A comparison of the two proposals of marriage that Mr. Darcy makes to Lizzy Bennet within the novel pride and prejudice
Jane Austin, the author of pride and prejudice, was born in Hampshire in 1775. Her father was a clergy man and she was very close to her sister, Cassandra. Jane was very intelligent and attended many schools including oxford and reading, however was taught by her father since age nine.
Jane realised that she loved to write as a teenager. She used to write for her family and for her own pleasure. However, she would hide her work when anyone outside her family would try to read it.
In the 1700’s marriage was viewed very differently to how it is now. Back then a women used to marry for security and money, where as people nowadays normally marry for love. But, as demonstrated in the novel, this isn’t always the way. Lizzy Bennet didn’t want to marry for material possessions; she wanted to marry for love and happiness.
The opening line of the novel “it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of good fortune must be in want of a wife,” is a very ironic opening, as this statement is proved to be untrue in the novel. This is demonstrated by both Mr. Darcy and Mr. Wickham. The statement also suggest that marriage is the mans choice, and that he can simply pick any woman he wants. This is not the case for Lizzy Bennet. She turns down many men, persistent she will only marry for love.
I have been asked to compare both of Mr. Darcy’s proposals, and identify the differences between the two.
The first proposal takes place in the living room, within Mr. Collins house. The room is very small and the claustrophobic atmosphere could create tension, making the two of them more uncomfortable. This could impact on the proposal by making the two of them more tetchy.
Before Darcy had arrived Lizzy was already very angry at Darcy as she had just read a letter from Jane. Although Jane didn’t complain the letter lacked her usual cheerfulness, clearly showing she was still upset over Mr. Bingley. Lizzy had recently heard from Colonel Fitzwilliam that Darcy had been boasting of how she was not worthy of him, meaning Darcy was the cause of her sisters misery.
So when Darcy showed up at her door, she was amazed and shocked. She was also very disappointed as when the doorbell rang she had hoped it was Colonel Fitzwilliam. He had once called at this time before and she was hoping that he would be enquiring about her in particular.
Darcy’s hurried manner suggests that he was nervous, yet father excited, possibly because he had something important to say. Although he tried to sit still, he couldn’t, and ended up walking around the room, making Lizzy intrigued. However this kind of behaviour can be daunting. “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”
Darcy starts the proposal by telling Lizzy that he has tried not to love her and that he tried to hide his feeling for her showing that he doesn’t want to love her and has fought himself not too, however, the struggle has become too much, and he has given in and lost the battle. This is not a good way to start a proposal as it is rather offensive. Why should he want to do everything he can to repress his feelings? Is she really that repulsive? He should have started by complimenting her, telling her why he loves her.
This leaves Lizzy astonished, unable to put the pieces together. She presumed he didn’t like her in an way, from the way he had acted towards her, but now he had just confessed that he loves her. She blushed and thought in complete silence for a while, doubting his sincerity, unsure if he was being honest, not knowing what to think or believe.
Jane Austen goes on to narrate the rest of Darcy’s proposal very effectively. She does it in such a way she is mocking Darcy. When she says “He spoke well, but there were feelings beside those of the heart to be detailed” she’s laughing at his arrogance.
At first Lizzy feels sympathy for Darcy, for the pain he was about to receive, but when she thought about the way she acted, she could only feel anger! He expected her to say yes, making Lizzy even more determined to show her true colours and say no. she tried to compose herself, but finally responded with brutal honesty. She is very harsh and maybe goes too far but tells Darcy that she does not care for his “good opinion”.
Darcy is very shocked at Lizzy’s cold outburst, and tries to control himself, but instead become more and more angry. He become very pale and shows his frustration in every part of his body. However he lets his pompous side win and talks in a voice of force calmness. He tries to claim that he is not bothered by her rejection, but she just throws more accusations and insults his way.
Lizzy goes on to accuse Darcy of Jane’s unhappiness. “Who has been the means of ruining, perhaps forever, the happiness of a most beloved sister.” She is letting him know she has been informed of what he has done. She challenges him, to see if he will deny these accusations.
To her surprise he decides not to hide what he has done, instead is still proud of his doings. By saying “I have no wish of denying that” he is making things worse for himself, as it is the worst possible things to say.
This only makes Lizzy angrier and she begins to bring Wickham into the argument and uses what she knows against him. She claims to know more about Darcy and his character than he actually thinks she does as she, like many others, she has been mislead by Wickham’s mask. This only makes Darcy angrier however he comes over sarcastic and cocky, for he knows the truth behind Wickham’s mask, and is confident this is not the something she can use against him.
He goes on to accuse Lizzy of being proud. He accuses her of being upset that he has hurt her pride, that she is only creating arguments against him because she is desperate. However he is only doing this because he doesn’t know how to treat her.
The proposal takes another turn for the worse when Darcy starts insulting her family – again! He says Lizzy and her family are beneath him, only building more tension, leading to a disastrous ending.
