The Development of the Darcy-Elizabeth Relationship
The Development of the Darcy-Elizabeth Relationship : Pride and Prejudice is largely the story of Miss Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, although certain other characters such as Mr. Bingley, Miss Jane Bennet, and Mr. Wickham also figure prominently in the novel. Both Elizabeth and Darcy create a forceful impression on us. In this blog we will discuss about The Development of the Darcy-Elizabeth Relationship.
The Development of the Darcy-Elizabeth Relationship
Mutual Dislike in the Beginning; Marriage at the End
In fact, we would be perfectly justified in designating Elizabeth as the heroine, and Mr. Darcy as the hero of the novel. The Elizabeth-Darcy relationship dominates the novel. These two persons begin with a mutual dislike of each other, but then they both begin to feel drawn towards each other till they find that they are both in love with each other and are, in fact, indispensable to each other. Marriage is the natural consequence of this discovery by them.
Elizabeth‘s Self-Esteem, Hurt By Mr. Darcy’s Remark
Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy meet each other at an assembly (that is, a social gathering). Mr. Darcy has come to this assembly in the company of his intimate friend, Mr. Bingley. The girls attending the assembly are greatly attracted by Mr. Darcy chiefly because of his handsome appearance and his large estate (which is situated in Derbyshire). The girls are also attracted greatly by Mr. Bingley who too is a good-looking and very rich man. We are reading The Development of the Darcy-Elizabeth Relationship. While Mr. Bingley shows a lot of interest in the girls, and more especially in Miss Jane Bennet, Mr. Darcy does not feel much attracted by any of the girls. In fact, Mr. Darcy thinks that none of the girls present suits him as a partner in the dancing and therefore he dances only with the two sisters of his friend, Mr. Bingley.
When Mr. Bingley suggests to Mr. Darcy that he should dance with Elizabeth, Mr. Darcy speaks disapprovingly of her, saying that there is not much charm about her. This uncomplimentary remark by Mr. Darcy about Elizabeth is overheard by her, and she therefore feels very annoyed with him. Otherwise too Mr. Darcy seems to be a very proud man. Mrs. Bennet, after attending the assembly, and speaking to her husband, describes Mr. Darcy as a very rude kind of man. Thus on the occasion of their very first meeting, Mr. Darcy expresses the view that Elizabeth is not beautiful enough to tempt him, while Elizabeth feels deeply offended with him after overhearing this remark. Elizabeth feels that Mr. Darcy is a very proud man who has mortified her own pride. What she means is that Mr. Darcy has hurt her self-esteem.
A Change in Mr. Darcy’s Opinion of Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy meet again, Elizabeth is determined not to dance with him because of the grudge which she is harbouring against him. However, a slight change now takes place in Mr. Darcy’s view of Elizabeth. He begins to find that Elizabeth‘s face is rendered uncommonly intelligent by the beautiful expression of her dark eyes. He also finds that her figure is light and pleasing; and he is impressed by the easy playfulness of her manners. He now tells Miss Bingley that Elizabeth is a pretty woman having a pair of fine eyes.
Miss Bingley regards Mr. Darcy’s praise of Elizabeth as a clear signal that he is thinking of Elizabeth as his would-be wife. She then makes a sarcastic remark, telling Mr. Darcy that, in case he marries Elizabeth, he would get a charming mother-in-law in Mrs. Bennet. Actually, Mrs. Bennet has not produced a good impression on either Miss Bingley or Mr. Darcy, and Miss Bingley’s remark is therefore meant to lower both Elizabeth and her mother in Mr. Darcy’s estimation. We are reading The Development of the Darcy-Elizabeth Relationship.
Mr. Darcy’s Comment upon Elizabeth‘s Long Walk
When Jane has fallen ill at Netherfield Park, Elizabeth goes to attend upon her sister. Elizabeth walks the whole distance of about three miles from Longbourn to Netherfield Park. Mr. Bingley’s two sisters mock at Elizabeth for having walked such a long distance because they think themselves to be fine ladies and because, in their opinion, only a low-class girl would care to walk such a long distance. However, Mr. Darcy does not share the opinion of these two ladies in this respect. He defends Elizabeth for having walked this long distance, and says that her eyes looked brighter after she had walked that long distance. Elizabeth, of course, does not know the comments which these persons have made upon the long walk that she has taken. She continues to nurse a grievance against Mr. Darcy for having made an adverse remark about her at the assembly.
