte to spend six weeks with her and Collins at Hunsford, where he has been appointed to a lucrative clerical position by Lady Catherine de Bourgh, his overbearing and offensive patroness who happens to be Darcy's aunt. Soon after her arrival at Hunsford, Elizabeth again comes into contact with Darcy when he arrives for his annual visit to his aunt's estate.

Darcy is torn between a growing love for Elizabeth and his repulsion of her family and social connections. His passion proves stronger than his reservations.

When Elizabeth learns from Darcy's cousin that Darcy was instrumental in separating Bingley and Jane, her dislike for Darcy becomes more intense. Unsuspecting her real feelings about him, Darcy  proposes to her in an insulting and boorish manner, taking for granted that she would readily accept him. His proposal comes at a time when she is filled with anger and pain. She rejects him rudely. She accuses him of heartlessly separating Jane and Bingley and of cruelly depriving Wickham of a lucrative position. Darcy is shocked to find his character and integrity questions and to hear himself called ungentlemanly. She tells him in no uncertain words that he is the last man she would ever marry. His intended proposal ends in a violent quarrel between them.

Wishing to clear his name, the following morning Darcy writes to Elizabeth explaining in detail the truth about Wickham's character, the reasons for his very poor opinion of her family and his justification for  trying to save Bingley from an unfortunate marriage to Jane. Pondering Darcy's words, Elizabeth realizes the truth in his position and the contribution of her own family for Bingley's departure. She now sees Wickham for the scoundrel he is, and feels ashamed of her own foolish behavior. Darcy for his part, recognizes for the first time that he has been acting arrogantly and selfishly. They both depart from Hunsford certain that there is little chance they will ever meet again.

Back home at Meryton, Jane and Elizabeth are disillusioned, Mrs.Bennet is depressed, but the youngest sister, Lydia, is filled with excitement by the prospect of going to Brighton to spend time with friend and in the company of the handsome militia officers who have been transferred to a new location. Elizabeth objects to Lydia's going, but her father disregards her warnings and allows Lydia to go.

During the summer, Elizabeth is invited by the Gardiners to accompany them on a vacation in Derbyshire, the county where Darcy lives at Pemberly. Hearing Darcy is away in London, Elizabeth and the Gardiners visit Pemberley and are astounded by the magnificence of the estate. the beauty of the place combined with the housekeeper's praise of Darcy stir softer feelings in Elizabeth for Darcy. Just then he arrives unexpectedly. His courteous behavior takes her by surprise. The following days they constantly frequently and she feels much more cordial feelings for him than she has ever felt in the past.

Just at the moment when Darcy begins to feel there is hope of renewing his proposal to her, Elizabeth is suddenly taken away by distressing news from home. Lydia has eloped with Wickham, who had promised to marry her. But Elizabeth is sure that Wickham has no such intention, since Wickham needs to marry a girl with wealth to pay off his considerable debts and Lydia has no money to offer. In a moment of utter distress, Elizabeth confesses the dreadful news to Darcy, then rushes back to Longbourn sure that this disgraceful act of Lydia will forever prevent Darcy from renewing his proposal to her.

There she finds the who family depressed and anxious for news about Lydia. After a month, they are surprised to receive a letter from Mr. Gardiner informing them that he has negotiated arrangements for Wickham and Lydia to marry and agreed to bear the expense of paying Wickham's debts. When the shameless Lydia returns to Longbourn as Mrs. Wickham along with her husband, she accidently discloses that Darcy was present at her wedding. Unable to imagine how or why Darcy would involve himself with Wickham, she writes to her aunt Mrs. Gardiner for an explanation. Elizabeth is left speechless by Mrs. Gardiner's reply. She has been under the impression that Darcy would find her family disreputable and consequently avoid her. But on the contrary, after her departure from Pemberley, Darcy sought out Wickham in London, convinced him to marry Lydia, agreed to pay all his debts, get him a post in the army, and bear all the marriage expenses. He also insisted on keeping his role a secret, forcing Mr. Gardiner to take the credit. To Mrs. Gardiner it is evident that did it all out of love for Elizabeth.

Before long, Bingley and Darcy return to Netherfield back. Bingley is still very much in love with Jane. Now with his friend's approval, he proposes to Jane and she accepts most happily. On hearing a rumor that Darcy is engaged to Elizabeth, Lady Catherine de Bourgh suddenly arrives at Longbourn and attempts to intimidate Elizabeth into renouncing any possible relationship with Darcy. Lizzie is perplexed by the rumor, but resolutely refuses to bow to the lady's unreasonable demands. When news of Elizabeth's refusal reaches Darcy, his hopes of marrying her revive, and he renews his proposal. Elizabeth who has now been waiting eagerly for this, accepts him willingly. Elizabeth's announcement is initially shocking to most, but soon the entire family rejoices with the wedding of two sisters.

