A Sense of Place in Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

Place: The particular portion of space occupied by or allocated to a person or thing.It is interesting to observe Dictionary.com’s definition of the word “place” in relation to “person”. Especially when it comes to Pride and Prejudice, where Austen has made great use of the objective correlative technique, in which many, if not all, of her settings considerably reflect the characteristics of their owners. She additionally employs several other techniques regarding the sense of place in her novel, which are important not only in the facilitation of numerous plot points, but also in establishing and understanding her characters and their relationships. So what are these techniques, and why are they so effective? To find the answers to such questions, we should look closely at Austen’s methods of incorporating a sense of place into her novel.The technique of objective correlative is often used in establishing the qualities of a character by having them reflected in that character’s surroundings. These can be material objects, belongings, or in Austen’s case, locations. If we take a look at the setting of Rosings, we see that it is described as ostentatious, overwhelming, and, in comparison to Pemberley, the other grand country estate, rather garish:From the entrance hall, of which Mr. Collins pointed out, with a rapturous air, the fine proportion and finished ornaments, they followed the servants…. In spite of having been at St. James’s, Sir William was so completely awed by the grandeur surrounding him, that he had but just courage enough to make a very low bow, and take his seat without saying a word; and his daughter, frightened almost out of her senses, sat on the edge of her chair, not knowing which way to look. (p. 121)Sir William Lucas’ intimidation at the enormity of his surroundings demonstrates perfectly the excessively extravagant nature of Rosings, a description which is maintained throughout this chapter and indeed the rest of the novel. At the centre of this gaudery, we find Lady Catherine de Bourgh, a creature exactly fitted to the nature of her surroundings. She is large, intimidating, and self-centred, and it is interesting to note that both she and her estate invoke a sense of discomfort in those who have the misfortune to be nearby. She stirs a feeling of uneasiness in her visitors; upon Elizabeth and Charlotte’s first visit, it is described that “there was little to be done but to hear Lady Catherine talk, which she did without intermission till coffee came in, delivering her opinion on every subject in so decisive a manner as proved that she was not used to having her judgment controverted” (p. 122). It is also interesting to note that Darcy’s first proposal to Elizabeth takes place in this setting of discomfort, and both characters are left feeling worse afterward than before. However, his second, being back at Longbourn, a place where Elizabeth feels comfortable, is more successful.The other famous estate in Pride and Prejudice would undoubtedly be Pemberley, Mr. Darcy’s country domain. In comparison to Rosings, though it is also large and stately, there is no sense of discomfort in its visitors, nor any hint of flashiness:The rooms were lofty and handsome, and their furniture suitable to the fortune of their proprietor; but Elizabeth saw, with admiration of his taste, that it was neither gaudy nor uselessly fine; with less of splendor, and more real elegance, than the furniture of Rosings. (p. 182)A similar description can be applied to Mr. Darcy himself. Though at first seemingly proud and haughty, he is in actuality a decent fellow, well-dressed (though not overly showy), and very down to earth. Through this description of Pemberley, we see Elizabeth’s comfort in her surroundings (as opposed to her unease at Rosings), and once again, through this technique, are able see (from later in the book) that she will be at ease with Mr. Darcy himself. Almost all of the settings in Pride and Prejudice reflect their owners effectively, with Longbourn House being relatively plain and simple, similar to Mr. and Mrs. Bennet; Brighton, the loud and flashy seaside town where Lydia ends up with Wickham; and lesser-known settings such as Ramsgate, a quiet and isolated place in Kent, much like Georgiana Darcy herself.Other than the usage of the objective correlative, Austen creates a sense of balance in her story by having several notable events occur outside, while other, less significant events take place in the interior. Events such as Darcy’s giving of the letter to Elizabeth, numerous encounters, and his infamous second proposal occur during walks outside in the garden. This is most interesting, as it is the events that take place in the vast open spaces of the garden that accumulate to the important decisions regarding Elizabeth’s future, whereas less important events, such as Mr. Collins’ proposal, occur within the boundaries of the inner recesses. It could be hypothesised that these important events take place outside, as the garden is a place which everyone shares; a sort of common ground where there are no advantages or disadvantages, and no influences. The openness of the great outdoors promotes a sense of honesty in whichever characters happen to be there, a feeling which consequently affects the significance of these events in Elizabeth’s future with Mr. Darcy. Whereas inside, confined within the boundaries of the house, Elizabeth finds herself surrounded with the influence of her giddy mother, and trapped with Mr. Collins. This environment, being far from open and honest, promotes quite the opposite feeling, which is why events such as his proposal have little effect on her life in general.A sense of place also serves to facilitate several plot points, such as Lydia’s elopement with Mr. Wickham, Elizabeth’s trip to Netherfield (where she creates her first — and lasting — impression on Caroline Bingley), along with many others. If it were not for these different places, characters would have no need to correspond by means of written communication, and the numerous letters which we find in Pride and Prejudice would have no reason to exist. These letters (of which there are twenty in the novel) allow for an enormous sense of personal insight into the characters, and as it is through these means of communication that readers are able to discern the sentiments of one character for another, and, in the case of Elizabeth and Jane, to feel almost as if we were reading entries in a diary, their relationship being so close. It is interesting to note that the original title of Pride and Prejudice was “First Impressions”, and may have been written entirely in epistolic form. If it were not for a sense of place, there would be no letters at all, and we would be left with a very bland story indeed. It is also noteworthy that with all these correspondences of important information, characters’ responses can never be spontaneous (except on Elizabeth’s part; she is often heard responding to letters as if she really were addressing the writer). The very nature of a letter requires that sentiments are thought over before being committed to paper, and so in dealing with issues of importance (such as what is to be done about Lydia’s elopement with Mr. Wickham), each party must first think about the right thing to say, and thus eliminate any sense of spontaneity. This allows for many other events to take place, such as misunderstandings between characters, and delays a lot of the action, ensuring that mistakes cannot be corrected immediately. For instance, if Jane and Elizabeth were constantly in the same place, the latter would simply be able to tell Jane of her misapprehensions regarding Miss Bingley, and much of that storyline would be lost.Pride and Prejudice is a novel in which Jane Austen has used several techniques concerning the sense of place to create a fine novel of mannerisms, misjudgements, and mayhem. Through usage of the objective correlative, readers can gain a great deal of insight into the characters themselves, and thus further enjoy the novel with an enhanced understanding of Austen’s creations. She also establishes a sense of balance by having the more influential events of the story take place in the openness of the great outdoors, and those of less import occur within the boundaries of the inside. Additionally, Austen has her characters travel to various parts of Great Britain, which allows for correspondence in the form of letters (serving to facilitate the necessary delay of action) and for mistakes to be made. Austen has made great use of the sense of place in Pride and Prejudice, and her techniques coalesce to deepen the reader’s understanding, to give a sense of balance, and to effectively enhance the enjoyment of a delightful story.

