Pride Prejudice Jane Austen

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Pride and Prejudice is a romantic novel by Jane Austen. Although it is set in the late 18th Century, Pride and Prejudice wasn't published until 1813. The story centres on Elizabeth Bennet, a young, intelligent woman. She and her four sisters need to find themselves financial security in the form of wealthy husbands. There are two men who propose to Elizabeth, Mr Collins and Mr Darcy. Their proposals contrast greatly, with one being more genuine than the other.

Mr Collins is a clergyman on the Rosings estate. His proposal to Lizzy is unusual and comical. Instead of being a sincere declaration of love, he carries it out like a business contract,

“My reasons for marrying are, first, that I think it a right thing for every clergyman in easy circumstances (like myself) to set the example of matrimony; secondly…”

Rather than making the proposal simple and concise, he goes into great detail, giving numbered reasons for marrying. Mr Collins' feels obliged to marry because he thinks it is his duty to set an example as a clergyman. He also mentions that marriage would add greatly to his happiness, giving no thought to Lizzy's feelings. Mr Collins' third reason is that Lady Catherine de Bourgh, his patroness, advised him to marry.

When Mr Collins proposes, he uses direct speech, talking at Lizzy not with her. The proposal seems planned, because it is very formal. Mr Collins also uses Lizzy's parents,

“May I hope, madam, for your interest with your fair daughter Elizabeth, when I solicit for the honour of a private audience with her in the course of this morning?”

Mr Collins is aware of the Bennets' financial situation, so he knows that Mrs Bennet would not refuse. Mr Collins must have been relieved that he had encountered the mother, because Lizzy would have probably left the room, if she weren't ordered to stay by her mother. Mr Collins doesn't have a lot of money, so he has to approach the parents before proposing. He asks Mrs Bennet, because he knows that Mr Bennet isn't too fond of him, and he is aware of her desperation to get her daughters married.

Mr Collins' real personality is revealed in his proposal. He is deceitful, lying to Lizzy from the beginning,

“Almost as soon as I entered the house, I singled you out as the companion of my future life.”

Mr Collins says Lizzy was the only one he ever wanted, but he only pursued her after discovering Jane was unavailable. Mr Collins is also arrogant and selfish,

“… where I assure you there are many amiable young women. But the fact is, that being, as I am, …”

The use of ‘I' is very prominent in his speech, which shows he is acting in his own self-interest, giving no regard to Lizzy's future. He is so conceited that he doesn't let Lizzy reply,

“… no ungenerous reproach shall ever pass my lips when we are married.”

He talks as if Lizzy has already agreed to be his wife, forgetting that she hasn't made her choice yet.

Mr Collins is also is patronising, insulting her constantly, especially after she refuses his proposal,

“… it is by no means certain that another offer of marriage may ever be made to you.”

Mr Collins is telling Lizzy that no one else will propose to her, so she might as well accept his proposal. He is obviously trying to cover up his embarrassment, because he assumed that Elizabeth is in no position to refuse him, but he didn't expect her to say no.

Mr Collins nearly gives up in the end,

“… I am persuaded that when sanctioned by the express authority of both your excellent parents, my proposals will not fail of being acceptable.”

He uses her parents once again, saying that when he tells them of her refusal, she will have to marry him. Although Mr Collins is very egotistical, he is also naïve and stubborn,

“… that it is usual with young ladies to reject the addresses of the man whom they secretly mean to accept, when he first applies for their favour …”

He is denying the reality of Elizabeth's refusal, thinking she is playing with his affections. This shows that he is insensitive to her feelings because he is not respecting her opinion. After Elizabeth's refusal, he reminds her that she is in no economic position to refuse. At first, Mr Collins assumed that Lizzy would have to marry him, because he is richer and has good social connections.

Mr Collins uses emotional blackmail, repeatedly reminding Lizzy of her of her current financial state,

“To fortune I am perfectly indifferent, and shall make no demand of that nature on your father, since I am well aware that it could no be compiled with; and that one thousand pounds in the 4 per cents., which will not be yours till after your mother's decease, is all that you may ever be entitled to.”

He is telling her that he knows she is poor, so he would demand a dowry from her father, as he knows he would never receive it. Mr Collins continues to pressurise Lizzy into marriage, by saying that she will only receive a small amount of money after her parents' deaths, unless she marries him. Mr Collins also uses Longbourn, Lizzy's home against her,

“… as I am, to inherit this estate after the death of your honoured father…”

Since Lizzy is quite a selfless girl, he knows that she would do anything for her family. Mr Collins tells Lizzy that if she marries him, her wealth, home and future would be secured. It would also mean her family would stay at Longbourn.