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Pride and Prejudice

Pride & Prejudice is a deeply insightful, wonderfully delightful exploration of the varied social and psychological relationships between man and woman. Proud, passionate Darcy falls in love against his own better judgment with an intelligent, highly individualistic woman who intensely dislikes him. Beautiful naïve Jane longs for marriage to a silly, affectionate man of considerable wealth. A handsome, charming rogue hunts for a wealthy wife, but succumbs to the lure of promiscuous teenager. The ambitious, pompous and extremely foolish Collins wins an intelligent, reliable wife in need of material and social security. A prosperous, cultivated gentleman marries a beautiful, brainless, highly energetic lawyer’s daughter and gives birth to a remarkable spectrum of offspring with untold consequences. Beauty, charm, character, goodness, pride, arrogance, jealousy, falsehood and unscrupulousness combine in passionate attractions, bitter conflict, prolonged tension, intense reaction, disappointment, disillusionment, love, marriage and romantic fulfillment.


Plot Summary

Bingley is violently in love with Jane and the entire town expects them to marry shortly, until he inexplicably goes away. Jane's sister Elizabeth hates Bingley's friend Darcy for separating the lovers. Darcy harbors a secret passion for Elizabeth and shocks her by suddenly proposing marriage. Sensible and shrewd Charlotte courts and marries the foolish and pompous Collins. Pride and Prejudice explores relationships that blossom between people of different backgrounds and personalities. Read a detailed plot summary.


Articles on Pride and Prejudice


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Order the Movie or the Book

Click on the images to order the movie or book from Amazon
Directed by Simon Langton
Written by Jane Austen
Adapted by Andrew Davies
Starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth
Copyright belongs to BBC



External Links

  • LifeinLiterature.org contains in-depth analysis of the plot, characters, relationships and society, and line-by-line commentary of Pride and Prejudice as well as other great works of literature. The site provides original insights into the characters, events, and life.
  • The Human Science Wiki explores the character of life, social evolution and spiritual truths in Pride and Prejudice.
  • BBC Drama features episode guides, photo gallery and behind the scenes information about the 6-episode mini series.
  • The Internet Movie Database, IMDb  has information related to the movie and its actors.
  • Wikipedia provides the plot summary, background, publication history and extensive links to sites on Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen and the various adaptations of the story.
  • The Republic of Pemberley  is an online community dedicated to the appreciation of the work of Jane Austen. The site contains chat rooms and bulletin boards, and reproduces Austen's novels in their entirety, annotated with hyperlinks and augmented by discussion boards.
  • Project Gutenberg lets you read Pride and Prejudice online or download the book in plain text, HTML, PDF or other formats.


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Class, Caste, Culture & Marriage

Romantic attraction is not merely a matter of physical and emotional preferences. Human beings are social creatures. More often than not, what other people think of our partner is as important as our own personal opinion. One young woman wrote to IRES stating that she had decided to give up a boyfriend whom she liked very much because he was a very poor dresser and would not be acceptable to her friends. That may sound extreme to some, but most of us take the views of family or friends into consideration in one way or another. Differences in wealth, social status, culture, class and religion may seem dated and irrelevant in today's cosmopolitan, egalitarian world. But in most cases the outer distinctions which society makes correspond to real psychological differences between people that may seem irrelevant during the early stages of infatuation. But when relationships founded on romantic attraction eventually settle down to more mundane daily life, these differences can resurface with vehement force and override all other considerations. The secret formula for successful relationship involves a delicate balance between similarity and difference. The contrasts are the source of the energy and intensity that characterize true romance. The similarities are the source of the underlying harmony which supports stable and lasting relationship.

Frank & Megan (A Summer Story)

On first impression the lure of personal appeal may be so strong that it overrides social considerations, only to reappear later on and play havoc with a relationship. While on a hike in rural England in 1902, Frank Ashton, a handsome, good-natured young lawyer from London, chances to meet a beautiful, innocent country girl, Megan David, and they fall in love. He postpones his return to the city in order to spend a few days at the farm owned by Megan's aunt and her cousin Joe. Joe had long ago laid claim to Megan as his future wife, but never succeeded in getting her consent to tie the knot. Megan is fully charmed by Frank's elegant behavior, poetic inspiration and genuine attraction for her. Frank is infatuated by Megan's natural beauty and sincere behavior, unadorned by fancy dress or fine manners. After confessing their mutual affection, they have a brief love affair, before Megan's aunt senses coming trouble and asks Frank to leave.

