Darcy's Romance in the Backbone of Pride and Prejudice: Part II
I can see ten stages by which Darcy falls in love with Elizabeth. There is not even a hint anywhere in the dialogue of the infatuation which we usually find in a romance. References in brackets refer to the quotations below.
- Initial disdain (1).
- Attraction to EB's intelligent face and playfulness (2.1 to 2.3).
- Verbal sparring convinces FD that EB is intelligent (3.1 to 3.4), although the reader has already been told this.
- FD realises he is in danger of falling in love (4.1 to 4.3).
- FD tries to keep cool (5.1) but feels vexed by EB's interest in George Wickham (5.2).
- FD feels unsettled (6.1) and has a false image of EB (6.2).
- FD needs EB's company but finds it difficult to talk (7.1 to 7.3). In the last of these quotations, there is a hint of FD
being jealous of Colonel Fitzwilliam. Is this what drives him to propose?
- FD proposes for the first time (8.1) and is rejected to his chagrin (8.2). (I can't quote all of Vol II Ch 11 (Ch 34)).
- FD needs to retrieve the situation and writes to EB (9). (Nor, Vol II Ch 12 (Ch 35)).
- Pemberley. FD re-cognises EB, admitting her to his inner circle (10.1 to 10.3). (Please re-read Vol III Ch 1 (Ch43)). The reader is told via Mr and Mrs Gardiner that FD and EB are in love (10.4).
- Quotation 1, Vol I Ch 3 p12, at the assembly at Meryton.
- "...till catching her [Elizabeth's] eye, he withdrew his own and coldly said, 'She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and 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.'"
- Quotation 2.1 Vol I Ch 6 p23, several aspects of EB attract FD.
- "But no sooner had he made it clear to himself and his friends that she had hardly a good feature in her face than he began to find it was rendered uncommonly intelligent by the beautiful expression in her dark eyes....her figure...light and pleasing ...her manners...he was caught by their cheerful playfulness."
- Quotation 2.2 Vol I Ch 6 p24.
- "He began to wish to know more of her, and as a step towards conversing with her himself, attended to her conversation with others."
- Quotation 2.3 Vol I Ch 6 p27, FD to Caroline Bingley.
- "I have been meditating on the very great pleasure which a pair of fine eyes in the face of a pretty woman can bestow."
- Quotation 3.1 Vol I Ch 8 pp39-40 FD and EB at Netherfield.
- "'All this she must possess,' added Darcy, 'and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.'
"'I am no longer surprised at your knowing only six accomplished women. I rather wonder at your knowing any.'
"'Are you so severe upon your own sex, as to doubt the possibility of all this?'
"'I never saw such a woman. I never saw such capacity, and taste, and application, and elegance, as you describe, united.'"
- Quotation 3.2 Vol I Ch 9 pp42-43 FD and EB at Netherfield.
- "'The country can in general supply but few subjects for such a study [of character]. In a country neighbourhood you move in a very confined and unvarying society.'
"'But people themselves alter so much, that there is something new to be observed in them forever.'"
- Quotation 3.3 Vol I Ch 9 pp44-45 EB and FD at Netherfield.
- "'....I wonder who first discovered the efficacy of poetry in driving away love!'
"'I have been used to consider poetry as the food of love,' said Darcy.
"'of a fine, stout, healthy love it may. Every thing nourishes what is strong already. But if it be only a slight, thin sort of inclination, I am convinced that one good sonnet will starve it entirely away.'
"Darcy only smiled...."
- Quotation 3.4 Vol I Ch 10 pp50-51 FD and EB at Netherfield.
- "'You expect me to account for opinions which you chuse to call mine, but which I have never acknowledged. Allowing the case, however, to stand according to your representation, you must remember, Miss Bennet, that the friend who is supposed to desire his return to the house, and the delay of his plan, has merely desired it, asked it without offering one argument in favour of its propriety.'
"'To yield readily--easily--to the persuasion of a friend is no merit with you.'
"'To yield without conviction is no compliment to the understanding of either.'
