Discuss Jane Austen’s treatment of the theme of marriage in Pride and Prejudice Essay Sample
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Discuss Jane Austen’s treatment of the theme of marriage in Pride and Prejudice Essay Sample
Austen’s view that marriage should be based on a developed knowledge of one another; intellectual and personal compatibility as well as genuine love and attraction was radical for her time. The main views of marriage at the time were that it should be for either economic security of women, because they could not work or inherit, social cohesion, because they were both from the same class, if the marriage was arranged or if the security of financial/land ownership by inter-marriage between “great” families and estates.
Mrs Bennet is introduced with lots of gushing, direct speech such as “But it is, for Mrs Long has just been here and she told me all about it.” This gives the reader the impression that she is slightly nosey and a gossip, whereas Mr Bennet’s character is established with reported speech, making him more in the background of the text, for example when Austen puts “Mr Bennet made no answer.” Simple, short and straight to the point, this gives the reader the idea that Mr Bennet is the same. Mr and Mrs Bennet are an incompatible couple, he is intelligent whereas she is less intelligent and he is constantly putting her down, although she realises and understands the social imperative to marry off her daughters as they would not be able to inherit their father’s money or estate like when Mr Bingley arrives in town and she says, “A single man of large fortune; four or five thousand a year. What a fine thing for our girl!”
He has been retreated to a student and allows Mrs Bennet to indulge in her poor parenting and therefore he is a poor parent by default. Mrs Bennet is very fickle; she changes her mind frequently, like when she first is told Lydia is to marry Wickham. Mr Bennet is always suggesting regret, for instance, his reaction to Lizzie refusing Mr Collins. Throughout the book Austen suggests that they married without real knowledge of each other, at a young age, and that it was based on a physical attraction. These are reasons of which Austen is obviously critical. Mr and Mrs Bennet are an example of what can happen is one marries because of youth or beauty, which Austen describes in the first paragraph of chapter 42, “This is not the sort of happiness which a man in general wish to owe to his wife.”
Austen criticizes marriage without love for either social propriety, Mr Collins, or economic security alone, Charlotte. On page 85 Mr Collins gives his reasons for marrying, he says that it is right for every clergyman to set the example of matrimony in his parish. He also says that marrying will add to his happiness and also that he has been advised and recommended to marry. This is an example of the reasons that most people married for in those days. Austen shows here that Mr Collins has not once mentioned that he wants to marry her, just that he wants to marry, and the fact that he never mentions that he specifically wants to marry her shows he cannot be in love. When he talks of the “violence of my affection,” and speaks of his “animated language” he could not talk in a less enthusiastic or animated language.
It shows that he is clearly not in love with Elizabeth and he is obviously lying about his affection for her. This was common of that time as most people married on recommendation or on social, economic or superficial reasons. Mr Collins also says that as he is to inherit the Bennet’s home, he couldn’t be as happy marrying anyone out of the family considering the girls would be homeless otherwise (when Mr Bennet dies). I think that Mr Collins says this as he knows Elizabeth is intelligent and therefore might see through his faï¿½ade, so she might be more likely to marry him if he provides a valid reason. Charlotte says on pages 100-101, “I am not a romantic, you know, I never was. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr Collins’s character, connections, and situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is as fair as most people can boast on entering the marriage state.”
In this passage, Charlotte illustrates the opposite view to Elizabeth. Elizabeth is extremely romantic and believes only marrying for love, like Austen, whereas Charlotte represents society’s mass view. On pages 122 and 123 it is evident that Charlotte and Mr Collins are incompatible. Mr Collins is overly formal and often says things that embarrass Charlotte, as you can tell when Austen says, “Once or twice she could discern a faint blush; but in general Charlotte wisely did not hear” you can imagine that Mr Collins does this often and that Charlotte had become accustomed to it and has now chosen to ignore him. Considering this is only the beginning of the marriage this can only get worse and could become the kind of relationship Mr and Mrs Bennet have.