Frank tells Megan he will go to the nearest town, Torquay, to draw some money from the bank and then return to take her back with him to London and eventually make her his wife. She questions whether he could ever be content with a country girl like her. Under the aura of her presence, Frank assures her that he would and asks her to meet him the following night at a rendezvous, so they can go away together. On reaching Torquay, Frank goes to the bank and is told it will take at least five hours to get the necessary telegraphic confirmation from his bank in London, which means he will miss the train back to Megan and  be late for their rendezvous. Meanwhile he runs into an old college friend and his friend's beautiful, flirtatious sister Stella. They compel him to spend the intervening time in their company, during which Stella develops an attraction for Frank. Frank returns to the bank that afternoon to find that the telegram has not yet arrived, so he is forced to remain the night in Torquay and hope to catch the last train of the week the following morning. He and Stella spend the evening together and begin to develop feelings for one another.

Frank knew that he was honor bound to return for Megan after promising to do so, but the longer he was away from her and the more time he spent with Stella, the more he became conscious of the great social distance separating him from the beautiful country lass and the less eager he was to live up to his promise. His inability to draw the money and return on schedule were reflections of his own subconscious reluctance to do so. The next morning Frank rushed to the bank and was finally able to get his money after a protracted negotiation, but by then he was too late to catch the train back to Megan. By now he had begun to feel that Providence was preventing his return. He was also unaware that Megan arrived in Torquay the same morning and has been walking the streets searching for him. Walking on the beach with Stella, Frank suddenly spies Megan in the distance. He follows her with the intention of catching up, but decides at the last moment not to pursue her. She leaves and they never meet again. Twenty years later, he returns to the farm accompanied by Stella, whom he has married. He learns that when Megan returned to the farm from Torquay, she discovered she was pregnant and died giving birth to Frank's child.

Frank certainly feels love for Megan and wants her, but he lacks the strength to follow his heart in opposition to the prevailing social values of his day. We may rightly fault Frank for his weakness and insincerity, but we should not underestimate the very real challenges that arise in relationships between people from very different social and cultural backgrounds. Megan would have felt as out of place and embarrassed in London society as Frank did sheering sheep on her aunt's farm. She would have been an affectionate partner and mother to his children, but hardly a suitable companion for his public life as an aspiring lawyer. Frank may have been genuinely attracted by her natural beauty and fresh innocence, but he lacked the strength of emotional commitment and idealism to make that a sufficient basis for lasting relationship. Megan was strongly attracted to the gentleness and refinement that education and urban breeding can impart. She felt herself in the presence of a superior human being, mistaking external refinement for real strength of character. Foregoing Joe's intense, but rustic affection, she decided to remain true to Frank and died of a broken-heart.

When Frank returns 20 years later to find out what happened to Megan, we learn that he did marry Stella. The tone of authority with which she gives him instructions says much about the nature of their marriage. Frank has chosen social acceptability over true affection and now he has to live with it. It does not appear that he possessed the strength of character and depth of affection for any other choice.

Anna & Frederick (Lady Anna)

The attraction of high society and culture is wonderfully brought out in this Anthony Trollope novel of a beautiful woman named Josephine who marries a wealthy but depraved earl and gives birth to a baby girl, Anna, before both mother and daughter are disowned and cast out penniless. Wrongfully deprived of wealth and aristocratic title, they are forced to depend on the hospitality and generosity of a tailor and his son, Daniel, for sustenance and protection. In the course of the years they spend together growing up in the same house, Daniel and Anna quite naturally fall in love and secretly pledge to marry when Anna comes of age. She is high born, beautiful, and good-hearted but impoverished. He is low born, intelligent, ambitious and strong. After years of legal wrangling, it appears that the Josephine and Anna may finally regain their titles and vast wealth. The earl's nephew Frederick, who has inherited his title, now stands to lose the entire family property to Anna. In the interest of the family, the lawyers and relatives bring Anna and Frederick together in the hope that they may like each other and agree to marry, reuniting the title and the estate by their alliance.

In spite of initial misgivings, the task proves pleasant enough for Frederick. He finds Anna beautiful, pure, charming and good in every way. With the prospect of fabulous wealth as a bonus, he is readily willing to pledge his heart to the young heiress. For Anna things are more difficult. Fiercely loyal to Daniel out of gratitude for all he and his father have done, she has grave reservations about even meeting Frederick and is firmly set on refusing him. But in consenting to the visit, she failed to take into account the power which culture and refinement add to that of youthful elegance and charming demeanor. Anna finds herself nearly overpowered by the fragrance of his nobility and the softness of his voice and manner. She is unable to deny the striking difference between this beautiful young man and the rough-hewn tailor's son she is pledged to. Only her fierce emotional loyalty and unbending mental determination prevent her from succumbing to the attraction. Asserting against the unrelenting pressure of her mother, she insists on marrying Daniel, but satisfies her relatives by evenly sharing the earl's wealth with Frederick.  