After Mr Collins' despicable behaviour, it is a surprise that Elizabeth replies in a civil manner, since she is quite feisty,

““You are too hasty, sir,” she cried. “You forget that I have made no answer. Let me do it without further loss of time. Accept my thanks for the compliment you are paying me. I am very sensible of the honour of your proposals, but it is impossible for me to do otherwise than decline them.””

She is very polite, thanking him for the proposal, but she has to decline. Lizzy has every right to be angry, but she chooses to be calm, showing her as a strong character. Lizzy also replies to his comment regarding her house,

“In making me the offer, you must have satisfied the delicacy of your feelings with regard to my family, and may take possession of Longbourn estate whenever it falls without self-reproach. This matter may be considered, therefore, as finally settled.”

Lizzy doesn't care if Mr Collins takes her home because he can't blackmail her into marrying him. She tells him that Longbourn will legally be his anyway, so he should just take it.

Mr Darcy is a wealthy gentleman, who owns the Pemberley estate. His proposal is very different from Mr Collins', because it is extremely short,

“In vain I have 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.”

Elizabeth is absolutely shocked and stays silent, so Mr Darcy takes it as a good sign. Lizzy had been so angry and prejudiced against him, that she never noticed his affection for her.

He was extremely nervous prior to the proposal,

“In an hurried manner he immediately begun an inquiry after her health, imputing his visit to a wish of hearing that she were better. She answered with cold civility. He sat down for a few moments, and then getting up, walked about the room. Elizabeth was surprised, but said not a word. After a silence of several minutes, he came towards her in a agitated manner, and thus began…”

Mr Darcy comes up with an excuse for his visit, but is too scared to tell Lizzy his true feelings. The awkward silence creates suspense, because Lizzy is confused, wondering why he came to see her. This makes it even harder for Darcy to talk to her, but he manages to speak. Unlike Mr Collins', Mr Darcy actually pays attention to Lizzy,

“Mr Darcy, who was leaning against the mantelpiece with his eyes fixed on her face…”

He looks at her because he truly loves her, and anxious to hear her answer.

Mr Darcy is shocked when she refuses,

“His complexion became pale with anger, and the disturbance of his mind was visible in every feature. He was struggling for the appearance of composure...”

He is stunned by her rejection, but he doesn't make excuses and accepts her decision. The refusal is unexpected, but he is also surprised that his wealth was disregarded. He replies calmly,

“At length, in a voice of forced calmness, he said -- “And this is all the reply which I am to have the honour of expecting! I might, perhaps, wish to be informed why, with so little endeavour at civility, I am thus rejected. But it is of small importance.””

Although there is bitterness in his tone, he is civil when he asks her why she is rejecting him. Even though he claims that her reasons aren't important, it is clear that Mr Darcy is hurt.

Darcy's proposal isn't written in direct speech, but reported. Both Mr Darcy and Elizabeth's feelings and actions are narrated through descriptive text. Austen wants the readers to sympathise with Darcy, showing him as a private man,

“He spoke well; but there were feelings besides those of the heart to be detailed, and he was not more eloquent on the subject of tenderness than of pride.”

Darcy doesn't want to show his feelings, but he knows that he must swallow his pride if he wants any chance with Elizabeth. Also, he doesn't retaliate when Lizzy accuses him of various things,

“She paused, and saw with no slight indignation that he was listening with an air which proved him wholly unmoved by any feeling of remorse. He even looked at her with a smile of affected incredulity.”

Mr Darcy is so infatuated, that he is detached from the situation. He smiles because Lizzy had just displayed her strong and outspoken personality, a trait he liked about her.

Although Mr Collins Lies to Lizzy, Mr Darcy does not,

“I have no wish of denying that I did everything in my power to separate my friend from your sister, or that I rejoice in my success. Towards him I have been kinder than towards myself.”

Darcy doesn't deny that he split up Mr Bingley and Jane. He is very proud of what he has done, because he stopped his friend from being associated with a family like Elizabeth's, because Darcy feels that Lizzy's two youngest sisters are embarrassing, as well as the mother. But he goes on and proposes to Elizabeth, which is ironic, because he is allowing himself to be connected with the Bennets. Mr Darcy expects Lizzy to take his insult, because of his status, but he is clearly mistaken.

Darcy's mood changes when Lizzy brings up Wickham,

““And this,” cried Darcy, as he walked with quick steps across the room, “is your opinion of me! I thank you for explaining it so fully. My faults, according to this calculation, are heavy indeed! …””

Mr Darcy is livid because Lizzy's prejudice is based on Mr Wickham's story. He feels that his feelings for Lizzy will not be returned because Wickham has scandalized him. Even though Darcy is angry, he still displays gentlemanly behaviour,

“Forgive me for having taken up so much of your time, and accept my best wishes for your health and happiness.”

Like Lizzy, he responds in a calm manner, even if he is feeling the complete opposite. Darcy understands Lizzy's emotions, but he feels a fool for expressing his affection. Although Mr Darcy is bitter about the revelations, he ends the conversation on good terms because he still cares about her, and wishes Elizabeth a good future, even if it is without him.