Lydia and Mr Wickham have a totally incompatible marriage based on lust. They were forced into marriage because of the scandal of Lydia sleeping with him prior to marriage. You could think Mr and Mrs Bennet are partly to blame for Lydia running away and causing uproar because of their poor parenting. They allowed Lydia too much freedom, as she was “running around with officers” from a young age. This is typical of a youngest child to be more rebellious and yet the parents seem to expect it. For example on page 130 Elizabeth tells Lady Catherine that all five Bennet daughters are out at once.
Lady Catherine seems shocked that the younger daughters are out before the eldest is married. Elizabeth says that “Yes, my youngest is not sixteen. Perhaps she us full young to be in much company” but because Jane “may not have the means inclination to marry early” the older daughters find it unfair to deny the younger sisters of company and the entertainment that the others find at such events. Therefore this shows that the youngest daughter is more likely to be spoilt as Lydia has because, as Elizabeth says, “the last born has as good a right to the pleasures of youth as the first.” On page 170, Lydia talks of a bonnet that she bought in Brighton. She says, “I do not think it is very pretty; but I thought I might as well buy it as not.”
This shows that she is spoilt and has free rein. She isn’t shown right and wrong, or what is acceptable, this reinforces the fact that Mr and Mrs Bennet are poor parents. Daughters are encouraged to marry rich men so they can be comfortable and secure yet, because Lydia has “grown up” too quickly and is still very immature, whenever Lydia is allowed control of money of her own financed she spend is immediately on things of little need or importance. When Lydia asks her sister what has happened to them all on page 171 she quickly turns to asking whether they’ve has any flirting or seen any “pleasant men” by this she means attractive so Austen is again showing us how shallow Lydia is and how she only cares about superficial things. Lydia also talks of how Jane is becoming too old to marry, and she also implies that she would like to marry young, preferably before her sisters.
This shows she just wants to marry quickly and also shows her immaturity, because it reflects a child wanting to win, her parents should have taught her that marriage is not a game. On page 172 Austen again demonstrates that Lydia has not been taught well on how to behave as she is always acting immature and playing games or making jokes, for example when they pretended there was nobody on the coach, which was not acceptable for a lady in those days. She also talks of how she “treated” her sisters to a luncheon, which Jane and Elizabeth actually paid for. This shows she is always handed things on a plate and that she expects things to be done for her. One sentence stands out in Chapter 39, as saying that most about Lydia. It says, “She seldom listened to anybody for more than half a minute.”
I think this summarizes Lydia’s personality as it shows that she is very selfish and only cares about what is important to her. Mr Bennet says, “Lydia will never be easy till she has exposed herself in some public place or other, and we can never expect her to do it with so little expense or inconvenience to her family as under the present circumstances” on page 179. This shows that not only are Lydia’s parents aware of what Lydia is likely to do, they expect it. Also it shows Lydia will disregard her family and what’s beneficial to them, just to make herself know and to impress. This is also obvious in Chapter 46, where Lydia has eloped with Wickham. But, this event also shows that Lydia is irresponsible and has been persuaded by Wickham. When Lydia returns as a married woman, the way in which she presents herself shows that she sees marriage as some sort of game with which she might impress her friends.
She says, “I though it would be very good fun if I was”, referring to marriage, this shows she has a childish, unrealistic view of marriage, like her game is to act grown up and adult. She also says “I was afraid they might not” and “so that he might see the ring” this shows that by not talking of how happy she is being married and instead talking of how she wants people to know, she has not real feelings for Wickham. By the ends Lydia’s game becomes reality and she is constantly travelling to be away from Wickham “and with the Bingley’s they both of them frequently stayed so long, that even Bingley’s good humour was overcome.” Lydia and Wickham’s relationship was just an initial sexual attraction and infatuation that was forced to become a marriage.