Class and Status in Pride and Prejudice

While the novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen does not openly display Marx’s idea of the oppressed and the oppressor, it does clearly demonstrate Marx’s ideas of society as a history of class struggle. Austen portrays class divisions and struggles through the relationships between the characters in the novel, chiefly the relationship between Darcy and Elizabeth. When subjected to a Marxist reading, Pride and Prejudice reflects how relationships were determined by wealth and class status in pre-industrial England. Subsequently the novel also displays the emergence of the bourgeoisie (the Gardiners) and how they affect class relations.Although Pride and Prejudice was written before the bourgeoisie become the dominant class of the western world, the industrial revolution had already begun and so had the emergence of this social class. Therefore the principle of personal worth being decided by ‘exchange value’ (p. 82 The Communist Manifesto) can still be read in the novel and Marx’s criticism of the bourgeoisie can still be applied. It was obvious from the novel’s orientation that relationships were determined by a character’s ‘exchange value’ or in other words, their wealth and social position. This was overtly present in relationships between men and women in 18th Century England. The novel’s opening lines set the criteria for future relationships: ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife’. This line implied two central concepts, the first that Mr Bingley is only an acceptable husband as a result of his fortune. Secondly, women were expected to marry a wealthy man who could provide for them until death. Mrs Bennet, with five eligible daughters of marrying age, desired that all marry as ‘highly’ as possible because the girls would not inherit any money from the family. When it first becomes clear that Mr Bingley has purchased Netherfield Estate he is immediately categorised as a potential husband for the Bennet girls. Mrs Bennet says of Bingley ‘A single man of a large fortune; four or five thousand a year. What a fine thing for our girls’. Clearly his worth (at least initially) was monetary rather than based on upstanding personal traits or reputation.It’s apparent that a man’s personal fortune largely dictated how a community accepted him. Even the men of the town viewed Mr Bingley as a gentleman due to his wealth as they spoke highly of him. However, as soon as the wealthier Mr Darcy was introduced the praise and admiration was bestowed on him:’Mr Darcy soon drew the attention of the room…by his noble mien; and the report…of his having ten thousand a year…the gentlemen pronounce him to be a fine figure of a man’From the first introduction of Mr Darcy to the other characters (and the reader) he was seen as the ideal man and husband due to his fortune. Even though his character was denounced soon after this introduction (for lack of manners) he was still primarily judged by his material possessions ‘not all his large estate in Derbyshire could save him’. However, it was ‘his large estate in Derbyshire’ that did save him in the novel. It was upon Elizabeth’s visit to Darcy’s estate (after her rejection of his marriage proposal) that she began to change her mind about his character and their relationship, as it states ‘ “And of this place” thought she ” I might have been mistress!”. One might make the assumption that Darcy and Elizabeth’s union by novel’s conclusion reinforces that his wealth was important and that his pride was not sufficient in alienating him from the rest of the community. In fact his pride was a result of his large fortune and Elizabeth came to understand and forgive his pride.Of course, social positioning was just as important as wealth and most of the time the two came hand in hand. Darcy belonged to the aristocrats and thus had considerable social power and influence while Elizabeth belonged to a class below (landed gentry), resulting in conflict between the two characters. Darcy’s rejection of Elizabeth upon their first encounter (due to her class) was an example of the struggle between classes. Darcy had several reasons to reject Elizabeth, namely her own social position, that her uncle made his money rather than inherited it (an example of the emerging bourgeoisie) and that her family did not behave accordingly:’The situation of your mother’s family, though objectionable, was nothing in comparison of the total want of propriety… by your three younger sisters’In the novel’s context, English society did not believe in transgressing classes; it was expected that one would remain in the class they were born into. This was represented in Pride and Prejudice through Miss Bingley’s objection to Jane and Bingley’s union, and Lady Catherine’s objection to the marriage of Elizabeth and Darcy. Lady Catherine’s anger at this possible social faux pas can be seen through her conversation with Elizabeth on page 365: ‘Your alliance will be a disgrace; your name will never be mentioned by any of [Darcy’ family and friends]’. Lady Catherine is not only incensed by Darcy’s love of Elizabeth but equally by the subsequent rejection of his cousin ‘Are you lost to every feeling of propriety and delicacy…from the [Darcy’s] earliest hours he was destined for his cousin’. This statement reinforces how class transition was frowned upon and hence it was a disgrace if one was to marry below their class.On the other hand, if one continues a Marxist reading, Darcy’s acceptance of Elizabeth and her family demonstrates Marx’s hypothesis that as the dominant class begins losing its social dominance it must align itself with the emerging class; in this case the bourgeoisie. As Marx stated on page 91 of The Communist Manifesto:’A small section of the ruling class cuts itself adrift and joins the revolutionary class…just as a section of the nobility went over to the bourgeoisie’In Pride and Prejudice Darcy can represent the ‘section of nobility’ that went over to the bourgeoisie, while the bourgeoisie are represented by the Gardiners. After Darcy’s original dislike of the Gardiners he comes to accept them: ‘his being now seeking the acquaintance of some of those very people, against whom his pride revolted’. Darcy’s acceptance of the Gardiners can be read as an example of the bourgeois revolution Marx discussed in The Communist Manifesto (p. 91). Darcy can also represent the disappearing nobility in pre-industrial England and the changes that took place within that class in order to survive the industrial (and as Marx saw it, bourgeois) revolution. Effectively this is demonstrated by his acceptance for Elizabeth’s family and his willingness to marry for love rather than to cement his own social standing.Although Pride and Prejudice was written before Marx’s manifesto one can clearly see evidence of his theories regarding class struggle as the ‘history of all hitherto in society’. Employing Marx’s ideas one can suggest that Darcy and Elizabeth (as the novel’s protagonists) demonstrate Marx’s ideas regarding class struggle, wealth as personal worth and the acceptance of other classes in order to survive. Whilst to many Pride and Prejudice might be read as a romance, it was also a critique of the world Austen constructed in the novel. Thus, it is a novel that displays the class struggles Marx believed existed throughout history.

Love and Marriage in Pride and Prejudice

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife” (Austen 1). From the first, very famous sentence of Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen introduces to her readers a satirical view of, not love, but marriage, concepts that in 19th century England were not necessarily very closely related. The novel does not begin with a man in love being in want of a wife, but rather with the statement that men, by a certain stage in life, become ready to marry and then seek out a wife. This rather unromantic view of marriage is heavily parodied by Austen, and she gives us with a very parable-like story of matrimony, presenting the reader with more than several marriages and courtships, and showing her readers that the only way to marry is for love. Austen presents the reader with four marriages, each based around different motivations including lust, economic stability, beauty and most importantly, love.Unlike the other marriages in the novel, Mr. and Mrs. Bennet’s is based around Mr. Bennet’s desire for Mrs. Bennet’s beauty. In addition, the marriage is shown in its later years, when it is obvious that their union was both unsuccessful and unfulfilling. While their marriage may have seemed like a good idea when they were young and naive, it is obvious that once Mrs. Bennet’s beauty faded and each person’s true character was revealed, their marriage became a failure. Elizabeth relates that “her father, captivated by youth and beauty, and that appearance of good humour, which youth and beauty generally give, had married a woman whose weak understanding and illiberal mind, had very early in their marriage put an end to all real affection” (Austen 180). As Austen describes in the first chapter, their personalities are clearly not well matched: “Mr. Bennet was so odd a mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, reserve and caprice, that the experience of three and twenty years had been insufficient to make his wife understand his character. Her mind was less difficult to develop” (Austen 3).They do not get along, as they are constantly insulting or ignoring one another, and their lack of stability and ill-matching has had a very negative impact on their children. In one typical conversation, Mrs. Bennet bemoans, “you take delight in vexing me. You have no compassion on my poor nerves” (Austen 2) and Mr. Bennet retorts sarcastically, “you mistake me, my dear. I have a high respect for your nerves. They are my old friends. I have heard you mention them with consideration these twenty years at least” (Austen 2). The combination of Mr. Bennet’s indifference and Mrs. Bennet’s frivolousness has resulted in their three youngest daughters growing up without any real intelligence or seriousness, spending all their time chasing after the military officers. Therefore, with their imprudence, Mr. and Mrs. Bennet have not only done harm to each other, but they have also done a great disservice their daughters and their upbringing.Charlotte and Mr. Collin’s union is presented as the most common sort of marriage in this period, and one that Elizabeth goes against, risking a future as an old maid in her choosiness, but intimately ending up with the best union. Charlotte and Mr. Collins’s reasons for marrying are purely pragmatic and dispassionate. While Mr. Collin’s proposal to Charlotte is never presented, his proposal to Elizabeth is enough to show his lack of understanding of the meaning of marriage. As he says to her,”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 in his parish. Secondly, that I am convinced it will add very greatly to my happiness; and thirdly. . .that it is the particular advice and very recommendation of the very noble lady whom I have the honour of calling patroness” (Austen 81).Charlotte’s pragmatic view of marriage is obvious after she accepts Mr. Collin’s proposal, as she reflects that he “was neither sensible nor agreeable; his society was irksome, and his attachment to her must be imaginary. But still he would be her husband” (Austen 95). Her practical view, if one can really call it that, is obvious considering the society she lives in, as she recognizes that “at the age of twenty-seven, without having ever been handsome, she felt all the good luck of it” (Austen 95). She does not have the luxury of choosiness as she runs the risk of “dying an old maid” (Austen 95). While to us, the idea of marriage without love seems a worse fate then simply spending one’s days alone, to most women in the 19th century, there was no worse fate than living as a poor single woman.Yet another example of an ill-matched union is that of Lydia and Wickham, which can be wholly attributed to Lydia’s frivolousness. Lydia foolishly elopes with Wickham, running the risk of ruining both her and her family’s reputation. Of course Lydia had thought that they were leaving to marry, but “neither her virtue nor her understanding would preserve her from falling an easy prey” (Austen 212), and she is too imprudent to realize that Wickham has no intention of marrying her. In order to protect the reputation and dignity of the Bennet family, Mr. Darcy very generously bribes Wickham to marry Lydia. One can guess what kind of a marriage results from such terms and Elizabeth observes that “Wickham’s affection for Lydia, was just what [she] had expected to find; not equal to Lydia’s for him” (Austen 241). Lydia clearly never even thinks about the fact that she would be spending the rest of her life with this man, as is typical of her flighty nature. As she foolishly brags to her embarrassed and pained family upon her return after her marriage, “when I went away, I am sure I had no more idea of being married till I came back again! Though I thought it would be very good fun if I was.” (Austen 240). Though the reader does not observe their marriage after this initial “honeymoon” phase, if one can call it that, the foreshadowing of their future misery is clear.The marriage between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy proves to be a great counterpart to these other unions in every way. Their relationship grows and develops over the course of the novel, their personalities are well matched, they improve each other’s character, and they have a great deal of love and respect for each other. Their relationship began with great animosity upon their first meeting when Mr. Darcy refused to dance with Elizabeth saying to Bingley, “she is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me” (Austen 7). And from then until nearly the end of the novel, Elizabeth firmly believes that Mr. Darcy is “the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world” (Austen 7). While Darcy’s feelings towards Elizabeth change quickly after the second dance, during which he requests Elizabeth’s hand and she refuses, it takes much longer for Elizabeth to warm up to him.Their growth as a couple, and also as individuals, is evident when comparing the interaction during Darcy’s first proposal and his second. In Darcy’s first proposal, his most disdainful traits, his pride and overt class consciousness are apparent. In his proposal Darcy makes it completely obvious that he did not want to marry her, and tried to stop himself from falling in love with her because of her low status, and the narrator remarks that “his sense of her inferiority- of its being a degradation- of the family obstacles which judgment had always opposed to inclination, were dwelt on with warmth” (Austen 145). He also shows how prideful he is as he shows no true fear or apprehension that his proposal might be rejected as he sees his proposal to Elizabeth as something she could not possibly dream of receiving, and would never imagine refusing. Elizabeth notices during his declaration that “he had no doubt of a favourable answer. He spoke of apprehension and anxiety, but his countenance expressed real security” (Austen 145). While Elizabeth’s rejection and dislike of Mr. Darcy is not really any surprise after the way he has acted towards her on several occasions, such as this one, it is also clear that Elizabeth relates to him with a great deal of prejudice, and even remarks herself that before he helped break up Jane and Bingley, which she decided upon with only second hand information, “my opinion of you was already decided” (Austen 145). Her unfavorable opinion of him was developed mainly by his relationship with Wickham, from the story that he told her, which is later learned to be wholly false.When one observes Darcy’s second proposal, it is obvious that their feelings towards each other have changed greatly, and that they have both improved greatly as people because of their interactions with each other. Darcy has shown himself to be much less class conscious, as he is able to interact with the Gardiners at Pemberely with great warmth and kindness, even though they are of a much lower class, and is less prideful in his entreaties to Elizabeth. Also, Elizabeth, after reading Darcy’s letter and observing Darcy more closely and with less prejudice, is able to see that, though he has his faults, Darcy is indeed a good man and she was too quick to judge him, often relying on second hand information in her judgments. His proposal itself is greatly changed in that he expresses his love and admiration for her, without discussing their class difference and his great superiority. When Elizabeth tells him that her feelings have changed Darcy responds like a man completely in love: “the happiness which this reply produced, was such as he had probably never felt before; and he expressed himself on the occasion as sensibly and warmly as a man violently in love can be supposed to do” (Austen 280). And Mr. Darcy sums up the change that both characters have undergone when he says that “though your accusations were ill-founded, formed on mistaken premises, my behavior to you at the time, had merited the severest reproof. I was unpardonable” (Austen 281). It is obvious that Darcy’s pride and Elizabeth’s prejudice are now gone and they will only have great happiness in their future together.In Pride and Prejudice Austen shows the reader a great alternative to marriages based on economic security, lust and the pursuit of beauty in the marriage between Elizabeth and Darcy, and of course also between Jane and Bingely. Though harder fought for, these marriages are sure to fair much better than the others as they are founded on mutual love and respect. And of course, Austen further illustrates her view by having the women who marry for love to be marrying far more handsome and wealthy men than any of the other women. Austen finishes her novel with the promise that it is indeed possible to find love and marriage, no matter how difficult or improbable it may seem.

