Pride and Prejudice

Analyse the portrayal of the relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy in 'Pride and Prejudice'

Consider how Austen uses her characters to illustrate the social world she depicts and how they represent Austen's ideas on human nature and values.Evaluate her use of narrative strategies to present those characters.

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Pride and Prejudice primarily focuses on Elizabeth and the progression of her relationship with Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, a wealthy, proud man who snubs her after their introduction at a public dance. Her first impression of Darcy leads Elizabeth to form a negative opinion of him. This dislike is reinforced when she meets the handsome and attentive Mr. Wickham, a lieutenant in the nearby militia. Led on by Wickham's alluring personality, Elizabeth develops a regard for him that seems mutual. Wickham then leads the neighborhood to believe that he has been unfairly treated by Darcy. Elizabeth is persuaded that her prejudice against Darcy is well-founded upon the available evidence and what she considers her superior judgment of human character.

Elizabeth is thus surprised when Darcy declares his love for her and proposes. But while expressing his ardent love he reminds her of the large gap in their social status, remarking that Elizabeth could hardly expect him to "rejoice" in her "inferior connections". Offended by his pride, Elizabeth vehemently refuses him. She sharply details her main reasons for disliking him: his role in separating Jane and Mr. Bingley and his treatment of Mr. Wickham. On Darcy's complaint of her apparent bitterness, she replies that the arrogant way by which he proposed to her prevented her from feeling concern for him she "might have felt had you behaved in a more gentlemanlike manner".

Darcy departs in anger and mortification. He delivers a letter by hand to Elizabeth the following morning which tells her his motives behind separating Bingley and Jane, as well as the truth of Wickham's immoral behaviour towards Darcy's younger sister Georgiana. After much thought, Elizabeth recollects inconsistencies in Wickham's story and realizes he is not as honourable as he states. She begins to recognize her own prejudices and her errors in judgment, and begins to change her opinion of Darcy. Darcy, under the influence of Elizabeth's criticism, also sincerely re-evaluates his own actions and general behaviour towards others.

Several months later Elizabeth is invited by her aunt and uncle Gardiner to accompany them on a tour of Derbyshire. While there they visit Pemberley, Darcy's grand estate. Darcy returns home unexpectedly and runs into Elizabeth while she is walking on the grounds. She is mortified, but Darcy astonishes Elizabeth with his kindness and courtesy towards her and her relatives, whom he had previously considered socially inferior. Elizabeth is then introduced to Georgiana Darcy. Elizabeth observes that Georgiana's "proud" disposition is mere shyness and takes a liking to the younger woman.

After Darcy secretly intervenes in her familial crisis, Elizabeth realizes that she has fallen in love with him. He proposes for a second time and they are married in a double wedding with Jane and Bingley. The novel concludes with the hint that they lead the "happy marriage of the convention" at Pemberley with Georgiana.