Pride & Prejudice

Attracted by physical beauty or youthful exuberance, many underestimate the importance of social and cultural elements in relationship. Elizabeth's father, Mr. Bennet made that error when he married the lovely and lively daughter of a small town, middle class lawyer. As an educated, intelligent landed aristocrat, he might have known that crossing class boundaries can lead to difficulties later on. Once married, he found himself bound in relationship to a brainless, energetic woman who expressed every random thought that came into her head, complained constantly of nervous agitation and took countless initiatives that embarrassed or annoyed her husband, who finally sought permanent sanctuary in the privacy of his own library. He would have been fortunate had his difficulties ended there, but they did not. Together they gave life to five daughters who inherited a confusing mixture of traits from their parents. The first, Jane, acquired her mother's beauty and lack of intelligence combined with her father's high values and sense of refinement. The second, Elizabeth, inherited her mother's liveliness and boldness combined with her father's intelligence, perception, wit and an indomitable cheerfulness all her own. The third daughter was caught between two stools, acquiring neither beauty nor good sense. The two youngest hopelessly resembled their mother, only on the lower rather than the higher side of her personality, running madly after every handsome man they encountered without a modicum of judgment or self-restraint. 

Tortured for years by the vast cultural differences between them, Mr. Bennet was shocked to find the same issues playing out in the life of his favorite daughter. Darcy struggled for long before deciding to propose to Elizabeth, because he had seen her mother and sisters display their ill-breeding too often and knew that the inferior status of her family would be frowned on by the high society in which he moves. Elizabeth's friend Charlotte urged her not to spurn Darcy's interest in her just because he is proud, arrogant and somewhat offensive, because in Charlotte's view his fabulous wealth and high social status more than offset any personal blemishes in his behavior and character. After rejecting Darcy's initial proposal, she becomes fully conscious for the first time of just how shameful her mother and sisters really are and is distraught when she perceives that she shares many of the same traits herself, though in a less obvious form. A central theme of the story is the personal struggle Elizabeth undergoes to overcome the weaknesses she inherits from her parents, so she truly qualifies herself to marry a man who lives up to her own highest expectations.

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Level 10 Complementarity

Relationships at this level are characterized by ever-increasing joy of harmonious energies. Partners relate to each other through pure self-giving that expects nothing in return and knows there is greater joy in giving than in receiving. They recognize each other as the spiritual complement that fulfills and completes them.

The true basis for human harmonious relationship is not similarity or identity between partners. It is complementarity. Each of us is completed and stimulated to grow by contact with a person of complementary nature who sees, feels and responds differently than we do. Complementarity releases energy for self-discovery and growth. Instead of trying to wipe out or gloss over differences, discover the richness they contain.

Jane & Bingley (Pride & Prejudice)

Accepting another with all their imperfections results in a beautiful relationship. But not noting the imperfections at all ensures perfect and complete harmony. Jane Bennet and Charles Bingley in Pride and Prejudice achieve this level of harmony. From their first meeting, they are happy to be together. She is the most beautiful creature he ever beheld, he feels. He is just what a young man ought to be, she believes. As they get better acquainted with each other, they are convinced more and more of each other's perfection. They never argue or disagree. There is not a single aspect of each other's personality that they would like to change or improve. They do not gloss over each other's faults, ignore them, make excuses for them or forgive them. They simply do not see them. What looks to the rest of the world as Bingley's weakness is to Jane only his modesty. Jane's timidity and reticence make her more angelic to Bingley. This is not a result of infatuation that wears off with time or an illusion that vanishes giving way to reality. This IS reality. They refuse to see the defects out of an idealism of harmony. Rather than expecting perfection in each other and trying to find it, they discover the perfection that is already there.

Ashley & Melanie (Gone with the Wind)

Harmony is an inner state, not an outer condition. The highest level of harmonious relationship can be achieved in the most challenging and impossible external circumstances. It is our response that determines the level of harmony, not life. Wealthy plantation owner Ashley Wilkes married his cousin Melanie in Georgia just before the outbreak of the Civil War and lived to struggle against starvation and death during the darkest days of the Reconstruction that followed the defeat of the South. The hardships they underwent make their story one of the most dramatic and realistic depictions of the destruction and pain wrought by war. During the war Ashley was seriously wounded, captured by the Yankees and incarcerated in a camp of disease-ridden dying prisoners of war. Melanie saw their plantation destroyed and Atlanta burned. Despite her frail health, she nursed wounded soldiers and worked in the fields like a slave to keep herself and her friends alive. When Ashley finally returned from the war, they faced more years of physical hardship and spent the rest of their life together in a meager shack of house sharing what little they had with friends and family.