The Good, the Bad, and the Perfect

Two English literary works, one a comedy and the other a tragedy, by two different authors of separate centuries, both have their fair share of characters who illustrate the admirable and the not-so-admirable of dispositions. Jane Austen’s socially satirical novel Pride and Prejudice from 1813 and William Shakespeare’s poetic poem King Lear from 1606 match each other very closely in the context of how good character reveals itself. In each piece, the authors present readers with a contrast between the wonderful and the terrible and act as puppet masters in the competition for the common object of desire; the “prizes” for Shakespeare’s dramatic characters are power and riches, and while Austen’s characters also aspire to possess affluence, their primary concern is high regard from others. In terms of Pride and Prejudice, all unfavorable characters commit different offenses against amiability in their quests for a flattering reputation, but Austen manipulates their actions so that each comes off as being an extrovert. Similar terms apply to King Lear in that Shakespeare’s disgraceful characters act grandiosely and employ dishonesty in attempts toward prosperity.As Pride and Prejudice’s villain in disguise, Mr. Wickham sets out to convince his new acquaintances of Hertfordshire that he is a victim of a heartless Mr. Darcy. He initiates discussion with Elizabeth about Darcy’s spiteful disposition and ventures so far as to claim to her sympathetic ears “I can never be in company with this Mr. Darcy without being grieved to the soul by a thousand tender recollections. His behavior to myself has been scandalous,” (59). Elizabeth later discovers Wickham’s accusations to be false in a letter from Darcy confiding in her that Wickham “recommended himself to Georgiana [so] that she was persuaded to believe herself in love and consent to and elopement; she was the but fifteen. […] His chief object was unquestionably [her] fortune.” (155). Wickham’s deceit is in his projection of a false self, which deviates greatly from his actual self. Some extroverts in the novel take their ostentation to a higher degree and make spectacles of themselves, earning the label of “fool” in the minds of those they hope to impress. Such is the case with Lydia, Mrs. Bennett, and Miss Bingley. The youngest and most reckless Bennett daughter, Lydia, runs away with the sleazy Wickham and thinks the ordeal so funny that she writes to a friend “You need not send them word at Longbourn of my going, for it will make it will make the surprise the greater when I write to them and sign my name Lydia Wickham.” (221). Lydia’s thoughtless mind-set is along the lines of that of her mother Mrs. Bennett, who brags that “Jane’s marrying so greatly must throw them in the way of other rich men.” (77). Miss Bingley is just as shallow as the two Bennetts with her hopes to win the favor of the wealthy Darcy. She ridicules Elizabeth, but only irritates Darcy when her gratuitous stroll around the room follows interruption of the man’s reading (41-42). Wickham, Lydia, Mrs. Bennett, and Miss Bingley all desire the envy of others, but their selfish and overt tendencies result in failure to reach any sort of respectability.The members of King Lear’s “bad team” are comparable to Austen’s extroverted characters in that they are ostentatious in their designs to attain the objects of desire, which are wealth, land, and esteem. Regan and Goneril, the ungrateful daughters of Lear, each vie for control of Lear’s kingdom. Regan outdoes her sister’s exaggerated claim of devotion when she declares to her father “[Goneril] names my very deed; only she comes too short that I profess myself an enemy to all other joys and find I am alone felicitate in your dear Highness’s love.” Lear then entrusts his well-being to his daughters, but Goneril describes her father as an old fool with the vulnerability of a baby (I,iii,20). When a power struggles arises between the sisters, the spiteful Goneril actually prefers a loss of the battle to Regan’s victory in attaining the favor of the equally wicked Edmund. (V,i,19).As the illegitimate son of the Earl of Gloucester, Edmund is second-rate in heir status, but is not deserving of readers’ pity. In the first act, he cunningly brings a forged letter to his father’s attention, detailing plans to usurp the earl; the letter is signed in Edgar’s name by the hand of the malicious Edmund (I,ii,48-57). King Lear himself makes a ridiculous demand on his children when he commands each to profess the amount of love she has for him as if love is quantifiable. This turns into a praise contest for the three daughters because to the child who claims the greatest devotion “the largest bounty may extend where nature doth with merit challenge” (I,i,54-55). Goneril’s opinion of Lear being a fool is an accurate judgment after her disowns Cordelia, the only sincere daughter. Lear, already in possession of wealth and a kingdom, is selfish and seeks worship in his elderly state while Edmund and the two phony daughters have material greed.A commonality among the evildoers of King Lear is that poor character is seen through a perversity and corruption of one’s self and of parent-child relationships. Regan and Goneril’s deceitful temperaments prove self-destructive (their treachery for power leads to their executions) as well as destructive of their father. Family has such a great influence in Pride and Prejudice because it is a domestic novel that one expects to find a similar form of ill will in Austen’s work. However, generally all characters, high and low, hold some regard for their elders. Rather, lack of good nature is seen only through a corruption of the individual’s self, which is evident in how characters like Lydia and Miss Bingley manage only to hurt their own reputation in efforts to gain admiration.The fault of Austen’s low-value characters is not in their wish for a good reputation; most of the Pride and Prejudice players seek admiration, some more so than others. The distinction between a character like Wickham and higher-value characters like Jane, Darcy, and Elizabeth is that the latter group is much more subtle and modest in their actions and never make fools of themselves when capturing attention. Jane, the eldest Bennet sister, is almost saintly as Elizabeth describes her as being the only person she knows “to be candid and without ostentation” (10). The Gardiner family leave their children in the care of Jane and not Mrs. Bennet for a week because it is the daughter who has “steady sense and sweetness of temper exactly adapted for attending to them in every way—teaching them, playing with them, and loving them” (183). Mr. Darcy does not have the nurturing disposition of Jane, but there is a hidden side of compassion in him, despite Wickham’s false accusations (59). Only reluctantly does he expose the true ugliness of Wickham’s character in a confidential letter to Elizabeth (150-156). By the third volume of the novel, Darcy takes it upon himself to pay the debts of his antagonist, Wickham, so he marries Lydia, thereby restoring the reputation of the Bennet family. His intentions are modest; he tells Elizabeth “That the wish of giving happiness to you I shall not deny. But your family owe me nothing. […] I thought only of you” (280). Elizabeth also wants to appear fine in others’ eyes, which is obvious in the concerns she expresses to her father over Lydia’s behavior: “Our importance, our respectability in the world, must be affected by the wild volatility…” (176). However, she is a loyal sister who treks through the raw elements of wind and muddy fields to be at the side of the sickly Jane (23-24). Elizabeth is modest even in performance at the Netherfield Ball as “she had been listened to with much more pleasure, though not playing half so well [as Mary],” who appoints herself as entertainer while Elizabeth plays on request (17). Though Elizabeth and Darcy are not as warm as Jane, they all have good character due to the introversion of their fine deeds.Those of good character in King Lear maintain a sense of duty to their superior after banishment and, unlike their evil counterparts such as Edmund and Goneril, they have no ulterior motives in their generosity. Edgar lives off the land as a recluse in the disguise of a “doleful, lunatic beggar” Tom O’Bedlam (I,i,146-147). He even goes so far as to feign madness, but later his father, Gloucester, loses his sight and depends on Edgar for guidance. Still posed as Tom, the gentle son supports Gloucester with the caring, yet misleading words “Give me thy arm, Poor Tom shall lead thee” (IV,i,80-81). Misleading because he does not tell his blind father his true identity, but it is the anonymity of his charity that reveals him as a noble character. Lear’s youngest and only honest daughter, Cordelia, faces disownment from her father when she fails to follow her sisters’ examples of eloquent speeches of devotion (I,i,89-91). She chooses to honestly express to her father “You have begot me, bred me, loved me. I return these duties back as are right fit, obey you, love, and most honor you” (I,i,97-102). Her oath holds true when her feeble father necessitates a caring soul; “O, look upon me, sir and hold your hand in benediction over me” she says to him during his descent into madness and state of invalidity. Lear also denounces his servant Kent for siding with Cordelia’s plight. Kent’s efforts to reason with the king by sounding in with “Royal Lear, whom I have honored as my king, loved as my father, as master followed” are futile (I,i,142-145). Not even Lears’s cruelty can deter the devotion of Kent as he returns to Lear’s side in disguise and solicits himself as a servant for the king (I,iv,1-44). Along with Edgar and Cordelia, Kent passes the ultimate test of loyalty by voluntarily coming to the aid of the hand that once pushed him away.If Shakespeare’s villains show disrespect for parents and elders, then Cordelia and Edgar demonstrate total faithfulness to their respective parents, especially in moments at which the elder is at his most vulnerable2E However, Edgar and Kent do not act in complete honesty due to their false, but harmless, identities. Austen detracts from Shakespeare in that characters of high value, like Darcy and Elizabeth, show respect for their superiors but do not look upon them in a positive light. Darcy even apologizes to Elizabeth for the unrefined manners of his aunt Lady Catherine, who is of a noble position. Good characters of Pride and Prejudice and King Lear’s Kent and Edgar do not match their words to their deeds at times, but it is always with tasteful intent.Although King Lear and Pride and Prejudice are of different genres, readers can match characters, good and bad, and draw parallels between their actions and contacts. Edmund and Wickham are extremely close in character, almost as if Austen modeled her villain after one of Shakespeare’s and placed him in the context of a satire. Both men put up a personable front and simultaneously manipulate others into turning against an innocent man, who stands in the villain’s way of attaining the want and desire. Edmund seeks possession of Edgar’s inheritance and convinces Gloucester of Edgar’s malevolence; Wickham damages Darcy’s reputation even though Darcy has knowledge of his immoral escapades and also has the power to expose the fraudulent man for what he truly is worth. Failure to reach the material goal awaits both Edmund and Wickham at the close of each work. A duke sends away the former as a criminal before he attains any form of wealth (V,iii,258) while Darcy forces the latter to marry an obnoxious fifteen-year-old, which ruins Wickham’s plans of gaining any positive status.Edgar and Darcy are on the other side of the conflicts of Edmund and Wickham, respectively, and they too parallel each other in that both are victims of rumor, but it is reasonable to initially write them off as merely adverse characters because of their flaws. Edgar takes on the persona of a mad vagabond when he actually has a lucid state of mind. Darcy never projects himself worthy of anyone’s sympathy; in the words of Elizabeth, the general impression of Darcy is that “he is not at all liked in Hertfordshire. Everybody is disgusted with his pride. You will not find him more favorably spoken of by anyone” (Austen 59). In spite of interference from another party, Edgar and Darcy both succeed in managing the desire of his interferer. As one of the last three still breathing after multiple deaths in the conclusion of King Lear, Edgar stands to inherit a mass of land to rule over, which is exactly what Edmund so craftily works to achieve from the start of the play. After the truth of Wickham comes out to Elizabeth, Darcy wins her admiration along with her hand in marriage. In the predicaments of Edgar and Darcy, their good will prevails and leads to reward despite minor character flaws.Character correspondence fits the relationship between Cordelia and Jane as well as it does for Edmund and Wickham, and Edgar and Darcy. Cordelia and Jane share common ground in roles as extremely humble and truthful daughters. However, even the humble are not without their imperfections. Though she is genuinely a good character, Cordelia is also a weak character with her inability to grow and create change. Her time in King Lear ends as a victim of execution (V,iii,255). Jane, being in a comedy, is not a casualty on Austen’s part; her flaw is in her inability to see ill nature in any being. She fails to recognize Miss Bingley’s efforts to hinder her growing relationship with Mr. Bingley, her newfound love. As is the case with Edgar and Darcy, Cordelia and Jane also find a rainbow after a metaphorical storm. The Lord of France takes Cordelia as his wife following her chastisement from Lear, but long before her unfortunate demise. Jane’s end is in the marriage to her equal in amiability, Mr. Bingley. While the paths of Cordelia and Jane diverge when one dies, both have virtuous character that overpowers her flaws to result in attainment of a kingdom for the Shakespeare’s quasi-heroine and admiration of a honorable man for Austen’s conflict-free character.The similitude of King Lear and Pride and Prejudice is in all characters’ want of a common goal—wealth and esteem in the tragedy, admiration and a noteworthy reputation in the comedy—but lowly characters choose tasteless, ostentatious, and extroverted methods in meeting the desire. Superior characters demonstrate non-public acts, and anonymous deeds in terms of King Lear, and always without selfish intent. Those successful in attaining the want in both works are on the good side, but inevitable flaws mildly contaminate their characters. As authors, Austen and Shakespeare have the power to personify perfection and invent a role with developed, first-rate, and unblemished character. No one is without fault; high-value characters are the next best example of humanity. Through two contrasting literary pieces, Austen and Shakespeare both present readers with the proposition that one need not be perfect to have noble and virtuous character.Works CitedAusten, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.Shakespeare, William. King Lear. England: Signet Classics, 1998.

