Arrogance and Confrontation in Pride and Prejudice
Elizabeth Bennets outlook on Mr. Darcy is negative throughout most of the novel. Her opinion of him is so misconceived it causes her to reject his proposal. The passage from chapter 34 (pages 162-164), when Mr. Darcy expresses his true feelings for Elizabeth, plays a pivotal role in narrating his arrogance of social status. It also capitalizes on Elizabeths character to stand up for what she believes in. Would Elizabeth have taken a different approach and accepted his proposal if he articulated his love in a more meaningful way? This essay will focus on Mr. Darcys pride and the effect it has on Elizabeths reaction to his proposal. This passage reflects the title of the book because it shows in depth Mr. Darcys pride about his social status and Elizabeths prejudice against him. Mr. Darcys conceited expression of love is the reason Elizabeth immediately rejects his proposal, and this paper will explore why Austen uses this to construct the identify of her characters.
Before Mr. Darcy begins to express his love, Elizabeth already answered him with cold civility (Austen 162). This clarifies that she is in a bad mood before he proposes his love. She is irritated with him, but it is not to the point that she would deny his proposal. He begins to express his feelings for her by bluntly telling her that he admires and loves her. Elizabeth is astonished and expresses herself as coloured, doubted, and silent (Austen 162). This makes it seem as if Elizabeth likes the fact that he loves her and only boosts his confidence because he considers her reaction as sufficient encouragement (Austen 162). If Elizabeth takes pleasure in the thought of Mr. Darcy loving her, then maybe she would respond in a different manor if he didnt let his pride overtake his emotions. Unfortunately, he is not more eloquent on the subject of tenderness than of pride (Austen 162). Austens choice of words in this sentence reveals Mr. Darcys sense of pride overcomes his true feelings for Elizabeth. He isnt focused on the subject of tenderness, which signifies he wasnt emotional and didnt express his love in a way a girl would want to hear. He takes the opposite approach and insults her inferiority and says he loves her regardless of the family obstacles (Austen 162). His expression of love is twisted because he truly loves her, but his prideful attitude doesnt allow him to tell her in a reasonable way. He is hung up on her low social ranking and his familys disapproval of her. He tries to use that in a way to win her over, but obviously it is an epic fail.
Elizabeth could not be insensible to the compliment of such a mans affection (Austen 163). Austen uses this to hint that deep down Elizabeth is flattered that Mr. Darcy loves her. If only he wasnt so insulting about her social status and family, then maybe she could accept his love or at least reject it in a more respectable fashion. Elizabeth cant take anymore of his arrogance and is roused to resentment by his subsequent language (Austen 163). She initially enjoys hearing about his love for her, but once he begins to conceitedly express it she cant even bear the site of him. Austen depicts Mr. Darcys arrogance by saying he had no doubt of a favourable answer (163). His boastfulness leads him to believe he can say whatever he wants, and she will immediately accept.
His assumption is soon shut down when Elizabeth cant feel gratitude towards his proposal (163). Austen emphasizes, feel because it represents Elizabeths inner thoughts, and allows the reader to have an exclusive outlook from her point of view. Elizabeth demands an explanation for his reasons of offending and insulting her while he expressed his love. Austen uses Mr. Darcys proposal in an ironic way. He is trying to tell her how much he loves her, but he ends up insulting important values of her life. Elizabeth says even if her feelings had been favourable she would not accept the man who has been the means of ruining, perhaps forever, the happiness of a most beloved sister (Austen 164). Elizabeth is a straightforward person and this passage is a great example of that because she stands up to Mr. Darcy. She is expressing herself out of rage by saying she couldnt accept his proposal even if he wasnt arrogant because he destroyed her sisters relationship with Mr. Bingley. Austen uses this in a contradictory way. The reader gets to see how Elizabeth says she feels, but obviously she cares about Mr. Darcy because this subject is so dear to her. If Mr. Darcy did not express his love in a prideful manor, then Elizabeth wouldnt have reacted with such anger. She would have realized that he isnt a bad man, and they couldve sorted out their differences on the subject of Mr. Bingley and Jane. Overall, the reason for Elizabeths immediate rejection of Mr. Darcys proposal is because his conceited expression of love gives her the impression he is not worthy of her affection.
Works Cited Page
Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. New York: Bantam Dell, 1981.