Evolution Of Darcy and Elizabeth From Pride And Prejudice
Change is an inevitable part of life. It can brought about in numerous of ways and the result of it can either negatively or positively impact a person’s life. However, several ups and downs are likely to occur before the results of change can be reached. In the novel, Pride and Prejudice, the two main characters, Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy experience the process of change. Written by Jane Austen between 1796 and 1813, Pride and Prejudice follows Elizabeth Bennet and how she deals with several society issues during the 19th century. She encounters Mr. Darcy, a wealthy gentleman, whose flaw is being too prideful which causes Elizabeth to immediately dislike him. On the other hand, Elizabeth has a flaw of her own which is being too judgmental. Both characters, however, are able to overcome these flaws and in turn, better themselves. Throughout the novel Pride and Prejudice, several specific events cause Darcy to become more humbled and Elizabeth to become less judgmental which brings them together and leads them to their happy ending.
In the novel, Darcy’s and Elizabeth’s natures are apparent from the very beginning and cause them to have a bad start to their relationship. Darcy’s prideful attitude is prevalent and in turn creates a bad reputation for himself during the ball at Meryton. Austen shows that Darcy’s reputation has turned for the worst by saying, “…He was looked at with great admiration for about half the evening, till his manners gave a disgust which turned the tide of his popularity; for he was discovered to be proud; to be above his company, and above being pleased; and not all his large estate in Derbyshire could then save him from having a most forbidding, disagreeable countenance, and being unworthy to be compared with his friend” (Austen 7). Darcy’s pride has caused him to appear as though he was completely above everyone and has also caused others not to make an attempt to try and know his true nature. He does not make an attempt to try to correct his attitude as shown when he insults Elizabeth. When Mr. Bingley, his close friend, tries to convince him to dance with Elizabeth, Darcy says, “She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me; I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. You had better return to your partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me” (Austen 8). This insult leads to Elizabeth to immediately accept everyone else’s view of Darcy and in turn judge him as a rude, inconsiderate man. She was willing to forgive Darcy of his prideful nature as shown when she states, “I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine” (Austen 15). Elizabeth was going to look past Darcy’s pride, however, once he insulted her, she does not allow him a chance to clear up any misunderstandings. Due to her judgmental attitude, Elizabeth’s initial opinion of Darcy remains the same and only becomes worse as time progresses. While conversing with Wickham about Darcy, Elizabeth gives her opinion of him and says, “I think him very disagreeable… Upon my word I say no more here than I might say in any house in the neighborhood, except Netherfield. He is not at all liked in Hertfordshire. Everybody is disgusted with his pride. You will not find him more favourably spoken of by any one” (Austen 66). Elizabeth’s judgmental nature causes her to believe that she has a right to state her opinion of Darcy anywhere she pleases because she is certain that she is right about him. She shows that just based on two encounters of dealing with Darcy, she is quick to judge him without really being able to get to know him. With that being said, Darcy’s and Elizabeth’s natures are established early on in the novel and lead them to have a shaky start to their relationship. However, both characters’ walls begin to come crumbling down as time progresses.
Darcy and Elizabeth both begin to change their natures as time moves on. Darcy’s prideful attitude begins to dwindle away after Elizabeth rejects his marriage proposal. After being proposed to in an offensive manner by Darcy, Elizabeth tells him, “Mr. Darcy, if you suppose that the mode of your declaration affected me in any other way, than as it spared the concern which I might have felt in refusing you, had you behaved in a more gentlemanlike manner” (Austen 165). Elizabeth’s statement to Darcy makes him realize that his actions towards her or anyone have not been those of a proper gentleman. Her statement gives him a wake-up call and causes his walls to start to crumble, thus causing his prideful nature to dissipate. Elizabeth’s statement to Darcy clearly matters to him as shown when he writes her a letter to explain himself. In the beginning of his letter, Darcy says, “I write without any intention of paining you, or humbling myself, by dwelling on wishes which, for the happiness of both, cannot be too soon forgotten” (Austen 167). Darcy’s transition into becoming more humbled is apparent in his statement. He decides to express himself in a way that does not appear to Elizabeth as being self-centered and offensive to her which leads to them coming together. Darcy’s letter makes Elizabeth realize that Darcy is not as bad as a person as she originally thought. She makes an attempt to not to believe Darcy as shown when she exclaims and repeats, “This must be false! This cannot be! This must be the grossest falsehood” (Austen 174). Elizabeth is trying to convince herself that Darcy is lying in order to win her affection, however, after reading the letter once again, Elizabeth accepts the fact that she was wrong. Her walls she put up begin to crumble down as well and is shown when she says, “How despicably have I acted! I, who have prided myself on my discernment! … Pleased with the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other, on the very beginning of our acquaintance, I have courted prepossession and ignorance and driven reason away, where either were concerned. Till this moment, I never knew myself” (Austen 177). Elizabeth realizes that her judgmental nature has clouded her reasoning, just from her and Darcy’s first meeting. Her first impression of Darcy caused her to act rude and have prejudice against him which did not allow them to properly form a relationship with him. Her realization will eventually lead her to come together with Darcy and ultimately their happy ending. Clearly, Darcy’s and Elizabeth’s natures change over time and eventually allows them to reach their happily ever after.