Lady Catherine de Bourgh represents the view that marriage is about “great” families joining up estates and containing wealth. She hints that she intends her daughter to marry Mr Darcy the first clue shows itself when Austen says, “his cousin, for whom he was evidently destines by Lady Catherine” this seems like she almost means to be sarcastic when she uses the word ‘destined’ as Austen thinks destiny is all about love and compatibility. On pages 272 and 273, Lady Catherine talks to Elizabeth about rumours that are circulating that Lizzy is to marry Mr Darcy. Lady Catherine says, “This match, to which you have the presumption to aspire can never take place.” The word ‘aspire’ shows that Lady Catherine thinks Elizabeth is of a lower class or standard of hers or Darcy’s ‘great’ families. She says, “from their infancy , they have been intended for each other” this is an example of one of the reasons for marriage that Austen is so sceptical of, as she believed in marrying for love and no one can be in true love at infancy.
Jane Bennet and Mr Bingley are an example of good match and Austen approves of their reasons and foundations of their relationship. It is based on personal compatibility and genuine love and attraction. The main point Austen is making through their story is hoe hard it is for genuine love to triumph in her society. They have to overcome many hurdles such as Caroline Bingley, Mr Bingley’s sister along with Mr Darcy tries to stop it, and also that they’re from different social classes. Mr Bingley quickly falls in love falls in love with Jane, as he says, “Oh! She is the most beautiful creature ever beheld!” Jane later confided in Elizabeth what she thought of Mr Bingley, “He is just what a young man ought to be.” Mr Bingley and Jane are both attracted to each other from the first instance, with reasons based on genuine affection and romance.
Mr Darcy’s opinion is extremely important to Mr Bingley, as Darcy was clever, Darcy is seen and the superior one and therefore has some sort of hold on Bingley over which sometimes it may come across that, he rules. Austen is critical of the way in which her society rarely enables couple to get to know each other properly, she expresses through Lizzy’s conversation on page 19. Elizabeth and Charlotte talk of Jane and Mr Bingley and how, as Jane is quiet and shy, it makes it makes it difficult for the couple to understand each other’s characters. For example on page 20 Elizabeth says, “She has only known him for only a fortnight. She danced four dances with him at Meryton; she saw him one morning at his own house, and has since dined in company with him four times.
This is not quite enough to make her understand his character.” Also on page 20, charlotte talks of happiness in marriage being a matter of chance. She says, “If she were married to him to-morrow I should think she had as good a chance of happiness as if she were studying his character for a twelve-month.” In some ways Charlotte is right as knowing someone’s character completely won’t change who they are but it will cause you to know how to deal with your partner’s faults and it helps you to know whether you are compatible which is what Austen believes is the most important thing. On pages 30 and 31 Mr Bingley’s sisters and Darcy express their disapproval of the match they talk of Jane’s family, “with such a father and mother, and such low connections,” and how Elizabeth enjoys less common activities for a young woman such as walking and reading, “do you prefer reading to cards? That is rather singular.”
It seems like Mr Bingley’s sister are trying to convince him that Jane is not suitable for him. On page 80, there is evidence of Mr Bingley and Jane becoming more in love. This is shown by Elizabeth and Mrs Bennet’s excitement at Jane’s match. When Austen talks of Elizabeth’s view she says, “made her as happy as Jane” this shows that not only is Jane extremely happy in her current stage with Mr Bingley but also that maybe she isn’t as shy about her affection for Mr Bingley as she was earlier in the book. Austen also talks of “a match of true affection,” which shows that Austen approves of the match and that the couple are truly compatible. Mrs Bennet is obviously very pleased with the match and proud of her daughter, but she continually talks of the proposed marriage. She talked “freely, openly, and of nothing else but of her expectation that Jane would be soon married to Mr Bingley.”
This may have jeopardized the union of Jane and Mr Bingley. In chapter 21 Jane receives a letter from Caroline Bingley, speaking of the family’s recent departure for London. Jane’s “countenance changed as she read it” and she was “dwelling intently on some particular passages.” Jane seemed upset at the content of the letter and it isn’t surprising when she explains what Caroline has said: “are on their way to town-and without any intention of coming back again.” The way that this little letter takes up a vast amount of space in the book shows that this is a major event in the story; I think the letter is used to show the intensity of Jane’s affection for Mr Bingley. At the thought of losing Mr Bingley she gets upset and angry. Caroline gives the impression that Mr Bingley intends to marry Miss Darcy by saying “her being hereafter our sister” and “My brother admires her greatly already” she is misleading Jane greatly as this is not the case at all. It seems like Caroline is purposely trying to hurt or provoke Jane by saying “when I call Charles most capable of engaging any woman’s heart.”
