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How do Darcy's first and second marriage proposals to Elizabeth compare in language...

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michelle3520 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 14, 2009 at 9:23 AM via web

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How do Darcy's first and second marriage proposals to Elizabeth compare in language and results?

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lit24 | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted October 14, 2009 at 10:36 PM (Answer #1)

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Darcy first proposes to Elizabeth in Ch.34. She is alone in Collins' house as Charlotte  and Collins have gone over to Lady Catherine's house for tea. Elizabeth is suffering from a head ache which was a consequence of her being upset and crying after she had learnt from Col. Fitzwilliam Darcy that Darcy was responsible for separating  Bingley from Jane:

"he [Darcy] congratulated himself of having lately saved a friend [Bingley] from the inconveniences of a most imprudent marriage." (Ch.33)

Just then Darcy arrives  and Elizabeth is indifferent to his preliminary queries about her health. Then all of a sudden he blurts out his marriage proposal to her saying  "you must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you." Elizabeth is "astonished," and for a few moments speechless, and then composes herself and rejects him.

Darcy is in turn is shocked and surprised and "his complexion became pale with anger and the disturbance of his mind was visible in every feature," and after he had composed himself with great difficulty he asks why she has rejected him. Elizabeth gives three reasons why she rejects him  and concludes that Darcy would be "the last man in the world whom [she] could ever be prevailed  on to marry."

Darcy's second proposal takes place at Longbourn in Ch. 58. He proposes to her when both of them go out for a walk. This time, the scene begins on a very happy note as Bingley and Elizabeth have already been united in Ch.55 and more significantly, Elizabeth thanks Darcy for all that he has done to make Wickham marry Lydia and thus saving the Bennet family honour. Darcy replies that he did this only for her sake:

"I thought only of you."

Elizabeth is "embarrassed" and Darcy asks whether her feelings towards him have undergone any change since he first proposed and was rejected by her. Elizabeth admits "that her sentiments had undergone so material a change," and at once Darcy proposes to her "as sensibly and as warmly as a man violently in love can be supposed to do" and is accepted by her.

On the first occasion Darcy is still proud and haughty and he is certain that Elizabeth will accept him, because after all he is wealthy and rich:"he had no doubt of a favorable answer." He is complacent and takes Elizabeth for granted. To make matters worse, he confesses to her that he has fallen in love with her much against his own wishes: "in vain have I struggled." Elizabeth of course is strongly prejudiced against him and hates him and rationalizes her prejudices and dislike for him by giving him three reasons for her rejection. This in turn leads him to reply to her accusations in his long letter in Ch.35. On reading this letter and after patiently analyzing its contents Elizabeth remarks:

"Till this moment I never knew myself."

From then onwards both the characters undergo a complete change. However it looks as though Lydia's elopement might permanently separate them.  Ironically, Elizabeth imagines that Lydia's elopement will mark the end of Darcy's love for her not realizing that it is this same unsavory incident which will actually unite them:

"and never had she so honestly felt that she could have loved him, as now, when all love must be in vain." Ch.56.

The language of both the characters in Ch.34 when Elizabeth rejects Darcy is harsh, aggressive and hostile: "so immoveable a dislike,"  "and pale with anger." On the contrary the language in Ch.58 is gentle, polite and affectionate: "the expression of heart-felt delight diffused over his face."  This is because in Ch.34 Elizabeth was "astonished" at his temerity in proposing to her whereas in Ch. 58 she is "embarrassed" at his excessive love and affection for her.

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lavy | Student , Grade 11 | eNoter

Posted December 23, 2010 at 9:46 PM (Answer #2)

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Although Darcy’s explanation is not quite romantic, it does show how much in love he is with Elizabeth, since he is will to overlook her family’s inadequacies, which he regarded so highly previously. Austen also makes us especially sympathetic towards Mr Darcy as he loves
Elizabeth and she refuses him, however on the contrary we don’t feel remotely sorry for Collins since he isn’t in love with her at all.

However, in his second proposal, Darcy humbly restates his love for Elizabeth. This time, the scene begins on a very happy note as Bingley and Jane have already been united and more significantly, Elizabeth thanks Darcy for all that he has done to make Wickham marry Lydia and therefore saving the Bennet family honour. On the first occasion Darcy is still proud and haughty and he is certain that Elizabeth will accept him, because after all he is wealthy and rich:"he had no doubt of a favourable answer." He is complacent and takes Elizabeth for granted. To make matters worse, he confesses to her that he has fallen in love with her against his own wishes. This is shown when he says "in vain have I struggled." Elizabeth of course is strongly prejudiced against him and hates him and rationalizes her prejudices and dislike for him by giving him three reasons for her rejection. However, from then onwards both the characters undergo a complete change.

The language of both the characters when Elizabeth rejects Darcy is harsh, aggressive and hostile: "so immoveable a dislike,", “and pale with anger." On the contrary the language in Darcy’s second proposal is gentle, polite and affectionate: "the expression of heart-felt delight diffused over his face."  This is because the first time Elizabeth was "astonished" at his temerity in proposing to her whereas the second time, she is "embarrassed" at his excessive love and affection for her.

With great irony and wit, Austen shows how the tenderest human feelings interact with and are influenced by financial considerations. In her time, marriage was seen as a type of financial security. The joining of Elizabeth and Darcy shows how Austen was in favour of marrying for love and nothing else, regardless of wealth or social background.

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