"'You appear to me, Mr. Darcy, to allow nothing for the influence of friendship and affection....'" [and so on.]
- Quotation 4.1 Vol I Ch 10 p52 after some more sparring, this time about dancing.
- "Elizabeth, having rather expected to affront him, was amazed at his gallantry; but there was a mixture of sweetness and archness in her manner which made it difficult for her to affront anybody; and Darcy had never been so bewitched by any woman as he was by her. [my emphasis] He really believed, that were it not for the inferiority of her connections, he should be in some danger."
- Quotation 4.2 Vol I Ch 11 p57 EB and FD at Netherfield where the interest lies more in EB's perceptions and image of
FD than vice versa.
- "'Mr. Darcy is not to be laughed at!' cried Elizabeth. 'That is an uncommon advantage, and uncommon I hope it will continue, for it would be a great loss to me to have many such acquaintance. I dearly love a laugh.'
"'Miss Bingley,' said he, 'has given me credit for more than can be. The wisest and best of men, nay, the wisest and best of their actions may be rendered ridiculous by a person whose first object in life is a joke.'
"'Certainly,' replied Elizabeth--'there are such people, but I hope I am not one of them. I hope I never ridicule what is wise or good. Follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies do divert me, I own and I laugh at them whenever I can.--But these, I suppose, are precisely what you are without.'
"'Perhaps that is not possible for any one. But it has been the study of my life to avoid those weaknesses which often expose a strong understanding to ridicule.'
"'Such as vanity and pride.'
"'Yes, vanity is a weakness indeed. But pride--where there is a real superiority of mind, pride will always be under good regulation.'
"Elizabeth turned away to hide a smile." [and so on, down to next Quotation.]
- Quotation 4.3 Vol I Ch 11 p58
- "...and Darcy, after a few moments recollection, was not sorry for it. He began to feel the danger of paying Elizabeth too much attention."
- Quotation 4.4 Vol I Ch 12 pp59-60 after Jane is pronounced well enough to travel.
- "To Mr. Darcy it was welcome intelligence--Elizabeth had been at Netherfield long enough. She attracted him more than he liked-- and Miss Bingley was uncivil to her, and more teazing than usual to himself. He wisely resolved to be particularly careful that no sign of admiration should now escape him, nothing that could elevate her with the hope of influencing his felicity; sensible that if such an idea had been suggested, his behaviour during the last day must have material weight in confirming or crushing it. Steady to his purpose, he scarcely spoke ten words to her through the whole of Saturday, and though they were at one time left by themselves for half an hour, he adhered most conscientiously to his book, and would not even look at her."
- Quotation 5.1 Vol I Ch 18 p91 at Netherfield ball, FD is generous in saying that EB's character sketch of them both as
having an "unsocial, taciturn disposition" does not apply to herself.
- Quotation 5.2 Vol I Ch 18 p94 at Netherfield ball, more sparring, tinctured with FD's annoyance about EB's mentioning
- "...they...parted in silence; on each side dissatisfied, though not in an equal degree, for in Darcy's breast there was a tolerable powerful feeling towards her, which soon procured her pardon, and directed his anger against another."
- Quotation 6.1 Vol II Ch 7 (Ch 30) p171 at Hunsford Parsonage.
- "Mr. Darcy...met her with every appearance of composure."
- Quotation 6.2 Vol II Ch 8 (Ch 31) p174 FD has a false picture of EB.
- "'I shall not say you are mistaken,' he replied, 'because you could not really believe me to entertain any design of alarming you; and I have had the pleasure of your acquaintance long enough to know, that you find great enjoyment in occasionally professing opinions which in fact are not your own.'"
- Quotation 7.1 Vol II Ch 9 (Ch 32) p177 FD can't bring himself to talk to EB.
- "They then sat down, and when her enquiries after Rosings were made, seemed in danger of sinking into absolute silence." [EB then talks about the suddeness of the Netherfield party leaving Netherfield.]
