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Compare and Contrast the Two Proposals and Elizabeth's Reaction to Them

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Autor:   •  February 23, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,462 Words (6 Pages)  •  2,362 Views

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Q. Compare and contrast the two proposals and Elizabeth's reaction to them.

A. In Pride and Prejudice, the main female character - Elizabeth is shown to have extreme pride towards the main male character - Darcy. This is because in their first meeting Elizabeth's pride is wounded by Darcy as he says 'She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me, and I am in no humour to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men.' This thoughtless and proud comment causes Elizabeth to take an instant dislike to Darcy. It also clouds her judgement of Darcy's true nature.

After everyone has left for Rosings, Elizabeth is still fuming from the news that Darcy was the cause of Jane and Bingley's break up. Elizabeth is then startled by the arrival of Darcy. After a few minutes of silence, Darcy shocks Elizabeth with a sudden declaration of love for her and a proposal of marriage. In the beginning Elizabeth is flattered in spite of her deeply rooted prejudice against Darcy. Elizabeth's feelings soon turn to rage as Darcy catalogs all the reasons why he did not pursue his feelings earlier. These reasons include her inferior social class and her family obstacles.

As a retaliation Elizabeth stuns Darcy by refusing his proposal very harshly stating "I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry." This shows the extent of her prejudice against Darcy as she says that even from the beginning she disliked him. She condemns him for his arrogant manner in which he proposed his actions to separate Jane and Bingley and his actions of unfairness on Wickham. He accepts these accusations without apology, even with contempt. However, he flinches when she accuses him of not behaving like a gentleman and when Elizabeth finishes her denunciation of him, Darcy angrily departs.

Elizabeth's lively, straightforward, daring character and her disregard for considerations of rank show through clearly in her reaction to Darcy's proposal. Her pride is also evident, for the lack of civility in her refusal is due primarily to injured pride resulting from Darcy's frank explanation of his reservations about proposing to her because of her inferior connections.

Overwhelmed with emotion, Elizabeth cries for a half hour afterward and retreats to her room when everyone returns home. Elizabeth collapses and cries from weakness as a result of what has passed. She is flattered that he should have proposed to her, but any softness which she feels toward him because of his affection is quickly dissipated as soon as she thinks of his "abominable pride" and all that he has done to Jane and to Wickham.

This chapter is among the most important of the novel. They present the plot's climax--the turning point of the action of the novel--and the beginning of the end--the resolution of the plot. Here, Elizabeth experiences her great self-revelation about her prejudices as she realises later that Darcy was right about her family and Jane and Wickham, and Darcy receives a similar blow to his own expectations and perceptions of the world.

Austen has carefully structured the plot so that Darcy's proposal comes at the height of Elizabeth's anger toward him. Elizabeth's conversation with Colonel Fitzwilliam leaves her so upset and resentful of Darcy that she makes herself sick thinking about how he has harmed her sister. Her feelings are such that she cannot bear the thought of seeing him. At the same time, Darcy's feelings for Elizabeth have reached the point of compelling him to go to her and expose his heart, leading to his outburst, "In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you."

The proposal itself is filled with pride as Darcy refers to all the obstacles which he has had to overcome in order to make him take this step. Rather than emphasizing his love for Elizabeth, he focuses on the negatives of the situation and makes disparaging comments about her family. Meanwhile, the proposal completely stuns Elizabeth. She has been blind to Darcy's affections for her because she has been so prejudiced against him. Note that throughout the scene, Darcy accuses Elizabeth of pride, while Elizabeth accuses him of prejudice--an ironic reversal of the way readers has viewed each character. Elizabeth tells him that he was prejudiced against Wickham, against Jane, and against things that do not fit into his social world. In turn, he tells her that she would not be so adamant "had not your pride been hurt by my honest confession." This ironic reversal emphasizes that both Elizabeth and Darcy have been guilty of both pride and prejudice.

Collins proposal is an altogether totally different event. There are no harsh words, shouts or insults. Collins proposal is different because with him, Elizabeth has no real dislike for him as she does for Darcy. Even though his proposal is very business like and not of love, Elizabeth is shown to have strength in declining it very kindly. Mr. Collins proposes


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