Lizzy's response to Mr Darcy's proposal is different to her reply for Mr Collins. She is absolutely shocked and astonished that a man, who was always unnecessarily rude about and to her, would even think about declaring his love and proposing to her. Elizabeth is outraged when Colonel Fitzwilliam tells her that Mr Darcy played a part in persuading Mr Bingley to leave Netherfield,

“Mr Darcy's shameful boast of what misery he had been able to inflict gave her a keener sense of her sister's sufferings.”

She has been convinced hat Darcy had only split Jane and Bingley up, because of the Bennets' low social connections, which only deepens Lizzy's prejudice against him. She is attracted to him, but she feels that she should stay loyal to Jane.

With Mr Collins, Lizzy is more polite and reserved, but with Mr Darcy, she is more direct and outspoken,

“It is natural that obligation should be felt, and if I could feel gratitude, I would now thank you. But I cannot -- I have never desired your good opinion, and you have certainly bestowed it most unwillingly. I am sorry to have occasioned pain to anyone.”

Elizabeth is very frank, telling Mr Darcy that she can't feel any gratitude for the offer. Lizzy never wanted him to like her, but he does, so she says that he could easily overcome his love for her. Before the proposal, Mr Darcy acted like he disliked her,

““I might as well inquire,” replied she, “why with so evident a design of offending and insulting me, you chose to tell me that you liked me against your will, against your reason, and even against your character?””

Darcy has offended Lizzy before, so she questions why he is declaring his love now. She makes it very clear that she would never consider marrying him, because he separated Bingley from her sister.

Although Elizabeth is sensible, she is also stubborn,

“You have reduced him to his present state of poverty -- comparative poverty. You have withheld the advantages which you must know to have been designed for him.”

Believing Wickham has added to her prejudice of Darcy. She chooses to believe Mr Wickham because she is certain that Mr Darcy would be capable of depriving Wickham of money, but Lizzy hasn't listened to both sides of the story. Like Mr Collins, Elizabeth uses ‘I' a lot,

“… 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.”

She is not being arrogant, but it is because the feelings are personal. Lizzy feels hurt and angered by Darcy's pride, because he showed no remorse for what he did.

After Mr Darcy leaves, her thoughts go wild,

“That she should receive an offer of marriage from Mr Darcy! that he should have been in love with her for so many months! so much in love as to wish to marry her in spite of all the objections…”

Elizabeth is so confused, as there are so many emotions going through her mind. She is furious at Darcy for ruining Jane's happiness, but she loves him. Lizzy doesn't know whether to betray or to stay loyal to her sister. She is starting to realise how strong her affections are for Mr Darcy, but she also hates him for his lack of sympathy for Jane or Wickham.

Since Mr Darcy is wealthier than Mr Collins, he didn't have to approach the parents before proposing. If Lizzy had accepted, he would have had to ask for their blessing. Darcy expected Elizabeth to accept because of his wealth and his status in society. When she refuses, she shows him that his haughty behaviour was unacceptable even if he has a higher rank. Mr Darcy is surprised because Lizzy doesn't treat him differently because of his money. To Elizabeth, he is just a man, regardless of his position or wealth.

As the title suggests, pride and prejudice is a recurring theme throughout this novel, as well as the proposal. Darcy's pride and social rank makes him to become prejudiced against people of social inferiority,

“Nor am I ashamed of the feelings I related. They were natural and just. Could you expect me to rejoice in the inferiority of your connections? -- to congratulate myself on the hope of relations, whose condition in life is so decidedly beneath my own?”

Even though he thinks Lizzy is inferior, he loves her, which is surprising for a man of his financial state. His arrogance and treatment of Elizabeth leads to her prejudice of him. Although Darcy has swallowed his pride, he is still very frank about it, which only angers her more.

Elizabeth is also guilty of pride, as well as prejudice,

“But his pride, his abominable pride…”

She accused Darcy of pride and became prejudiced, because her own pride was hurt by his insensitive remarks about her financial situation, family and lack of high social connections. Wickham had easily deceived Lizzy, because of her prejudice and also because she wanted to think badly of Darcy.

Through these proposals, Jane Austen shows the reader that marriage should be based on love and respect, not money and reputation. When Mr Collins lists his reasons for marriage, there is no mention of love. His proposal shows no sign of affection or respect for Lizzy, but he constantly insults and humiliates her. He is superficial, concentrating mainly on her economic state. It is difficult with Mr Darcy because he loves and respects her, but he is also insensitive about her lack of wealth and rank. His proposal came at a bad time because Lizzy discovered his part in the separation of Jane and Bingley. He is bitter that his wealth means nothing to her and that his actions have made a deeper impact that he would have expected.

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