- Quotation 7.2 Vol II Ch 9 (Ch 32) p180 FD puzzles Mrs Charlotte Collins. Love?
- "But why Mr. Darcy came so often to the Parsonage, it was more difficult to understand. It could not be for society, as he frequently sat there ten minutes together without opening his lips; and when he did speak, it seemed the effect of necessity rather than of choice--a sacrifice to propriety, not a pleasure to himself. He seldom appeared really animated. Mrs. Collins knew not what to make of him. Colonel Fitzwilliam's occasionally laughing at his stupidity, proved that he was generally different, which her own knowledge of him could not have told her; and as she would have liked to believe this change the effect of love, and the object of that love, her friend Eliza, she sat herself seriously to work to find it out.--She watched him whenever they were at Rosings, and whenever he came to Hunsford; but without much success. He certainly looked at her friend a great deal, but the expression of that look was disputable. It was an earnest, steadfast gaze, but she often doubted whether there were much admiration in it, and sometimes it seemed nothing but absence of mind."
- Quotation 7.3 Vol II Ch 10 (Ch 33) p182, after EB finds that FD is seeking out her company on walks near Hunsford Parsonage.
- "He never said a great deal, nor did she give herself the trouble of talking or listening much; but it struck her in the course of their third rencontre that he was asking some odd unconnected questions--...he seemed to expect that whenever she came into Kent again she would be staying there too. [At Rosings] His words seemed to imply it. Could he have Colonel Fitzwilliam in his thoughts? She supposed, if he meant anything, he must mean an allusion to what might arise in that quarter."
- Quotation 8.1 Vol II Ch 11 (Ch 34) p189
- "'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.'....He concluded with representing to her the strength of that attachment which, in spite of all his endeavours, he had found it impossible to conquer; and with expressing his hope that it would now be rewarded by her acceptance of his hand."
Darcy has to be rejected as his false image of Elizabeth does not include her pride. He has trampled on her self-regard.
- Quotation 8.2 Vol II Ch 11 (Ch 34) p192
- "'But perhaps,' added he, stopping in his walk, and turning towards her, 'these offences might have been overlooked, had not your pride been hurt by my honest confession of the scruples that had long prevented my forming any serious design.'"
Darcy is bitter about Elizabeth's pride, so he has a long way to go in forming a true picture of her.
- Quotation 9 Vol II Ch 12 (Ch 35) p196, FD's letter to EB.
- "'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; and the effort which the formation, and the perusal of this letter must occasion, should have been spared, had not my character required it to be written and read.'"
FD wants EB to build a true picture of him and I read that as FD becoming dimly aware that their perceptions of each
other are ill-founded.
- Quotation 10.1 Vol III Ch 1 (Ch 43) p251, EB first encounters FD at Pemberley.
- "Their eyes instantly met, and the cheeks of each were overspread with the deepest blush. He absolutely started, and for a moment seemed immoveable from surprise; but shortly recovering himself advanced towards the party, and spoke to Elizabeth, if not in terms of perfect composure, at least of perfect civility."
- Quotation 10.2 Vol III Ch 1 (Ch 43) p256, perhaps an hour after quotation 10.1; FD left then later rejoined the party
strolling through Pemberley's grounds.
- "'---Will you allow me, or do I ask too much, to introduce my sister to your acquaintance during your stay at Lambton?"
At this point, Darcy wants to bring Elizabeth into his inner circle.
- Quotation 10.3 Vol III Ch 1 (Ch 43) p259.
- "...and she could do nothing but think, and think with wonder, of Mr. Darcy's civility, and above all, of his wishing her to be acquainted with his sister."
- Quotation 10.4 Vol III Ch 2 (Ch 44) p264.
- "...and it was evident [to the Gardiners] that he was very much in love with her."
Back to Part I Continue with Part Three
Geoff K. Chapman is an amateur literary and history enthusiast living with his wife and two sons in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. With his wife he has visited the Jane Austen Centre in 40 Gay Street, Bath, and has no hesitation whatever in heartily recommending it.
Illustrations: C.E. Brock, 1895