Yet in spite of the hardship and suffering, no one can recall ever hearing a word of complaint or resentment expressed by either against the other. They loved and cherished one another as though they were one person instead of two and never for a moment blamed their partner for any suffering or deficiency they had to undergo.


Jodhaa Bai and Emperor Akbar (Jodhaa Akbar)

Jodhaa Akbar is a sixteenth century love story about a political marriage of convenience that gave birth to true love between a great Mughal emperor, Akbar, and a Rajput princess, Jodhaa.

Jodhaa is forced to marry the Emperor Akbar to protect her father’s kingdom. Their relationship starts off with a lot of dislike and prejudices. Gradually as they started to live together, she came to feel an awe inspired by his bravery, his fair and just methods of ruling a vast empire, and his strong personality. At the same time, she was amazed by his kindness, goodness of character and respect for her. Akbar in turn was impressed by her beauty, poise and compassion towards others. He fell deeply in love with her but waited for her to reciprocate his love. He built a small temple for her inside her quarters and did not interfere in any of her activities. She learned his language, cooked for him in spite of being the Queen of Hindustan, and when he fell ill, she nursed him with true devotion. They fell deeply in love and their true union took place mentally and physically. They complemented one another and what started as a marriage for political and social obligation turned into a lifetime of eternal love and true devotion.

To raise your relationship to a higher level of harmony, see Strategies to Increase Harmony in Your Relationship

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Level 8 Appreciation

Partners have learned to understand each other's point of view and to genuinely appreciate the truth, value and validity in it.  Relationships at this level are characterized by mutual respect and admiration.

There is always truth in the other person's point of view. It's a universal law without exception, even when that person is your bitter enemy out to destroy you. How much greater is the truth in the viewpoint of the partner who knows you intimately. No matter whether you think your partner's perspective is based on errors, misunderstandings, ignorance or personal preferences, there is always a valid truth in it that deserves recognition and respect. What applies to points of view also applies to every other difference between partners - tastes, preferences, attitudes, sentiments, feelings, habits, etc. Maximum harmony issues from not only conceding the right of your partner to differ from your perspective, but also in striving to genuinely recognize and appreciate the validity of their perspective. Such an effort invariably leads both partners to discover something more true, valuable and suitable than either of their individual perspectives.

Elizabeth & Darcy (Pride & Prejudice)

Differences are a potential problem area for everyone. Ignoring another's defects and preventing minor issues from escalating into problems strengthens the relationship and ensures stability. But what happens when partners actually feel grateful to another for pointing out their faults and both decide to change for the better?

The relationship between Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy begins in conflict, evolves into appreciation and is ultimately transformed into romantic love. When Darcy's first marriage proposal goes wrong, they end up arguing and trading bitter accusations. They part in anger, believing they will never see each other again. But gradually they each begin to see the truth in what the other person said in the heat of argument. After struggling to overcome their egoistic sensitivities, each acknowledges that truth and accepts it. Darcy realizes for the first time that other people rightly perceive him as arrogant and offensive.  Elizabeth acknowledges that her mind was prejudiced and capable of jumping to false conclusions based on scanty evidence. Darcy transforms his outward behavior to remove all traces of egoistic assertion. Elizabeth stops blaming Darcy for her problems and sees the real cause lies within her own family. Eventually they meet again and marry, achieving a relationship that is unique in its harmony.

They have seen each other's darker side. They neither condemn the other nor romanticize their imperfections. They take it as an opportunity to recognize their own inner deficiencies. That makes them humble, tolerant and forgiving. They learn to see themselves from the other's point of view and change, making tremendous psychological progress. Their differences make them endlessly attractive to one another and keep them together. Because of this realization, what was initially considered objectionable becomes admirable, even lovable. They accept these traits in each other's family members too.

To raise your relationship to a higher level of harmony, see Strategies to Increase Harmony in Your Relationship

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Level 7 Tolerance

Disagreements are mild and rare and never dampen the strong bond of positive feeling between them. Partners may not always fully agree or appreciate each other, but they have learned to accept and become tolerant of their differences.

Couples at this level share a strong bond of positive feelings. They are always seen to be loving and considerate to one another. Their mutual acceptance, trust, respect and admiration make their relationship stable and beautiful. Accepting and appreciating another is possible only when we eliminate our own egoistic sense of self-importance and superiority or the notion that our opinions and attitudes are somehow more valid than those of our partner. Acceptance and tolerance are the preconditions for true affection and love. Romance arises not when we find the perfect mate but when we do not even see or notice any defects in the other person, because we relate to the person at a deeper level where these things do not matter. 

A strong positive relationship is a wonderful blessing, but it can always be made stronger and more intense by conscious effort. Learn not to expect anything from your partner. Rather learn to appreciate freshly their every small positive thoughtful initiative. The more conscious attention we give to the positive aspects of our relationship, the more they will increase. Learn to look at every situation from your partner's point of view and appreciate the truth in that viewpoint. Disagreements will disappear. Only differences will remain.