Jane, seeing the good in everyone, assumes that Caroline is telling the truth and immediately gets defensive of Caroline and herself, “if she suspects the nature of my feelings for him, she means (most kindly!) to put me on my guard?” I think Austen is using this event as a litery device to show that trust is a vital part of a relationship, she trusts Caroline (who she sees as a friend) so therefore believes that Mr Bingley is intending to marry Miss Darcy and Jane feels disappointed by Mr Bingley’s departure. This is similar to any ‘betrayal’ of trust, and anybody who feels they have been betrayed by someone they love feels hurt and upset (as Jane does), which shows Jane is indeed in love with Mr Bingley. On pages 144-145 Elizabeth is having a conversation with Colonel Fitzwilliam about how Mr Darcy had “lately saved a friend from the inconveniences of a most imprudent marriage,” Fitzwilliam not knowing the “names or any other particulars” continued to talk of this ‘inconvenience’ whilst Lizzy seemed to have guessed that this imprudent marriage was reference to her sister.
She tries to keep calm so not to raise any suspicion of who the girl could be, yet she gets increasingly annoyed with Fitzwilliam and also with the idea of Mr Darcy interfering, saying such things as “Why was he to be the judge?” This is quite ironic because the title, “Pride and Prejudice” refers to Mr Darcy’s pride and Elizabeth’s prejudice, so she can hardly think badly of Mr Darcy because of his premature judgement. Elizabeth says “Why, upon his own judgement alone, he was to determine and direct in what manner that friend was to be happy.” I think this sentence shows that she is not only annoyed that there “were some very strong objections against” her sister but also that this may reflect the whole family, including herself which isn’t good for someone who has to some extent feelings for Mr Darcy.
Mr Darcy and Mr Bingley’s family’s disapproval is used to show that true love is usually forced to overcome obstacles and to prevail they must show that only their love and views for each other matters. These obstacles are overcome when Mr Bingley proposes to Jane on pages 266-267. In the third paragraph, Austen uses words such as “punctual” and “communicative”, I think these show that Bingley’s “appointment” is very formal and maybe that Bingley is very nervous. Nerves are usually a sign of young love, and this can be echoed when Elizabeth walks into the drawing room and finds Jane and Bingley there. “The faces of both, as they hastily turned around and moved away from each other, would have told it all.” This shows that they still feel slightly nervous of what people think of their relationship, but they must have real feeling and passion for each other because they were “engaged in earnest conversation” which clearly meant a conversation concerning marriage and the way Austen uses the word ‘engaged’ as a hint to the reason for their discussion.
Jane shows the intensity of her feelings and of her happiness when she says “I do not deserve it. Oh! Why is not everybody as happy!” Her gushing speech shows that she is extremely happy and is still in the stages of coming to terms with what has just happened. When, on page 267, Bingley is in the room with Elizabeth after talking to Mr Bennet, allows Bingley’s true feelings to come through to reader as Jane’s have just done. He talked “of his own happiness, and of Jane’s perfections” which shows that Jane and Mr Bennet are both compatible and in love. Austen uses Jane Bennet and Mr Bingley to show that true love can prevail through adversity and can win against society.
Austen’s view that marriage should be based on a developed knowledge of one another’s characters, compatibility as well as genuine love and attraction is shared by the character, Elizabeth, and Lizzy is often used as a mouthpiece for Austen’s own views. Therefore, I think that Darcy and Elizabeth are Austen’s model for the ideal couple. This is because they are intellectually and personally compatible, neither is foolish (Darcy’s reasons for advising Bingley against the connection with Jane is less social incompatibility than concern that his friend that his friend is not hurt – “though she received his attentions with pleasure, she did not invite them by any participation of sentiment” just as Lizzy had been concerned in case Jane got hurt). Just as Jane and Bingley, they have to overcome social barriers for their love to triumph, yet they also have to overcome their own “Pride” (Darcy) and “Prejudice” (Elizabeth).
