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Jane Austen’s Methods of Portraying the Character of Mr. Darcy in Pride And Prejudice

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Cold, unfriendly, unapproachable, aloof. If someone was to mention Mr. Darcy when I first began to read Pride and Prejudice, those are the words, which would have sprung to mind. It is also clear to see that Mrs. Bennet’s opinion of him was quite similar when she first met him at Netherfield ball. Mr. Bingley held the ball, one of Mr. Darcy’s dearest friends. Mrs. Bennet described him as being “ate up with pride”. Obviously, she was not very impressed! Mrs. Bennet is only able to “quite detest the man”. Other opinions of Mr. Darcy are also shared, Elizabeth’s sister, Jane, who sees the best in everyone suggested that maybe he is just naturally shy and reticent. Charlotte Lucas, one of Elizabeth’s closest friends, feels that in view of his wealth and background, he has much to be proud about. Elizabeth agrees with her friend, but says “I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine”. Elizabeth, obviously hurt by Mr. Darcy’s insensitive remark.

The episode at Netherfield, when Jane takes ill while there is particularly important, as it establishes the counteracting factors, which draw Elizabeth and Darcy together, and force them apart. Elizabeth has three encounters of conversation with Darcy, in which she is moved to provoke, tease and argue with him as intellectual equal. Suggesting that her dislike is simply unconscious attraction. Meanwhile Darcy is becoming clearly attracted by Elizabeth’s independent spirit and “fine eyes”. They seem to be flirting with each other.

When Elizabeth and Mr. Wickham first get acquainted. Elizabeth is immediately won over by Wickham’s easy, out-going manner and his charming conversation. Her inquisitiveness about the relationship between Darcy and Wickham is soon answered, when Wickham enquires about Darcy’s whereabouts, plans, and Elizabeth’s association with Darcy. Elizabeth willingly expresses her dislike of him; Wickham appears to take her into his confidence by giving an account of his past history. He makes himself out to be a real bighearted person, but it was a very different story. This does not make Elizabeth think any better of Darcy than before, in fact, it may have lowered her opinion of him even more.

Later in the novel, Elizabeth receives a letter from Darcy. The letter is long and explains the incident involving Wickham, along with other things that happened. Darcy accepts that Elizabeth could not have possibly guessed the truth. Wickham is a squanderer, who had given up claim on the church living he had been promised, preferring to accept from Darcy, three thousand pounds. When the money ran out, he returned to demand that Darcy present him with the living. When Darcy refused, Wickham showed nothing but bitterness. Worst of all, Wickham tried to seduce and elope with Darcy’s younger sister, who was only fifteen at the time. His motive could only have been revenge and the attraction of Miss Darcy’s thirty thousand pounds. Darcy then concludes the letter by telling Elizabeth that she can get confirmation of these details by going to Colonel Fitzwilliam.

I feel that this is the turning point in the novel. Its timing is important , coming straight after the proposal. It changes much of Elizabeth’s thinking about Darcy, but it’s too late for her to do anything about it. It clears up misunderstandings or misjudgments from the past, such as the truth about Wickham. It gives Darcy a voice of his own for a good stretch as we have mostly seen him through the eyes of others, or at any rate, with others.

In conclusion, I feel that Elizabeth and Darcy is an excellent match. They both misjudged each other, but came through all their problems and worked everything out. This is why I feel both are such a good match. Even though they have many differences, is it not true, that opposites attract?

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