Mr. & Mrs. Gardiner (Pride and Prejudice)



 The Gardiners are a happy and harmonious couple. Even when they disagree, their differences never become personal. Their interactions never become negative. They trust each other. They do not need the other's permission to take a decision. They know they already have it. When their vacation plans are altered because of Mr. Gardiner's work, Mrs. Gardiner is disappointed but doesn't fret or complain, she accepts it cheerfully. When Mr. Gardiner decides to set aside a huge amount of money to help his sister's family, he has his wife's ungrudging support even though they both know it affects the future of their own children. They have similar values, and are always able to see the bigger picture. This perspective enables them to ignore minor differences, while nurturing and strengthening their relationship.

Mae & Jim Braddock (Cinderella Man)

We might not expect to find a high level of harmony in the relationship between a professional boxer and his wife. But the marriage of Mae and James Braddock is an inspiring example of complete acceptance and a great tolerance between the partners under conditions of hardship sufficient to provoke most married couples to constant recrimination and acrimony. Jim is an over-the-hill boxer who has to struggle to find work during the Great Depression and what little he can earn is insufficient to provide food and heating for his wife and three young children during the cold winter months in New York. Jim gets a last chance opportunity to re-enter the ring five years later, Mae trembles with fear for her husband's safety and cannot even bear to attend the matches. They desperately need the money, but still she would rather send the kids to stay with relatives than risk his life. Yet knowing how deeply he yearns for self-respect and success, she supports him through a remarkable comeback to become heavyweight champion of the world. The depth of harmony and love between them is the foundation for Jim's incredible achievement.

To raise your relationship to a higher level of harmony, see Strategies to Increase Harmony in Your Relationship

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Level 6 Compromise

Partners at this level have learned to discuss and disagree on specific issues without disturbance to the underlying positive feeling between them. Relationships at this level are characterized by good manners and behavior at all times.

Most people regard good manners as something to be saved for formal occasions, for our dealings with people outside the family and for personal interactions during the initial stages of a budding relationship. Many couples are not as willing or able to maintain the minimum standards of courtesy after fully committing to a relationship. Good manners are the first casualty in most relationships. Their absence is one of the principle causes for relationships to become contentious and negative.

Many relationships fail not for a lack of love and affection, but simply because the partners fail to maintain minimum levels of good behavior with one another in the privacy of the home. Manners imply respect and consideration for the other person as a human being, which is the very basis for positive, lasting human relationships. The best way to increase harmony and joy is to focus attention on strengthening the bonds of trust and goodwill in the relationship. Then other matters will naturally become less important. Friction between partners can be reduced to a bare minimum if both partners decide to maintain at least a minimum standard of good manners toward one another at all times. Even if your partner is unwilling, your own commitment to good manners can dramatically reduce occasions for unpleasantness.

Relationships in which major disagreements are avoided and minor ones are quickly dismissed attain level 6 status.  Even when the partners strongly disagree with each other, they do so without expressing intense emotions or personal reaction, then quickly put the issue behind them. This ensures that the issue does not escalate and rupture the harmony. Partners at this level recognize that their opinions, preferences, attitudes and habits are not necessarily better, truer or more valid than those of their partner. They are just different. They may not always like or appreciate those differences, but they learn to be tolerant and give a wide latitude of freedom for those differences to co-exist and express. Giving freedom for your partner to be different than you are and patience with your partner, even when you know or feel they are wrong or unfair, is a hallmark of smooth relationships. 

Charlotte and Collins (Pride & Prejudice)

Charlotte and Collins married because they both found it convenient. She was a sensible 27 year old, well past the age when most women were married in her day. She needed the social and financial security that marriage to Collins could provide. Collins, a foolish and pompous man, sought marriage to round off his social achievements. There wasn't much love or affection between them, indeed they hardly knew one another. But they did succeed in offering each other mutual cooperation and a reasonably happy, harmonious relationship that was satisfactory to them both. Collins was always courteous and polite in his interactions with her. She in turn gave him plenty of freedom and ignored his foolish comments and acts without reacting. They never quarreled and rarely disagreed, both playing their roles with perfection. They recognized the good in each other, and ignored or overlooked the rest.

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Level 5 Judgment

Relationships at this level are characterized by superficial politeness but underlying disapproval. Even when partners strongly disagree, they do so without expressing intense emotion or personal reactions. Disharmony may express in a more subtle form as teasing, making fun of one another, mockery or sarcasm.