On page 11, Darcy says, “She is tolerable” referring to Elizabeth but his behaviour before this statement shows that he though otherwise. “He looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till catching her eye” I think this shows that he found her very attractive. Darcy snubs Lizzy on page 23 when he refuses to dance by Sir William Lucas saying “though this gentleman dislikes the amusement in general, he can have no objection, I am sure, to oblige us for one half-hour” This was preceded by Elizabeth withdrew her hand when Sir Lucas took her hand and ‘gave’ it to Mr Darcy. She also said “Mr Darcy is all politeness” which I think is meant in a sarcastic tone, yet I think both Darcy and Lizzy are fond of each other but one is too proud and one is too prejudiced. Later in the conversation Mr Darcy admits his affection for Elizabeth when he says, “the very great pleasure which a pair of fine eyes in the face of a pretty woman can bestow” and when Miss Bingley asked who his affections where for he replied, “Miss Elizabeth Bennet.” Miss Bingley seems shocked at this as Mr Darcy usually wouldn’t admire any woman of lesser social standing.
This openness of his affection for her is again echoed when Mrs Hurst, Miss Bingley, Mr Bingley were having a discussion about the faults of Jane, Elizabeth and their surrounding family. Miss Bingley said to Mr Darcy, “I am afraid, Mr Darcy, that this adventure has rather affected your admiration of her fine eyes” and with this Mr Darcy replied very boldly, “Not at all, they were brightened by the exercise.” This shows that he isn’t paying attention to others’ views of Elizabeth which is very out of character for the proud Darcy. On page 33 there is evidence of there intellectual compatibility when they are discussing what an accomplished young lady’s skills must comprise of.
This discussion of views shows that Elizabeth is not scared to show her intelligence in such a way as many women of the time were. Mrs Hurst and Miss Bingley join the conversation after Elizabeth has ‘insulted’ her own sex, yet they couldn’t come up with a substantial argument to stop Darcy from coming back with “Undoubtedly, there is meanness HuHHin all the arts which ladies sometimes condescend to employ for captivation. Whatever bears affinity to cunning is despicable.” This then ends the women’s negativity on Elizabeth’s views and instead turns the remark onto all women. I think the choice of the word “captivation” is used because, whilst dehumanising men, it shows his contempt for the games that are played during courtship.
“Elizabeth, having rather expected to affront him, was amazed at his gallantry; but there was a mixture of sweetness and archness in her manner which made it difficult for her to affront anybody; and Darcy had never been so bewitched by any woman as he was by her. He really believed that were it not for the inferiority of her connections, he should be in some danger” This is the first sure sign of Elizabeth and Darcy falling in love. Whereas before they only saw each other’s flaws, at this point they see through and beyond their faults. This emphasizes the thought that they are Austen’s model of ideal. This description of their feelings would be perfect if it were not for the mention of her inferior connections. I think this is there to remind the reader that there are still obstacles to overcome (his pride and her prejudice) and that true love never did run smoothly. One obstacle on page 137 is slowly being beaten, and that is Darcy’s pride.
During this conversation with Elizabeth (who is being extremely impertinent) and Fitzwilliam, Elizabeth points out one of his flaws, and instead of becoming very defensive he admits them. “I certainly do not have the talent which some people possess of conversing easily with those I have never seen before” this gives a sense of vulnerability about Darcy, which part of falling in love. To get close enough to someone to love them you must open up and allow yourself to be vulnerable, which means Darcy is allowing himself to get closer to Elizabeth. From this conversation, where they both point each other’s faults, we can see that they are developing knowledge of each other’s character which Austen though was essential. In chapter 34, Darcy proposes,”In vain have I struggled. It will not do.
My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” He then goes on to talk of what discouraged him at first from proposing, and Elizabeth replies with “I have never desired your good opinion, and you have certainly bestowed it most unwillingly.” Darcy seemed to expect a favourable response from Lizzy, and when he received such a negative one, he was shocked and thought her response rude. This shows that his pride still has not completely been overcome, because he still sees himself as higher in social hierarchy which shouldn’t matter in love. Darcy is also used to having people regard his opinion very highly, so it is a shock for him to find someone who does not.