Lizzy finally loses control! She begins to accuse Darcy of being un-gentlemanly, which to him was a very big insult, and she sees him start at this. She goes on to say “You could not have made me the offer of your hand in any possible way that would have tempted me to accept it,” telling Darcy, no matter what she would never marry Darcy! She also tells him, even if he were the last man on earth she could not marry him, and that she has felt this way after only one month of knowing him.
This leaves Darcy speechless and he tells her he has nothing left to say. After he has left Lizzy regrets losing her temper but is content that she has done the right thing.
The second proposal takes place outside, after Bingley had suggested everyone should go for a walk. The fresh air would have allowed both Darcy and Lizzy to clear their heads and think more clearly, creating a better atmosphere for the proposal. Also being out in the open meant they wouldn’t feel claustrophobic or tense.
Lizzy feels very differently about Darcy, now she has been exposed to his true character. Since the first proposal Darcy had helped his sister by paying Wickham a large sum of money to marry her, meaning the family name would be cleared. “He was the person to whom the whole family were indebted” She now respects him, and feels strongly for him; however she doesn’t think she loves him.
When they are left alone Lizzy builds up the courage to start the conversation. She begins by expressing her gratitude for all that he has done. She also apologises for being selfish, and not caring for his feelings. When Darcy hears this he is rather surprised as he wanted to keep what he’d done a secret. This was because he didn’t want Lizzy to think that he was buying her emotions.
The two of them are walking on egg shells to begin with, making sure they are being kind and polite towards the other as possible. But things are becoming easier between the two, compared to the first proposal, where all they wanted to do was insult the other as much as possible.
Darcy starts his proposal by telling Lizzy that he respects her family. He goes on to tell her that he only sorted things out with Wickham to be with her. By saying this and being romantic, he is winning over Lizzy’s emotions making her heart flutter meaning she is more likely to say yes. Unlike in the first proposal he asked her how she feels and doesn’t presume she is going to say yes. He acts more gentlemanly, giving Lizzy no reason to be nasty towards him, only making her speechless and embarrassed. Also, this time instead of telling her why he shouldn’t marry her, he concentrates on why he should.
Jane Austen narrates Lizzy reply rather than what she says, so the reader can feel the mood at this point. Lizzy is also finding it difficult to talk as she is so happy and of course, says yes.
When Jane goes on to describe how Darcy reacts to Lizzy saying yes, she is very cruel and mocks him again. “He expressed himself on the occasion as sensibly and as warmly as a man violently in love.” It is also very ironic how his feelings have changed over the novel. How he had gone from thinking that she was not handsome enough for him, to deeply in love with her. “We can see the change of heartfelt delight diffused over his face, became him.”
Lady Catherine de Bourgh was the inspiration for Darcy’s second proposal, however unintentional that was. She went to Lizzy to find out how she felt about Darcy, to try and protect her own family. When Darcy heard from Lady Catherine that she wouldn’t refuse his proposal, he knew he had a much better chance with her. So the two of them were in debt to her ladyship for meddling, even though she had the opposite effect she wanted.
Both Lizzy and Darcy’s language has changed dramatically since the first proposal. Darcy is now being more romantic, and flattering Lizzy. He says things like “I thought only of you” showing his sincerity and that he truly does love and care for her. His choice of language also shows he has changed since the first proposal. He is no longer as pompous and proud, and has learnt from his mistakes.
Towards the end of the proposal Lizzy teases Darcy. This shows she is comfortable, and she is comfortable, and confident enough to take the micky out of him. It also shows that their relationship is strong, something you could have never imagined from the first proposal.
Lizzy has taught Darcy not to be so proud and pompous. It was a hard change for Darcy as he had been brought up that way. He tried desperately, to prove to her he could change and impress her. She has also taught him how to treat women and that he doesn’t have to please a woman worthy of being pleased. He now knows Lizzy is worthy of him, and regrets trying to hide his feelings for her. These were both important lessons he needed to learn.
Darcy has also taught Lizzy that she judges people too quickly. When she met him she thought he was a pompous, and that if he was the last man on earth she wouldn’t marry him. But now she is accepting his proposal. She has also been shown first impressions don’t count. Not only did she misjudge Darcy, she misjudged Wickham too.
Both Lizzy and Darcy have changed because of what the other said in the first proposal. They have been shown the errors of their ways and now, done what they can to put things right.
The title of the novel “Pride and Prejudice” fits in nicely with the two characters and their experiences. Pride refers to Darcy and his arrogance, how she is too quick at judging people. It could also be showing them as a couple, as in Pride and Prejudice together, make an item.
Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is a timeless classic. It was a best seller when it was first published in the 1700’s and still is today, 300 years later. It isn’t just the classic love story; however it makes everyone’s heart jump a beat! Many other novels by Jane Austen have become well loved, even today.
Many of Jane’s books have also been made in films, with big stars like Kiera Knightly and Colin Firth. The books have also been adapted by other Jane Austen is a brilliant novelist, with many classics, that I’m sure will be beloved for many years from now.
Get access to
Guarantee No Hidden