Mr. Darcy, Charmed by Elizabeth; her Handicap in his View
Mr. Darcy now becomes more and more interested in Elizabeth. Miss Bingley perceives this change in Mr. Darcy, and she tries her utmost not to allow Elizebeth to get too close to him because Miss Bingley is herself interested in him. Mr. Darcy has now begun to like Elizabeth very much and is, in fact, feeling thorougly charmed by her. Her only handicap in his eyes is that she does not belong to the aristocratic class of society to which he himself belongs. If she had been the daughter of aristocratic and rich parents, Mr. Darcy would certainly have proposed marriage to her at this very stage in the story. Mr. Darcy is a proud man and a snob who believes in distinctions of class and rank. Elizabeth, on her part, continues to feel prejudiced against Mr. Darcy because of the adverse opinion which he had initially expressed about her.
Different Points of View
In the course of a conversation, Mr. Darcy happens to say that it has always been his effort to avoid weaknesses which invite ridicule. Elizabeth asks if vanity and pride are among the weaknesses which he tries to avoid. Mr. Darcy replies that vanity is surely a weakness which should be avoided, but that pride has to be properly regulated if a proud man has a really superior mind. Elizabeth, speaking to Miss Bingley, says half ironically that Mr. Darcy suffers from no defect. Mr. Darcy, intervening, says that he has his full share of faults, though his faults are not due to any mental deficiency in him. We are reading The Development of the Darcy-Elizabeth Relationship. He then goes on to say that he cannot ignore the follies and vices from which other people suffer; and he adds: “My good opinion once lost is lost for ever.” Elizabeth, however, tells him that it is surely a fault in him if he can never ignore other people’s follies and vices.
She even says to him at this time that his defect is a tendency to hate everybody, to which he replies that her defect is deliberately to misunderstand everybody. Now, it is clear to us that Elizabeth is keen to maintain the independence of her mind. Any other girl would have been at pains to humour Mr. Darcy and to endorse whatever opinion he might have expressed. But Elizabeth has the courage to differ with him. Mr. Darcy, it seems, does not resent Elizabeth‘s disagreeing with the opinions which he expresses. On the contrary, Mr. Darcy finds that he is feeling more and more drawn towards her.
Mr. Darcy, Almost in Love with Elizabeth
Mr. Darcy now thinks that, if he comes into contact with Elizabeth more often, he might actually fall in love with her. The author in this context writes: “He began to feel the danger of paying Elizabeth too much attention.” Mr. Darcy pays little heed to Miss Bingley who tries her utmost to win his good opinion and his heart. At this point we get the feeling that Mr. Darcy has already fallen in love with Elizabeth though he does not yet admit this fact even to himself. The chief obstruction in his way is Elizabeth‘s lower social position. He thinks that his marrying Elizabeth would be an unseemly step because he is far above Elizabeth in social standing.
Elizabeth Hardening; and Darcy Softening
A new complication arises in the Elizabeth-Darcy relationship when Mr. Wickham appears on the stage. This man, who becomes rapidly familiar with Elizabeth because of his social charm, tells Elizabeth that Mr. Darcy had done him a great wrong and a great injustice. Mr. Wickham represents himself to Elizabeth as a victim of Mr. Darcy’s callousness and high-handedness, with the result that Elizabeth‘s prejudice against Mr. Darcy is now increased. In this frame of mind, Elizabeth tells her friend Charlotte that she is determined of hate Mr. Darcy and that there is no possibility at all of her finding him an agreeable man. We are reading The Development of the Darcy-Elizabeth Relationship. Then another event takes place which further intensifies Elizabeth‘s bitterness against Mr. Darcy. She learns from Colonel Fitzwilliam that Mr. Darcy had dissuaded Mr. Bingley from proposing marriage to her sister Jane. Thus several reasons have now combined to harden Elizabeth‘s attitude towards Mr. Darcy, while Mr. Darcy, on his part, has been softening towards Elizabeth.
Darcy’s Proposal of Marriage; and Elizabeth‘s Rejection of It
Mr. Darcy is now so much in love with Elizabeth that he proposes marriage to her. This happens when Elizabeth is staying at Hunsford. However, his consciousness of Elizabeth‘s social inferiority to him has by no means weakened or diminished. Even while making this proposal of marriage to her, he goes out of his way to emphasize the fact of her being socially very much beneath him. Elizabeth, who is a very self-respecting girl, feels deeply offended by the condescending manner in which Mr. Darcy has made his proposal of marriage, and she therefore summarily rejects his proposal not only because of his arrogant manner but because of other reasons as well. She gives him her reasons for this rejection in some detail. She tells him that he had prevented his friend Mr. Bingley from marrying her sister Jane. She tells him that he had most unjustly and cruelly treated Mr. Wickham, the son of the steward to Mr. Darcy’s late father. And, of course, she points out to him the superiority complex from which he is suffering.