Elizabeth brings up how Darcy separated Bingley and Jane, the way she says, “the means of ruining, perhaps for ever, the happiness of a most beloved sister” shows that she believes in true love, because if she believed in marrying in social or financial reasons then she would not think splitting up a young couple in love would ruin her sister’s happiness for ever. During this chapter I think Austen is trying to show the toughest part of their story, this is when they must both face up to their “Pride” and “Prejudice”, and the rest of their faults, that’s why Austen has mentioned these words so frequently. Elizabeth’s prejudice is shown when she says “Long before it had taken place my opinion of you was decided” and I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry.” This illustrates that Elizabeth judged Darcy before she knew his character and therefore made it more difficult to develop knowledge of his character because she had already decided her opinion on him. “Forgive me for having taken up so much of your time, and accept my best wishes for your health and happiness.”
This way of ending the conversation shows that now that their feelings have been shared, with his rejection he now has gone back to the cold politeness of acquaintances. After Darcy as left Elizabeth seems stunned and very flattered that “she should receive an offer of marriage from Mr. Darcy! That he should have been in love with her so many months! So much in love as to wish to marry her in spite of all the objections which had made him prevent his friend from marrying her sister” the emphasizes her feelings for Darcy and reassures the reader that although they argue, and state each other’s faults they see beyond that. She seems to accept his faults because one moment she is flattered by his interest and the next she is talking of his “abominable pride.” I think Austen has chosen Elizabeth to have these mixed thoughts because she is struggling with her initial opinion of Darcy and therefore struggling with her Prejudice.
In chapter 35, Darcy gives Elizabeth a letter, I think the fact that he didn’t tell her face to face shows that he is not very accomplished at talking openly with people he has not known for a long period of time. Darcy and Lizzy both have faults and they must work together to become stronger, as a truly compatible couple. In his letter he explains that “I do not suppose that it would ultimately have prevented the marriage” and then goes on to say “Bingley has great natural modesty, with a stronger dependence on my judgment than on his own.” In this he contradicts himself slightly because if Bingley depended more on Darcy’s opinion then he would have listened to him on disconnecting himself from Jane. I think this is because Bingley is finally in love (“his partiality for Miss Bennet was beyond what I had ever witnessed in him”) and so now he only cares for his relationship with Jane. Darcy is an extremely protective character and he seems to father Bingley as he fathers his sister Georgiana, “a brother whom she almost looked up to as a father”.
Through the story, Darcy becomes more protective of Elizabeth as he pays Wickham to encourage him to marry Lydia. I think he does this to protect Elizabeth from the shame it would bring on her family if people found out the scandal. So he did this to stop her poor connections, which he frequently mentions, from becoming even worse. He is also a very caring, loyal person and this is shown when he says “I could not have forgotten my reverend father’s intentions.” He goes through with his father’s wishes even though they are against his own. This unveils a warmer side to Darcy’s character, during the course of Elizabeth and Darcy developing a greater knowledge of each other, the reader gets to understand their characters better. I think Austen does this to show the progression of the characters.
Throughout the letter, he chooses not to mention his proclamation of love for her on the previous night. He ends the letter “I will only add, God bless you, Fitzwilliam Darcy” this is very formal yet it also states his first name which has so far not been mentioned. I think Austen’s decision not to include any mention of love, is her trying to get across that Darcy just hopes to again establish respect for each other and he accepts her reasons for rejecting him. This shows a kind and understanding side of Mr. Darcy and indicates that there are many more sides to Darcy than are first visible from first impressions. This emphasizes that Elizabeth shouldn’t have made snap judgments on Darcy’s character.
Elizabeth then confronts this prejudice on pages 159-160, “She grew absolutely ashamed of herself. — Of neither Darcy nor Wickham could she think, without feeling that she had been blind, partial, prejudiced, absurd.”