Eloquence: The Window To the Soul and the Number One Requirement for a Successful Courtship

The world of Pride and Prejudice revolved around the relationships between its men and women. Austen made this theme obvious from the opening sentence. “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife,” (3; vI chI). The pages that followed dealt almost exclusively with the problems faced when trying to acquire a wife (or husband). This quest for a spouse was made difficult by the narrow focus of the book’s social gatherings. Jane and Bingley could not make their feelings for each other obvious because they were “never for many hours together; and as they always [saw] each other in large mixed parties, it [was] impossible that every moment should be employed in conversing together,” (15; vI chVI).This conversing together was the desired result of any gathering, because it was the only way potential suitors and suitees could get to know more about each other. Faced with life devoid of In-N-Out burgers, movie theaters, and frat parties, Jane Austen’s characters resorted to attendance at balls and afternoon teas to meet and better acquaint themselves with each other. Their interaction with members of the opposite sex was limited to the pleasantries exchanged while sipping or dancing. They knew each other almost exclusively through this polite conversation, and how well or poorly they conveyed their thoughts had a huge impact on how they were perceived. The eloquence of the characters of Pride and Prejudice, their ability to converse politely and entertain each other through interesting conversation, their wit or spirit, the extent to which they were able to show their intelligence, and their ability to convey an idea or point of view, was greatly esteemed because so much of what they knew about each other was based upon their words.Words, or a lack thereof, earned Darcy a reputation for pride and a disagreeable nature when he refused to speak to anyone he did not already know at his first ball at Meryton. “… he is such a disagreeable man that it would be quite a misfortune to be liked by him. Mrs. Long told me last night that he sat close to her for half an hour without once opening his lips,” (13; vI chV). Mrs. Bennet later added that he would have talked to Mrs. Long if he had been agreeable, making the connection between not speaking and being disagreeable is unmistakable. He was expected to converse, and his failure to do so reflected poorly upon his character. Darcy’s worth in society was based upon how well he was able to express himself, and half an hour of silence with Mrs. Long greatly lessened his social worth.Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst also fall victim to a character analysis based upon their conversation. Elizabeth was surprised by them when they exerted themselves so much to please, saying she “had never seen them so agreeable” and that, “Their powers of conversations were considerable,” (37; vI chXI). Not only was a quiet member of society condemned, but one that was outgoing and blessed with the gift of entertaining speech was praised. In this case, two women who had put little effort into their conversations and relationship with Elizabeth up to that point, resulting in her marked dislike, suddenly decided to try to improve Elizabeth’s opinion of them. This was accomplished by simply including her in an animated discussion. Elizabeth spent so much time talking with the people around her that her quality of life changed dramatically based upon how well they expressed themselves. If the people around Elizabeth could converse well and entertain, the many hours spent in conversation would pass by much more quickly and enjoyably.An entertaining friend was worth a great deal more than a talented or pretty one when extended periods of time were spent exchanging ideas. Beauty seemed to be an emphasis in the book since many references were made to the beauty or lack of beauty where the Bennet sisters and other characters were concerned. “[Mr. Bingley] had entertained hopes of being admitted to a sight of the young ladies, of whose beauty he had heard much,” (7; vI chIII). The reputation for beauty, not intelligence preceded the Bennet sisters, and yet the most desirable quality in the book is intelligence, specifically intelligence shown through conversation. Darcy fell in love not with Elizabeth’s looks, although her “fine eyes” were an added bonus once he got to know her, but with her eloquence. He even said initially that, “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me,” (9; vI chIII). Since he was later sufficiently tempted by her to propose marriage twice, something had to have changed his opinion of her. Her looks certainly did not change drastically during the course of the book; it was, rather, her conversation that won him over. Only two chapters after he told Bingley that Elizabeth did not interest him, he told Miss Bingley that she (Elizabeth) was pretty. His only exposure to her between these two events was when he, “as a step towards conversing with her himself, attended to her conversation with others,” (16-17; vI chVI), and so he got to know her by simply listening to her talk. If she had spoken poorly, used bad grammar, been rude, or even not spoken, Darcy would have gotten a very different impression of her character and her intelligence, and would have found nothing to merit a change in his opinion of her. Darcy even says, after he and Elizabeth are engaged, that he fell in love with her because of the “liveliness of [her] mind,” (248; vIII chXVIII). He liked the wit and, as she says, impertinence, of her conversation. Her subsequent marriage was a direct result of her intelligence, shown through her eloquence.Darcy’s eloquence, his ability to explain his actions and his history with Wickham, was also a very important part of his courtship of Elizabeth, playing a huge role in her change of heart. Elizabeth initially detested Darcy because she overheard him insult her. When her mother condemns him for not speaking at the Meryton ball, she replies by saying, “I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine,” (14; vI chV). His written words later won her over. Darcy’s letter explaining both his behavior and Wickham’s marked the turning point in his relationship with Elizabeth. Upon reading it “She grew absolutely ashamed of herself.— Of neither Darcy nor Wickham could she think, without feeling that she had been blind, partial, prejudiced, absurd,” (137; vII chXIII). She began to consider the unthinkable, to realize that, despite his difficulty expressing himself vocally, that he was eloquent, that he was intelligent, and that, perhaps, she had made a mistake in turning him down. She was not completely won over until he went to so much trouble to be charming to Elizabeth and her uncle and aunt when they visited his home. She realized when she was forced to leave that her feelings where Darcy was concerned had changed, that he had been very kind, and that she regretted having to leave so suddenly….Elizabeth felt how improbable it was that they should ever see each other again on such terms of cordiality as had marked their several meetings in Derbyshire; and as she threw a retrospective glance over the whole of their acquaintance, so full of contradictions and varieties, sighed at the perverseness of those feelings which would now have promoted its continuance and would formerly have rejoiced in its termination. (180-181; vIII chIV).It is then that she finally saw what he was capable of and began to allow herself to fall in love. Marriage to Darcy did not seem as undesirable on reflection as it had initially, once he proved that he was intelligent and capable of interesting conversation.Interesting conversation was really the only way Austen’s characters had to display their intelligence. The only mention of university in the whole book involved Wickham. Darcy said, “My father supported him at school, and afterwards at Cambridge,” (132; vII chXII), and all the female characters were taught at home if they were taught at all. Elizabeth said of her education that, “We [the Bennet sisters] were always encouraged to read, and had all the masters that were necessary. Those who chose to be idle, certainly might,” (110; vII chVI). There were no science fairs, SAT scores, or class ranks to impress a prospective suitor, so everyone was forced to rely upon their rhetorical skills to show that they were indeed clever. Practical knowledge was not even very highly esteemed, as none of gentry had to make a living. None of them made serious business decisions since for the most part they were born into their money, nor were they forced to worry about the inner workings of their own homes; servants did all that thinking for them. The only thing that could be done with intelligence was talk, and so the art of talking well was nurtured.Austen obviously valued intelligence above many other qualities that would have been arguably more useful in the same setting. Manual dexterity could have manifested itself much more obviously in needlework and other crafts than intelligence was able to show through in conversation. Coordination and a musical ear were necessary for dancing and playing an instrument, yet we know that Elizabeth did not play particularly well, and Darcy fell in love with her in spite of it. The same day Darcy first remarked on Elizabeth’s “fine eyes” she played piano for the whole group, and, “her performance was pleasing, though by no means capital,” (17; vI chVI). Eloquence and love were even paired together as if they were two parts of the same thing in the description of Mr. Collins’s proposal to Charlotte, although this was said with tongue in cheek as it is obvious to the reader that he had a different definition of both than Elizabeth and, arguably, Austen. (83; vI chXXII). Austen was a firm believer in the power of words, and her characters showed that. Darcy said to Elizabeth, about the effect the things she said to him when refusing his proposal had on him, “Those were your words. You know not, you can scarcely conceive, how they have tortured me,” (240; vIII chXVI). Austen believed that words were capable of really impacting those who heard or read them, and Darcy was evidence of that.It is interesting that Austen placed so much importance on words and eloquence since everything we know about her characters is related to us through her words and her eloquence. Austen instilled her own priorities into her characters, and her own intelligence and wit manifests itself in Elizabeth’s intelligence and wit. She says in a letter to her sister, Cassandra, after the novel was published that, “I think her [Elizabeth] as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print, & how I shall be able to tolerate those who do not like her at least, I do not know,” (273; 29 Jan 1813). Elizabeth was clearly the embodiment of all the characteristics that Austen admired. Had Austen been unable to express herself so clearly and humorously, had she spent more time perfecting her embroidery or piano skills than writing, this book would not have been able to capture the reader, and would have been a failure. Luckily Austen did not perfect her embroidery. Instead she wrote and left us with a legacy of books, stories, and letters to enjoy and remember her by. Not only was eloquence important to Austen’s characters, but it was obviously also important to Austen herself, since she spent so much of her life using and improving it.All the emphasis on eloquence was not so misplaced. People in relationships now are often so busy that little time is allotted for serious conversation, and we often know little about the people we care most about. How often during the course of the day do we come across someone who has a great deal of difficulty functioning in the “real world” because he unable to express himself? Eloquence was emphasized in Pride and Prejudice because so much of what the characters knew about each other was based upon their words. Are we so different? We ought to take a cue from Jane Austen and begin making the things we say and the way we say them a little more of a priority. A focus on interesting, intellectual, clear, witty, and polite conversation would make all the trips to In-N-Out Burger much more entertaining, and much more worth our time.Bibliography:Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. New York: Norton & Company, 2001.