At this level partners do not openly disagree on every issue or frequently quarrel over major and minor things, but they still constantly judge one another and quietly find fault with their partner's behavior. Judgment is a mental faculty and the very nature of the mind is to find differences and accentuate them. It's a perpetual perfectionist with respect to other people's behavior, though it applies more lenient standards to itself. We all like to think that our judgments are rational, reasonable, objective and unbiased. But the truth is that virtually every opinion and conclusion we formulate is based on our own prior assumptions, preferences, attitudes and points of view.

The idea that other people should accept and conform to our opinions, attitudes, preferences and habits is a fundamental misconception that undermines the harmony and stability of many relationships. The basis of harmony is tolerance, adjustment, compromise and, most of all, patience. A relationship is not private property. It is a public domain, a commons, shared by two people. Love and romance do not come from finding a person who is similar to you or agrees with you on every issue. It comes from finding someone whom you can accept, respect and cherish in spite of and because of the natural and inevitable differences that distinguish you from one another. We do not find fulfillment in relationship by cloning ourselves. Our partner can only fulfill us by supplementing, completing and complementing our character and nature with what we lack.

Mr. and Mrs. Bennet (Pride & Prejudice)

Verbal and non-verbal combat are a way of life in some relationships. There is a constant struggle of wills and underlying tension between the partners that permeates all aspects of their relationship. In some relationships the combat is open warfare that can be heard down the block. In others, it takes the form of a subtle exchange of quips and glances that communicates disapproval or disdain for our partner's conduct. The Bennets conducted their turf battles silently and politely, but their relationship was warfare nonetheless.

When he married her two decades earlier, Mrs. Bennet was the beautiful, vivacious daughter of a wealthy country lawyer. Swept away by her lively cheerful personality, Mr. Bennet overlooked her lack of education and intelligence and the differences in culture between their families. He was the son of a landed aristocrat with a substantial property to manage. A thoughtful, educated, intelligent man, who preferred the company of a good book in the quiet of his library to the chattering gossip that occupied his wife and their five daughters. Having been raised in gentility, Mr. Bennet had not anticipated that his marriage would become a constant battle of wills between him and his wife. Although she obeyed him in all important matters, she worked incessantly behind his back and under his nose to have things her own way.  They have common goals and problems, but do not attempt to work together. They need to get their five daughters married and cannot afford to give dowry, but they are always busy fighting one another. She is always taking initiatives, many of which are inappropriate, never paying any attention to her husband's sound advice. Although normal custom at the time required that the elder daughters be married before the younger could start mixing in public, Mrs. Bennet took a liberal view and succeeded in freeing even fifteen year old Lydia to gallivant with the handsome young military officers in town. She prodded and plagued her husband till he reluctantly agreed to arrange introductions to the wealthy young neighbor, Bingley, who moved into the area. Mr. Bennet knows that doing so could open up an opportunity for his daughters, but refuses simply because his wife orders him to. When Bingley calls at their home seeking to be introduced to his five lovely daughters, Mr. Bennet speaks with Bingley but never calls his wife and daughters into the room. Her husband is more preoccupied with stymieing his wife's initiatives than getting his daughters married. When she and her daughters attend a party where Bingley is present, he hopes his wife will return disappointed by the outcome. What is important is his own petty victory over his wife.

In every act throughout the day, their rivalry plays itself out. She connived with Mr. Collins to force their second daughter, Elizabeth, into a ridiculous marriage alliance, without prior warning to either her daughter or her husband. She pressed so insistently that he reluctantly permitted Lydia to travel to Brighton, where she eloped with a scoundrel and nearly ruined herself and the whole family. She constantly worries about their future, he constantly mocks and makes jokes at her expense. Their entire day is spent in her efforts to dominate and his to undermine her in issues great and small. Being quiet and cultured by temperament, Mr. Bennet never once raises his voice in loud protest against his wife's incessant interference and foolish initiatives. He responded only by a quiet mocking sarcasm which she was not intelligent enough to even understand. He enjoyed teasing her and laughed at her irritation and frustration.

To raise your relationship to a higher level of harmony, see Strategies to Increase Harmony in Your Relationship

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Level 2 Conflict

Relationships at this level are characterized by frequent quarrels, anger, resentment, and emotional confrontations, which make the overall relationship very unpleasant. Partners at this level relate to each other through fear, suspicion, resentment and mutual accusation.

Conflicts and anger arise when our demands and expectations are not met. Harmony arises when we actively strive to accommodate the needs and expectations of the other person. Disharmony raises its head in relationships the moment one or both partners wants to be accepted as and for what they are without having to make an effort or pretense at being better. Before making a commitment, both partners are on their best behavior. Afterwards they may lapse to show their worst. The challenge does not end with courtship, marriage or the honeymoon. It really has only begun. Maintaining harmonious relationships requires constant and continuous effort.  The more effort the partners are willing to put into their relationship, the more rewards they get back. Wanting to take and get from the partner without investing sufficient care and effort in the relationship is a sure basis for conflict.