After realizing their flaws, Darcy and Elizabeth change their ways and are thus able to come together and achieve a happy ending. Darcy’s humbleness is apparent when it is revealed he helped alleviate the situation between Lydia and Wickham. While talking to Elizabeth about what he did to help, Darcy says, “If you WILL thank me, let it be for yourself alone. That the wish of giving happiness to you might add force to the other inducements which led me on, I shall not attempt to deny. But your FAMILY owe me nothing. Much as I respect them, I believe I thought only of YOU” (Austen 331). Darcy has no intention of receiving a token of thanks from Elizabeth’s family. He helps them out of selflessness and with the thought of making Elizabeth happy. Darcy has completely discarded his prideful nature and is able to receive and give love to and from Elizabeth. Elizabeth’s change is also clear as shown through this conversation with Darcy. She no longer talks to him with a sharp tongue and is somewhat bashful in front of him. After Darcy reveals his reasoning to Elizabeth for helping, Austen describes Elizabeth’s actions: “Elizabeth was too much embarrassed to say a word…Elizabeth, feeling all the more than common awkwardness and anxiety of his situation, now forced herself to speak; and immediately, though not very fluently, gave him to understand that her sentiments had undergone so material a change, since the period to which he alluded, as to make her receive with gratitude and pleasure his present assurances” (Austen 331). No longer being blinded by her first impression, Elizabeth is no longer able to hide her feelings for Darcy and is able to fully accept his love and give him hers as well. However, it is not until both Darcy and Elizabeth are able to admit to each other their faults that finally brings them together. Darcy admits to Elizabeth that his actions to her and others were unbecoming of him. As he continues his conversation with Elizabeth he tells her, “…My conduct, my manners, my expressions… is now, and has been many months, inexpressibly painful to me. Your reproof, so well applied, I shall never forget: ‘had you behaved in a more gentlemanlike manner.’ Those were your words. You know not, you can scarcely conceive, how they have tortured me;—though it was some time, I confess, before I was reasonable enough to allow their justice” (Austen 314). Darcy reveals that Elizabeth’s words had greatly affected him and that she was right and her words caused him to change his prideful attitude. By admitting this to, Darcy lets Elizabeth know that he cares about her opinion of him which leads to Elizabeth fully realize his feelings for her. Elizabeth also admits her actions towards Darcy were rude due to her prejudice against him. When Darcy says he was attracted to her “liveliness”, Elizabeth corrects him and says, “You may as well call it impertinence at once; it was very little less. The fact is, that you were sick of civility, of deference, of officious attention. You were disgusted with the women who were always speaking, and looking, and thinking for your approbation alone. I roused and interested you because I was so unlike them. Had you not been really amiable, you would have hated me for it” (Austen 325). By admitting this to Darcy, Elizabeth reminds Darcy of the reason why he fell in love with her and is also able to let him see that she realizes her actions were wrong as well which ultimately brings them together in the end. In short, Darcy and Elizabeth change their prideful and judgmental ways which in turn allow them to be happy with each other.
Due to specific events, Darcy and Elizabeth are able to fix their flaws of being too prideful and too judgmental which in turn brings them together for their happy ending. At first, Darcy’s and Elizabeth’s relationship has a rough start due to Darcy’s arrogance and Elizabeth judging harshly based on their first encounter. According to Mary Lascelles in “The Mutual Misunderstanding of Elizabeth and Darcy” on Elizabeth’s dislike of Darcy, she states, “Her initial impulse towards this misunderstanding comes, of course, from Darcy himself, in that piece of flamboyant rudeness” (Lascelles). This reiterates Elizabeth’s initial disdain towards Darcy due to his utter rudeness and pride. As time progresses, however, Darcy’s and Elizabeth’s walls come crumbling down due to Elizabeth’s rejection and Darcy’s letter. These events cause them to realize the errors in their ways and lead them to change and come together. In the end, Darcy and Elizabeth are able to achieve their happy ending and better themselves. Change can help others become more self-aware of themselves and in turn bring forth profound results.
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