Discretion and Design in Pride and Prejudice

The concept of “design” and calculation plays a prominent role in Pride and Prejudice. Design is used as an indicator of values, particularly in marriage, and presents the characters with a challenge in balancing scheming and morality in its use. Already in the opening lines we can see the presence of design in the narrator¹s fervent declaration that “a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” That Bingley is seen as an object to be won from the outset indicates the predatory attitude of society, which will use any means necessary to make things work according to the design of its members. Mr. Bennet also refers to Mr. Bingley¹s “¹design in settling here (5),¹” making it clear from the opening of the novel that design is an influential part of this society.This propensity for design does have a foundation. The characters live in a static financial situation. As none of them labor, there is no opportunity for the acquisition of money and power outside of design. The decline of accumulated family wealth, as is clearly demonstrated in the novel, is a central concern for individuals of the gentry. Social stigmas against labor keep these families from returning to the workforce to make their own fortunes, and so a different strategy must be adopted. Marriage in this world is by necessity more of a business enterprise than a demonstration of love. Women in particular have no livelihood outside of marriage, as they do not in general inherit their family¹s fortune. We see this dilemma in the relationship of the Bennetts with Mr. Collins, who is inheriting all of the family property, including the house, when Mr. Bennet dies. Women in particular, then, must engage in some design to secure a wealthy husband in order to provide for themselves. The economic dimension to marriage is a key element in the role of design in the world of Pride and Prejudice. Some element of design is considered good prudence, though a prudent woman must take care to avoid the extreme of mercenary behavior. On the other side, a woman must make sure that she gives enough importance to the economic aspect, and avoids a marriage that shows a total lack of sense and regard for her family and future. We see that it is primarily women who design in this novel, as men inherit family wealth and have less concern over which to design.Charlotte presents the clearest example of someone who acts in accordance with these challenges of financial security. The entire Lucas family, facing a significant decline in their family wealth, has prudent interests in mind, believing “Mr. Collins¹s present circumstances made it a most eligible match for their daughter, to whom they could give little fortuneŠ Lady Lucas began directly to calculate how many years longer Mr. Bennett was likely to live (103).” Driven by these interests for herself and her family, Charlotte schemes to marry Mr. Collins. For this she uses such methods as when she “perceived him from an upper window as he walked towards the house, instantly set out to meet him accidentally in the lane (102).” This design on Mr. Collins can be regarded as mercenary, but also shows prudence given Charlotte¹s situation.A more clearly cold and calculating form of design is seen in the dynastic ambitions of Lady Catherine. She has had a long-developed plan for Darcy to marry her daughter in order to create a family dynasty of wealth. She extends this design on the lives of the young people to include Elizabeth, in a scheme of intimidating her away from tempting Darcy with her “¹arts and allurements (which) may, in a moment of infatuation, have made him forget what he owes to himself and to all his family (285).¹” In order to maintain her family power, she must work to ensure the outcome of Mr. Darcy¹s marriage choice. Much of what Lady Catherine is saying bears some moral weight. A choice about marriage in Pride and Prejudice affects entire families, rather than just the individual. This impact was clearly seen by Lydia¹s transgression and the references made to the shame it would bring on her entire family. Lady Catherine is designing with this idea of family interests in mind, but she goes too far and defines family interests in such a way as to justify her immoral bid for power.Miss Bingley also displays a cold and calculating design in her attempts to portray Elizabeth in a negative light to Darcy. She hopes that by ensuring Darcy¹s contempt for Elizabeth, she may thus be free to cajole him into a greater affection for herself. This criticism makes plain her design in its frequently desperate tone. She says “¹How very ill Eliza Bennett looks this morning, Mr. Darcy, I never in my life say anyone so much altered as she is since the winter. She is grown so brown and coarse! (220),¹” and later “¹her eyes, which have sometimes been called so fineŠThey have a sharp, shrewish lookŠ and in her air altogether, there is a self-sufficiency without fashion, which is intolerable (221).¹” Miss Bingley¹s design, in its artlessness, is clearly perceived by all of the characters in the novel. On hearing of Darcy¹s pre-engagement to Miss de Bourgh, Elizabeth gives a “smile, as she thought of poor Miss Bingley. Vain indeed must be all her attentions, vain and useless her affection for his sister and her praise of himself, if he were already self-destined to another (71).” Design in Pride and Prejudice is not only used in the name of prudence, but also for sentiment. Darcy shows this when he designs to keep Bingley away from Jane. He does this by following him when he leaves the town on business, and convincing him to stay there, “congratulating himself on having lately saved a friend from the inconveniences of a most imprudent marriage (153).” While this has negative results and is an interference in another¹s life, the intentions were noble and he engages in no deceit of his character and fully admits his role, saying “¹I do not suppose that it (the Bennett family) would ultimately have prevented the marriage, had it not been seconded by the assurance which I hesitated not in giving, of your sister¹s indifferenceŠTo persuade him against returning into Hertfordshire (164).¹”We see throughout this novel that design can have a good side, or at least result from good intentions. As mentioned before, it IS necessary for women to design in order to ensure their futures; this is a social reality in the world in which the characters live. Social structure makes it difficult to meet eligible husbands without some element of design, so a set of social strategies for securing a husband develops, including balls and strategic visits. We see this when the female Bennetts are pressuring Mr. Bennett to visit Bingley in the beginning of the novel. As a young woman is unlikely to meet eligible men without these social tools, this is an acceptable form of design, the general idea being that if good things are going to happen, an individual must arrange the world to make it so. The challenge, however, is employing these strategies without allowing oneself to become overly immersed in the scheming, and then the deception, elements of design. This is a distinction that Austen¹s characters struggle to make; securing their futures without falling into the trap of mercenary plotting, and the true character of each individual may be judged by their ability and determination to avoid this trap. The existence of so much design makes it difficult to truly assess the character and feelings of people that are presented in the novel. Characters live in uncertainty of the true nature and intentions of their acquaintances, particularly in regard to marriage. Those with wealth must be careful to ascertain their suitor¹s motives. The characters in the novel depend largely on appearance to judge character, but appearance can be used to mask the design underneath. Lizzy is suspicious of Darcy designing against her, and using his appearance and manner to disguise his character. Wickham is the most deceptive character in the novel, using the advantage of his appearance to advance a scheme to besmirch the name of Mr. Darcy. Wickham also displays this mercenary design in his interest in Miss King, whom he “¹paid (her) not the smallest attention, till her grandfather¹s death made her mistress of this fortune (128).¹” Design may also demonstrate the quality of character of the designers themselves. Darcy uses good scheming to attempt to save his friend, and thus through design proves his own good character. Charlotte uses schemes, but no deception of her character. Wickham, however, regularly uses deception for mercenary purposes. The type of design engaged in by individuals shows their true “character” in a society in which everyone must design.This raises a key question; does Lizzy herself design? We are given some hint of this when she sees Pemberly and says “¹I might have been mistress! With these rooms I might now have been familiarly acquainted (202)!¹” and immediately afterwards “thought of his (Darcy¹s) regard with a deeper sentiment of gratitude than it had ever raised beforeŠShe longed to knowŠ in what manner he thought of her (205-207).” Her behavior towards Darcy changes as well when she is confronted with his wealth; she acts less sarcastic and friendlier towards him. The narrator¹s closeness with Lizzy, however, gives weight to the interpretation that her reversal of feelings is genuine, and that she is not merely giving in to her mercenary desires and altering her behavior in a design to marry him. The idea that Darcy¹s property and its management reflect a greater moral significance is highlighted here to release her from suspicions of calculation. She is credited with thinking “As a brother, a landlord, a master, she considered how many people¹s happiness were in his guardianshipŠshe thought of his regard with a deeper sentiment of gratitude than it had ever raised before (205).” This may still be seen as an expression of mercenary design in securing a man with such considerable power, but it seems clear that the purpose of this elaboration on Darcy¹s “noblesse oblige” is instead to credit Elizabeth with deeper sentiments founding her transition.Speculation about design demonstrates the moral and social challenges in courtship. The fact that some design is necessary in order to preserve oneself raises a social challenge in securing a prudent marriage, and a moral dilemma about the place of sentiment in marriage, and how much design is acceptable. Lizzy asks of us “¹what is the difference in matrimonial affairs, between the mercenary and the prudent motive? Where does discretion end, and avarice begin (128)?¹” The central position of these questions in the Victorian world leads to the prominence of design in Pride and Prejudice.