Darcy’s Letter to Elizabeth in Defence of Himself
On the following day, Mr. Darcy hands over a letter to Elizabeth. This letter contains Mr. Darcy’s defence of himself. Through this letter he informs Elizabeth that he might have been mistaken in his judgment of her sister Jane and might have committed an error of judgment in preventing Mr. Bingley from marrying Jane, but that his treatment of Mr. Wickham had fully been justified because Mr. Wickham, far from deserving any favour or any kindness, is an obnoxious man, having no scruples at all. Mr. Darcy further points out that the behaviour of Elizabeth‘s mother and her two youngest sisters has been far from pleasing.
A Change in Elizabeth‘s View of Darcy
Although Elizabeth finds that the tone of Mr. Darcy’s letter is insolent and haughty, yet the letter does bring about a certain change in her. She begins to realize that Mr. Darcy had, after all, not been unjust in his treatment of Mr. Wickham. She also realizes that Mr. Darcy had some valid ground for preventing Mr. Bingley from marrying Jane because Jane had really not given to Mr. Bingley a sufficient indication that she was deeply in love with him. Elizabeth also admits to herself that the behaviour of her mother and her two youngest sisters has been undignified and therefore disagreeable.
Mutual Appreciation of Each Other
During Elizabeth‘s stay at Lambton and her visit to Pemberley House, Mr. Darcy is at pains to please Elizabeth by his talk and by calling in her in the company of his sister Georgiana. So anxious is Mr. Darcy to place Elizabeth at Lambton that Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner feel convinced that he is in love with her. On one occasion when Miss Bingley begins to speak unfavourably about Elizabeth‘s physician appearance, Mr. Darcy says that Elizabeth is one of the handsomest women of his acquaintance. Elizabeth, on her part, has now begun to think that Mr. Darcy is exactly the man who, in disposition and talents, would suit her most as her husband. She believes that his understanding and temper, though unlike her own, would answer all her wishes.
Elizabeth‘s Admiration for Darcy for his Role in the Lydia-Wickham Affair
Elizabeth begins to admire Mr. Darcy still more when she comes to know of the role which he had played in bringing about the marriage of Lydia and Mr. Wickham. She now thinks that the Bennet family has reason to feel deeply indebted to Mr. Darcy for having saved them from disgrace and infamy. Mr. Darcy’s action in having paid Mr. Wickham the required sum of money and having settled the whole matter amicably shows him to be a high-minded man. We are reading The Development of the Darcy-Elizabeth Relationship.
The Effect on Mr. Darcy of Lady Catherine’s Talk with Elizabeth
Another event now takes place to bring Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy closer to each other. This event is a visit by Lady Catherine to Longbourn. Lady Catherine, in a private meeting with Elizabeth, warns her against agreeing to marry her nephew, Mr. Darcy. Lady Catherine says that Mr. Darcy is to marry her own daughter Miss Ann de Bourgh and that Elizabeth should not dare to think of marrying him. Lady Catherine utters all sorts of threats to Elizabeth; but Elizabeth remains calm and unafraid, and her answers to Lady Catherine show that she would decide the matter in accordance with her own wishes in case Mr. Darcy at all proposes marriage to her. Lady Catherine feels most annoyed by Elizabeth‘s attitude. When Lady Catherine meets Mr. Darcy in London, she tells him of the meeting which she has had with Elizabeth, and the answers which Elizabeth had given to her. Mr. Darcy now feels convinced that Elizabeth has a soft corner for him, and so he decides to renew his proposal of marriage to her.
Elizabeth‘s Acceptance of Mr. Darcy’s Proposal of Marriage
At his next meeting with Elizabeth, Mr. Darcy once again proposes marriage to her, admitting that he is now a changed man and that all his pride, vanity, selfishness, and arrogance have been humbled by her. He says that he owes the great change in his character to the manner in which she had been behaving towards him. Elizabeth, whose own attitude towards Mr. Darcy has undergone a great change on account of various reasons including the role which Mr. Darcy had played in the Lydia-Wickham affair, gladly accepts the proposal. And so, after the permission of Mr. Bennet has been obtained by Mr. Darcy, the marriage of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth takes place amid great jubilation.
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