“But vanity, not love, has been my folly. Pleased with the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other, on the very beginning of our acquaintance, I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away, where either were concerned. Till this moment, I never knew myself.” She is realising her faults and has realised that her judgments are usually not correct. Darcy is already losing his pride and now that Elizabeth has accepted her prejudice, so the obstacles are becoming easier to overcome.
On page 190 the housekeeper at Pemberly talks of Darcy’s merits, she says “I have never had a cross word from him in my life, and I have known him ever since he was four years old.” This was a surprise to Elizabeth as she thought of him as a bad tempered man. It is also said that “I say no more than the truth, and what everybody will say that knows him” This tells Elizabeth that maybe she doesn’t know his character as well as she though she did. Her view of him has been blinded by her initial negative first impression and her prejudice.
Mr and Mrs Gardiner then go on to praise Darcy on page 197 saying such things as “He is perfectly well behaved, polite, and unassuming”. But, there is one statement that Mrs Gardiner says that is much more telling and that is when she says “some people may call him proud, I have seen nothing of it.” This is a very clever way of Austen telling the reader and Elizabeth that Darcy is no longer an overly proud person. While the Gardiners and the housekeeper talk of Darcy’s favourable points, Elizabeth cannot help but be forced to think the same, “she could do nothing but think, and think, with wonder, of Mr Darcy’s civility”. This forces her to re-establish her views on Darcy’s character.
The turning point where Elizabeth’s opinion of Darcy’s treatment of Wickham finally changed is when she discovers that Darcy was in fact the one to persuade Wickham to marry Lydia by giving him money through a letter from Mrs Gardiner. “His debts are to be paid, amounting, I believe, to considerably more than a thousand pounds, another thousand in addition to her own settled upon her, and his commission purchases.” “It was owing to him, to his reserve and want of proper consideration, that Wickham’s character has been so misunderstood, and, consequently that he had been received and noticed as he was.” Elizabeth seemed taken aback and flattered that Darcy would do “all this for a girl whom he could neither regard nor esteem.”
I think Lizzy finally understands Darcy’s dislike of Wickham as she says “he was reduced to meet- frequently meet, reason with, persuade, and finally bribe- the man whom he most wished to avoid, san whose very name it was punishment to him to pronounce” This shows Elizabeth that Darcy is a very selfless person, which is a dramatic change in view from her initial opinion. “Her heart did whisper that he had done it for her” She then puts this thought out of her mind because she thinks as she refused him once before his attentions would be turned to Miss de Bourgh. I think this is Austen showing a low point in a courtship of true love when the obstacles seem to have beaten the couple. But, I think as Elizabeth is a strong willed character (reflecting Jane Austen’s character itself) will fight on past the obstacles. Between pages 282 and 286 Darcy and Elizabeth have a long conversation during which they sort out their differences.
In this conversation neither of which are discreet about their affections and it is clear to see that they are both in love. “My affections and wishes are unchanged; but one word from you will silence me on this subject for ever.” This shows that Darcy holds Lizzy’s word in extremely high regard and has huge respect for her. Elizabeth explained that she returned his affections and the happiness that Darcy demonstrated shows that he truly loved her. When Austen says, “He expressed himself on the occasion as sensibly and as warmly as a man violently in love can be supposed to do” I think she is referring back to Mr Collins, when he proposed he talked of the “violence of my affection” and the reader and Elizabeth both knew that this ‘violence’ was not present, whereas Mr. Darcy’s affections were too fierce to be compared to. Eventually, after all the struggle and obstacles they have overcome, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy present themselves as Austen’s ideal couple. His pride has been humbled and her prejudice erased.
In conclusion, Austen used her characters as literary devices to illustrate her views on marriage; that people should marry for love, compatibility, affection and knowledge of one another’s personality. She makes herself a commentator on society, showing how it works and its faults. Throughout all this she uses satire to criticize people views; this humour makes herself able to be taken seriously as she has done. Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, Lydia and Wickham and Charlotte and Mr. Collins are example of unsuitable marriages whereas Jane and Mr. Bingley and Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are examples of true love prevailing against society. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are the ideal example of this. In her day she was radical and brave to be writing with the undertone of criticism, and her views on marriage are still very relevant today.