Money as Social Currency in the Society Described in Pride and Prejudice

In the society described in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, money was as much a social currency as it was a means of exchange for goods and services. Money was often commensurate with social rank, yet there was a feeling against parvenus who worked for their fortunes. As the mark of an eligible bachelor or an avenue to gentility or a genteel career, money had a great part to play in the society in which Pride and Prejudice, a novel of manners, is set.”It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” This sentence, one of the most famous first lines in English literature, begins Pride and Prejudice, stating quite clearly the central position of marriage in the book and the central position of money in marriage. Mrs. Bennet is obsessed with the concern of seeing her five daughters, who will not receive their father’s estate, “well married,” that is, married to a man of good means. Mrs. Bennet and her neighbors are entranced by Mr. Bingley’s “four or five thousand a year,” and even more bowled over by Mr. Darcy’s income of ten thousand pounds a year. Pride and Prejudice provides examples of purely mercenary matches, and even the happiest marriages in the book have their monetary concerns.Mr. Wickham is not a good mate because of his relative poverty, and is seen as mercenary by the Bennet girls when he tries to marry Ms. King, heiress to a fortune of ten thousand pounds. The Bennets’ shame in Wickham’s elopement with Lydia is somewhat ameliorated when Darcy buys a respectable commission in the army for Wickham, who was loathe to ally himself with a girl of such small fortune as Lydia. Charlotte Lucas marries the disagreeable Mr. Collins because he has a comfortable living under the patronage of Lady Catherine, and at the age of twenty-seven, Charlotte is in danger of becoming an old maid. Elizabeth puts it well when she remarks to herself on leaving Hunsford, “Poor Charlotte! — it was melancholy to leave her to such society! — But she had chosen it with her eyes open; […] Her home and her housekeeping, her parish and her poultry, and all their dependent concerns, had not yet lost their charms.”The two eldest Bennet girls are destined to happier marriages than these, but money still enters into the picture. Even levelheaded Elizabeth, who refuses proposals from Mr. Collins and the immensely rich Mr. Darcy, is only half-joking when she answers Jane’s question as to when she started to love Darcy, “I believe I must date it from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley.” Indeed, when she visits Mr. Darcy’s magnificent estate she remarks to herself “that to be mistress of Pemberley might be something!” Bingley’s sisters bemoan the fact that with Jane’s “low connections” she will hardly be able to see herself “well settled.” Bingley, in the spirit of love, says in response, “If they had uncles enough to fill all Cheapside [(a less desirable distict)], it would not make them one jot less agreeable.” Darcy says to this, “But it must very materially lessen their chance of marrying men of any consideration in the world.” This exchange is very telling: Bingley’s sisters maneuver Bingley away from Jane with Darcy’s help, while Ms. Bingley constantly reminds Darcy of the impropriety of his admiration for Elizabeth and “her fine eyes.” When Darcy later overcomes his social restraint in marrying Elizabeth and bringing Bingley and Jane together again, Mrs. Bennet can only excitedly muse on Mr. Darcy’s fortune, exclaiming, “Ten thousand a year! ‘Tis as good as a Lord!” Although Jane and the book’s heroine overcome the winds of Fortune in their marriages, it is in the obstacles to their marriages that the importance of money in marriage before happiness in marriage becomes most painfully apparent.Aside from marriage, money was an avenue to a respectable career and even to a title. A fine example of this is Sir William Lucas, who was a tradesman in Meryton until, after being mayor, he was knighted. In Austen’s time, the only truly respectable way to live was off of the interest of one’s money and estate, and Sir William, loyal to social mores, left Meryton and his business there to preside over a house a mile out of town, henceforth titled Lucas Lodge. A slimier example of the social expediency of money is found in Wickham, who, from manipulating the Darcy will to trying to elope with Mr. Darcy’s sister, is constantly conspiring to get the money his birth denied him. Darcy, his hand influenced by Lydia’s dire position on the brink of disrepute, buys him what he wants: a commission in the army, a respectable career.Even so, money was not directly convertible into rank. Ms. Bingley, herself engaged in brazen pursuit of Darcy and his fortune, reminds Darcy of Elizabeth’s ancestry when she envisions hanging a portrait of Elizabeth’s uncle Philips, a mere attorney, next to that of Darcy’s great-uncle, a judge, at the noble estate of Pemberley. Bingley himself does not come from a noble line, and is being urged to buy an estate to consolidate his position of gentility in society. Lady Catherine makes much of her vaunted ancestors and the propriety of her daughter’s putative marriage to Darcy. The question of money in relation to social class is a knotty one, with the entrenched upper class, some of them not so long in their fortunes, often sneering on the irresistible advance of the nouveux riches.Money does indeed play an important role in the social and marital politics of the 19th century England in which Pride and Prejudice was written and in which it is set. It is part of the medium in which pride and prejudice, greed and superciliousness breed, then as now. Though the social paradigms of Jane Austen’s England are different from those we see today, the cold feelings engendered by differences in money and position are universal and the importance of overcoming them, as Elizabeth and Darcy, Jane and Bingley do, is timeless. Pride and Prejudice, a novel predicated on the position of money in 19th century England, still rings true in 21st century America, where some still marry for money but the wise still marry for love.