Ben & Katie (The Story of Us)

Some relationships degenerate into intense disharmony after the initial period of getting acquainted is over, or years later when the dullness of routine family life replaces the novelty of the initial period. Ben and Katie Jordan began their married life full of enthusiasm, love and affection for one another. They gave birth to two beautiful children, moved into a comfortable house and achieved financial security. Fifteen years later they found themselves at each other's throats and ready for divorce. Neither of them had a clear idea what had changed or how it had happened. The very traits that they had initially admired in each other had now become a source of constant irritation, conflict and recrimination. Every issue became an occasion to highlight their differences and lapse into arguments.

Like many real life couples, Ben and Katie came to the conclusion that they were no longer compatible or in love. The truth is that they had come to take each other for granted and they had stopped taking the added effort to make each other happy. The initial out-going attitude of joyous self-giving, which is the kindle for romantic attraction, had turned inward and become selfish and self-centered. The very differences they had cherished now reminded each of them of their own insufficiencies. Rather than tolerating their differences and admiring each other as complements, they became defensive and critical.

Ben and Katie had forgotten the simple truth that no human being responds positively to criticism or becomes a better person because they are criticized by others. We become better when we are loved and accepted, never when we are criticized and rejected. Fortunately, they realized before it was too late that neither of them could ever hope to find a better partner than they already had now. By a conscious decision and commitment, they moved back up the scale of harmony striving to recover the sense of romance they had known years before.

Elizabeth & Darcy (Pride & Prejudice)

Some relationships start negatively and move gradually from disharmony to high levels of harmony as the partners get to know, understand and admire one another. Almost from their first meeting, Elizabeth Bennet developed a resentment and prejudice against Fitzwilliam Darcy, when she observed his stiff, aloof social behavior and accidently overheard him tell a friend that he found her appearance only 'tolerable'. Conscious that he comes from a higher level of society and perceiving that he looks down on people with lesser status and wealth, her prejudice grew in intensity each time they met.

In spite of his rude remarks and her inferior social status, Darcy found himself increasingly attracted to her. After much inner struggle to overcome his own objections to a socially disadvantageous marriage, he was finally driven by the passion of his attraction to propose to her. In the course of his proposal, he explained the serious objections to her family which he had struggled to overcome. She took his explanation as an insult and offence, and rejected him. When Darcy demanded to know why she rejected him without explanation, Elizabeth seized the opportunity to accuse him of spoiling her sister's marriage to his friend and cheating Wickham of his rightful inheritance.  With each exchange, they both grew more angry and resentful, until she finally declared to him that he was the last man in the world she would ever marry.

The relationship between Darcy and Elizabeth began negatively and remained contentious and resentment for months. Ultimately they each discovered that their disharmony arose from their own egoistic and assertive ignorance, pride, and prejudice, not from real deficiencies in the other person. Elizabeth discovered that the source of her resentment against Darcy was completely unjustified. Darcy realized that he had in fact behaved in a most offensive and ill-mannered fashion. Both had the sincerity to recognize the truth and change their attitudes. When they did so, intense and bitter conflict was transformed into the intense sweetness of romantic love. Their story shows that even intense negativity can be converted into equally intense positive relations when partners are genuine and sincere in their willingness to change themselves, rather than to change or condemn one another.

Maud & Roland (Possession)

English poetry professor Maud Bailey meets American researcher Roland Michell in London and together they strive to unravel the secret romance between two Victorian poets. Neither of the moderns seem made for love and certainly not for each other. They are opposites bordering on contradictions. Bailey is guarded, stiff, irritable, almost frigid British academic, who wants to be addressed as Professor and has a prejudice against all things American. Suspicious of any man’s sexual intentions and eager to avoid relationships, she conceals her beauty to avoid attracting attention to herself. Roland is a casual, friendly, irreverent American who distains British formality. He has had enough of unfulfilling and sometimes hurtful relationships centered around sex and is leery of any intimacy. As they uncover details of the passionate love affair between Ash and LaMotte, the poetry of that relationship infiltrates their cold hearts and awakens a flame of real emotional intensity. Maud’s heart melts and she feels tempted by the lure of sexual relationship. Uncharacteristically, it is Roland who pulls back for fear of spoiling a relationship he has come to value far more than physical pleasure. Maud feels confused and rejected. Her old fears and suspicions of intimate relationship resurface and they quarrel, yet the real basis for their quarrel is their deeper emotional attraction to one another which ultimately prevails. Delving beneath their surface differences, they discover bonds of genuine attraction and admiration that elevate the whole relationship to a far higher level.

To raise your relationship to a higher level of harmony, see Strategies to Increase Harmony in Your Relationship

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