Elizabeth Loves Power, Not Populism

The community featured in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice has entrenched societal systems known as “propriety”. This “propriety” is a cultural code of conduct that dictates the lifestyles of the cultural citizens and defines success for the community. On many occasions, the protagonist Elizabeth Bennett criticizes or doubts this system of propriety. She feels it judges without worthy evidence and denies citizens the right to fulfill their identities and desires. However, Elizabeth uses the same methods to assign others a social value lower than her own. The inconsistency in Elizabeth’s attitude towards judgment suggests that she believes social inequalities exist between people, but just refuses to acknowledge those without her at the top. One person who Elizabeth judges as unworthy of equal respect is Mr. Collins. Elizabeth’s initial judgment of Mr. Collins is that he is not worth spending her time on. Elizabeth resists speaking with Mr. Collins in the first place, and consents to the conversation only to “get it over as soon and as quietly as possible” (91). Her feelings “[a]re divided between distress and diversion,” and his mere presence “ma[kes] Elizabeth…near laughing,” indicating she does not respect his thoughts (91 – 92). Because she disagrees with his perspective, she disagrees with his existence. In refuting upper class expectations of conventional marriage, Elizabeth simultaneously refutes Mr. Collins’ right to agree with those conventions. She judges him as having misaligned priorities, and is not interested in genuinely listening to him or considering that there is validity to his perspective.Elizabeth extends these judgments of conformity to her friend Charlotte, who decides to marry Mr. Collins. While Elizabeth refuses to marry Mr. Collins even though it would have been financially beneficial for her and her family, her best friend has different values. Charlotte Lucas prioritizes her economic security and social reputation over the satisfaction of her lust or her ideal of romantic love and agrees to Mr. Collins’ proposal. While Elizabeth feels emotional satisfaction will come only from love, Charlotte feels she will be emotionally satisfied by the assurance of a stable position. Elizabeth cannot imagine that there is validity to Charlotte’s choice. Indeed, she has difficulty imagining that the choice actually happens: “she could not have supposed it possible that when called into action she would have sacrificed every better feeling to worldly advantage,” (110). The use of “better” prominently indicates the Elizabeth is judging Charlotte; she believes Charlotte’s feelings to be less worthy of respect and acceptance than her own. Furthermore, Elizabeth’s judgment of Charlotte fittingly represents her approach to her entire community. In Elizabeth’s mind, everyone should follow their “feelings” – which she seems to think are abstract emotions independent of external conditions, like love but not like security – and those who do not are lacking in character. However, Elizabeth’s community tends to function as if everyone should follow the “rules” – which have everything to do with external conditions like security and little to do with abstract emotions like love – and as if those who do not are lacking in character. By marrying Mr. Collins, Charlotte decides to participate in this cultural ideology and the corresponding systems. Thus, when Elizabeth says that “it [is] impossible for [Charlotte] to be tolerably happy in the lot she ha[s] chosen,” she is furthermore suggesting that it is impossible for someone to be “tolerably happy” in a society that mandates such choices (110). The judgment that offers the most insight into Elizabeth’s conflict is her hierarchical placement of her servants. This relationship shows that Elizabeth’s feelings about a general inequality change depending on whether a specific instance of that inequality increases or decreases her power. That Elizabeth’s family has servants, and that, moreover, Elizabeth raises no objection to this demonstrates that Elizabeth’s concerns over the restrictions of social class are very self – centered. Elizabeth seems to dislike Lady Catherine de Bourg, as is demonstrated by her anxiousness to depart from Rosings and her contempt towards the Lady when she pries into Mr. Darcy’s feelings towards Elizabeth. She takes issue with Lady Catherine’s “condescension” towards Elizabeth and the Bennett family, as well as the arrogance Lady Catherine displays in dictating the terms of Elizabeth’s relationship, or lack thereof, with Mr. Darcy (184). When Lady Catherine arrives unannounced to the Bennett residence, “more than usually insolent and disagreeable”, she repeatedly emphasizes the elevation of her social class in comparison to Elizabeth’s by saying “[Elizabeth] ought to know that [Lady Catherine is] not to be trifled with” and threatening that Elizabeth “will be a disgrace; [her] name will never be mentioned by any of [the upper class]” if she does not comply with Lady Catherine’s wishes (303, 305). While many people, including much of Elizabeth’s family, would submit to these assaults and passively comply to the Lady, Elizabeth “colour[s] with astonishment and disdain” and responds with stinging frankness, reflecting her invalidation of upper class superiority and dissent of the cultural norms (303). She feels she has individual rights, and that other individuals do not have the right to encroach on these rights. In other words, she has the right to “not choose to answer” Lady Catherine’s questions and to kick Lady Catherine off the Bennett property, but Lady Catherine’s personal choices are not entitled to “have [an] effect on [her]” (304, 305). However, simultaneous to all this rebellion and dissent, Elizabeth acts like Catherine de Bourgh in relationship to the Bennetts’ servants. Lady Catherine demands Elizabeth complies with her desires; the Bennetts demand the same from their servants. Indeed, compliance is the function of a domestic worker; their job is to attend to the necessities and personal wants of their master. Just like Lady Catherine, Elizabeth’s family exhibits condescension and arrogance by subjugating domestic employees, and by valuing them not as human beings but as material possessions that indicate social success. Thus, Elizabeth is, in no uncertain terms, a hypocrite. She wishes her family was treated with respect despite their reputation. She finds the commonly accepted cultural norms to be unjust and thinks it unfair that she cannot achieve her desires as a result of those norms. She believes in individual rights and individual values. However, she does not respect people with different perspectives or priorities. She refuses to expand her definition of happiness or include other factors or emotions. She exploits an economically disadvantaged class in order to increase her own power. In short, she wants the best for herself. She will combat anything that oppresses her, and conquer anything that will reward her, all under the false umbrella of system – wide ideals.

The Theatre in Society

In Pride and Prejudice, society features as an important aspect of every individual’s life. Each character is inextricably enmeshed in the web of society, and must perform various roles in accordance with the demands of society. In the comic mode of the novel, society reinforces its continuance by tending toward conformity and the status quo. Characters with personalities not entirely in congruence with the roles demanded of him or her experience a tension between their private and public selves. For example, Darcy and Mr. Bennet choose to adhere to the integrity of their private or “true” selves, and end up compromising their civility. Other characters never experience such a tension, and their behavior does not vary in either public or private settings. It is Elizabeth, the heroine of the novel, who achieves the most satisfying balance between fidelity to the integrity of the private self and the civil demands of society – a trait that Darcy must eventually learn in order to gain Elizabeth’s respect and love.Mr. Bennet is described by the narrator as a “true philosopher,” deriving amusement from others “where other powers of entertainment are wanting.” As a complex character incarcerated in a mindless provincial society, Mr. Bennet initially draws less criticism (and less favour) from readers. Twenty years of being acquainted with Mrs. Bennet’s nerves are enough for him to be sufficiently “fatigued” of being the husband of a silly, insensible woman. Mr. Bennet indulges in what Irving Goffman calls “role distance” – he employs ironic gestures of detachment in order to sustain the integrity of his private self – a reasonable, intelligent man – and refuses to engage with Mrs. Bennet on a serious, intimate level, using her merely for frivolous entertainment. All Mr. Bennet does is perform the bare minimum of his role as a husband without being motivated by any sincere emotions. While he does visit Mr. Bingley in order to allow his daughters a chance to become acquainted with such an eligible bachelor, he does so only after constantly “assuring his wife that he should not go,” amusing himself with her insensible fretting. His disengagement also includes his abdication of sincere parental responsibility: ultimately, it is revealed that he refuses to see Bingley for the sake of “the astonishment of the ladies.”At these points in the novel, performances lacking individual energy – indeed vacuous adherence to civil proper form – are more or less innocuous and offer merely comic interludes. Elsewhere, however, Austen shows that retreating behind ironic humor and distance can have more serious consequences. When Elizabeth exhorts her father to prevent Lydia from going to Brighton, Mr. Bennet once again retreats behind his wit and performs his paternal role rather badly. Elizabeth, who “represented to him all the improprieties of Lydia’s general behavior,” attempts to engage his father to respond seriously by speaking of “general evils” – “our importance, our respectability in the world, must be affected by the wild volatility, the assurance and disdain of all restraint which mark Lydia’s character.” Mr. Bennet’s response, however, shows that he is not taking Elizabeth seriously – “What has she frightened away some of your lovers? Poor little Lizzy!” While he is indeed playing the role of the father, such “concern” has no sincere emotion behind it, and is in fact inappropriate given the subject matter. Despite Elizabeth’s earnest exhortations, Mr. Bennet remains impenetrable as he once again shields himself with his intelligence, fabricating a convenient excuse that “[Lydia’s] being there may teach her her own insignificance.” While logically possible, it is unlikely to occur given Lydia’s “animal spirits.” Without any emotional energy undergirding his action (or in this case inaction), Mr. Bennet fails to appreciate the full extent of harm which could occur to the whole family. The eventual denouement of the plot vindicates Elizabeth’s frustration and concern, for Lydia ultimately not only fails to learn of her “insignificance,” she even manages to end up eloping with Wickham, thereby disgracing her entire family. Mr. Darcy, while not so much of a cynic as Mr. Bennet, is nonetheless similarly rational and perhaps idealistic. His principles, while sound, are too rigid and inflexible. “Disguise of any sort is my abhorrence” – Caroline Bingley cannot gain his good opinion because she is superficial and hypocritical, constantly fawning over Darcy in order to get his attention. As Darcy mentions, “there is meanness in all the arts which women sometimes employ to captivate men.”Good principles nonetheless have to be reconciled with society. In a novel of manners, deportment is what is visible on the social scene. Yet in every social setting roles have to be played. Darcy is, despite his tendencies, unable to fully appreciate the need for role-playing – the key factor to sustaining social interaction. The private self cannot be expected to be fully represented in any one public setting. He slights Elizabeth at the ball and refuses to dance because he has no intention of forming lasting attachments with any one of them. He refuses to acquiesce to the social courtesies of dancing (especially when men are scarce) which would entail a compromise of his true self – the part of him which has not a modicum of desire to become acquainted with any of the girls. Dancing without emotional intent would constitute “disguise,” which is, to him, nothing less than odiously hypocritical.Fortunately, however, Elizabeth manages to influence him by the end of the novel. She accuses him of never behaving in a “gentleman-like manner,” a piece of criticism with which Darcy admits to have “tormented” him. Toward the end of the novel he is able to, like Elizabeth, “unite civility and truth” by committing individual energy, thought and emotion into the forms of civility, conferring meaning upon them in a way that empty individuals like Mrs. Bennet cannot. Their civility remains merely empty form.“My object then…was to shew you, by every civility in my power, that I was not so mean as to resent the past”: Darcy has come to use civility – the performance – to express himself. The performing and the reflecting self are hence harmonized. Previously, he looked contemptuously at Mr. Collins’ obsequious manner with an expression of “unrestrained wonder” and remained aloof to Sir William’s attempts at conversation. He no longer sees holding back his true (and justified) thoughts about them as acts of hypocrisy, but rather appreciates them as necessary performances to be played in a civil society. Eventually he comes to bear Collins’ sycophantic manner with “admirable calmness” and “shrug[s] his shoulders” only when Sir William is out of sight.Elizabeth represents the most satisfying union of performance and integrity. She possesses wit like Mr. Bennet, though none of his cynicism, and like Darcy holds the integrity of the self over outward form. Therefore, she never dissolves into the roles she plays. She refuses to submit to Mrs. Bennet’s demands to marry Mr. Collins and play the role of a woman in an androcentric society who marries for economic and social stability; she refuses to play the role of a fawning lover when the very rich Darcy first proposes to her; she also refuses to accept the role of an intimidated social inferior when Lady Catherine comes to impose her imperious authority on her. Her irony and wit allow her greater expression in her performances than Darcy – essentially, with her sense of irony she is capable of saying the opposite of what she means, and capable of keeping civil form whilst expressing herself to others who share her values and are hence able to catch the true intent of her ironic words. Initially she occasionally slips into self-indulgent irony – a trait she inherited from her father. “Mr. Darcy is all politeness” she says. Darcy, at this point, is unaware of her intense dislike of him, and William Lucas, who is also at the scene, similarly misunderstands her words. Like Mr. Bennet, she ends up delighting in private expression, humoring herself rather than communicating anything sincere to anyone.Nonetheless, Elizabeth’s liveliness secures her wit by the end of the novel, where she parodies the behavior of conventional lovers with Darcy (“To be sure, you knew no actual good of me – but nobody thinks of that when they fall in love”), using irony to establish the fact that she is aware of the limitations of conventional romantic love to a Darcy who is now capable of understanding her (“Was there no good in your affectionate behavior to Jane while she was ill at Netherfield?”). Elizabeth simultaneously indulges in the performance of blissful lovers while delighting in the very limitations of the performance.

From Contempt to Love: Elizabeth and Darcy’s Evolution

The need to reconsider first impressions runs throughout Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Both Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy judge one another harshly based on first impressions, while Elizabeth also forms judgments of Mr. Wickham and Miss Darcy. Throughout the novel, as Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy see each other and others in a new light, more accurate opinions based upon fact and understanding replace their first opinions based upon impressions, rumors, and prejudices. Because they allow their ideas to evolve throughout the novel, they open themselves up to the possibility and reality of love. Mr. Darcy’s initial contempt of Elizabeth is evident when he forms an immediate impression of Elizabeth the first time he sees her at a ball. He says, “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me” (Austen 7). Mr. Bingley suggests that Darcy take Elizabeth as a dance partner, but Darcy declines on the grounds that she lacks beauty. He also says that he does not want to stoop so low as to dance with a girl all of the other men at the ball reject. After that, he persists in criticizing her and will not allow himself to see her as pretty. However, his attitude toward her changes fairly rapidly. By chapter six, he finds that instead of looking for fault in her, her manners please him and he notices her expressive eyes, intelligence, and nice figure. To his own surprise, he “wish[es] to know more of her” (15). Thus, the evolution begins. Elizabeth also starts out with a negative first impression of Mr. Darcy, but it takes her a little longer to change her mind. She judges Mr. Darcy to be too proud not long after he arrives at the dance, but when she overhears his reasons for not asking her to dance, she “remain[s] with no very cordial feelings toward him” (7). Following the dance, Mrs. Bennet comments on Darcy’s pride and rudeness, to which Elizabeth replies that she “may safely promise…never to dance with him” (12), clearly demonstrating her initial disdain. Even after Mr. Darcy begins to warm up to Elizabeth, she tells Mr. Wickham that she finds Darcy to be “very disagreeable” (53). Upon hearing Mr. Wickham’s woeful tale, in which Mr. Darcy is the villain, she further judges Mr. Darcy’s character as despicable. When Mr. Darcy pays a visit to the Collins’ abode during Elizabeth’s stay at Charlotte’s new home, Charlotte observes that without Elizabeth’s presence, “Mr. Darcy would never have come so soon to wait upon me” (116). This observation attests to Darcy’s growing affection for Elizabeth. Later, Elizabeth attends Rosings, the home of Lady Catherine, with Charlotte and Mr. Collins. Mr. Darcy visits Rosings at the same time and engages in a very civil, at times even playful, conversation with Elizabeth regarding the misfortunes of prejudgment. He reveals that he regrets having made such hasty judgment of Elizabeth. His feelings of fondness for Elizabeth continue to grow until he can no longer repress them, and he calls on her at Charlotte’s to tell her, “How ardently I admire and love you” and to ask for her hand in marriage (129). Unfortunately, though he has come to love her, he still sees her as below him because of her financial and social situation. He makes no effort to hide his feelings of superiority from Elizabeth, causing her to turn him down. During her frequent encounters with Mr. Darcy at Rosings, Elizabeth begins to see a more civil side of him, and during her playful conversation with him, he admits that he regrets his hasty judgment of her. However, she still does not view him as a good man due to her misconceptions about his treatment of Wickham. Darcy’s arrogant marriage proposal infuriates her. She tells him that she cannot express gratitude for the offer because, she says, “I have never desired your good opinion, and you have certainly bestowed it unwillingly” (129). She recognizes that he still sees her as beneath him and that he views this prejudice as something merely to deal with rather than to expel. After his rejection by Elizabeth, Darcy writes her a letter in which he assures her that he will not reiterate his marriage proposal, but writes to amend her misconceptions of the situation with Wickham, because Wickham has told Elizabeth that Mr. Darcy has cheated Wickham out of money left him by Mr. Darcy’s father. During Elizabeth’s visit to Pemberley with her Aunt and Uncle Gardiner, they explore Darcy’s beautiful estate. When Darcy arrives unexpectedly, Elizabeth is embarrassed, but he treats her with the sincerest kindness, care, and concern. He realizes that though her aunt and uncle are not of a high social position, they have perfect manners and he likes them much more than he likes Elizabeth’s mother, Mrs. Bennet. He invites the three of them back to Pemberley and insists that Elizabeth meet his sister whom he cares about very much and to whom he has been a father-figure, demonstrating how very much he wants Elizabeth to be a part of his life. When Elizabeth receives Darcy’s letter, she at first wants to disregard it, “protesting…that she would never look in it again” (139). Then she recalls Wickham’s behavior when he told her of all of Mr. Darcy’s misdeeds. The realization hits her for the first time that Wickham’s words had been inappropriate and that he had had “no scruples in sinking Mr. Darcy’s character” (140). As much as she wants to believe the best about Wickham and the worst about Darcy, she can no longer deny that Wickham is clearly in the wrong and Darcy must be telling the truth. Upon meeting Wickham again, she sees “in the very gentleness which had first delighted her, an affectation and a sameness to disgust and weary” (157). Elizabeth now sees the error in her first impression of Wickham. Visiting Pemberley proves itself the real turning point for Elizabeth. A beautiful and natural landscape surrounds Darcy’s home. His elegant furnishings demonstrate exquisite, but not ostentatious, taste. His housekeeper has nothing but wonderful things to say about him and confirms Darcy’s version of Wickham’s story. As Elizabeth stands in his home, she thinks, “Of this place… I might have been mistress” (164). Darcy’s unexpected arrival surprises and embarrasses Elizabeth, but he treats her kindly, which left her “amazed at the alteration in his manner since they last parted” (168). When she and her aunt and uncle dine with Darcy, she meets his sister and likes her very much, regardless of her preconception of Miss Darcy’s exceeding pride. When Elizabeth finds out that her sister, Lydia, has run off with Wickham, Darcy immediately sets out to find them, and when he does find them, he uses his own financial means to settle a marriage between them. He keeps it a secret, but Lydia lets it slip to Elizabeth. When Bingley comes back to visit Jane, he brings Darcy with him, giving Darcy and Elizabeth ample time alone together. During a walk, Darcy proposes again, but this time he has evolved into a person who can do so without any prejudices against Elizabeth’s social and financial standing. Hearing of Mr. Darcy’s concern and generosity in her sister’s scandal cements her new view of him as a very good man. By the time he comes back to visit her with Bingley and proposes, now free of his former prejudices, she has grown to love him and accepts his offer. Because Elizabeth and Darcy allow their impressions of one another to continually change throughout the novel as more truths are revealed to them, they fall in love. If both of them had clung to that first judgment of the other, Elizabeth and Darcy would never have seen in each other the person they were meant to love for the rest of their lives. However, their evolution from contempt to love does not happen all at once. Rather, bit by bit, as their encounters reveal more, they let go of their prejudices because to hold onto them would be to lie to themselves and to each other. Both characters must step back from the first judgments they made and rejudge one another based on the new information and understanding they have acquired.