How would Elizabeth Bennet judge her potential suitors for future husband?

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The character of Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen receives one marriage proposal from Mr. Collins, the inheritor of her estate as a consequence of the laws of her time. After this proposal she meets Mr. Wickham who, in the eyes of some, may be a suitable character for her. Then she gets another proposal from Mr. Darcy who is, in not so many words, one of the worse proposals ever to be endured by a woman.

The positive side of Elizabeth character is that she is not blinded by the need for women to be married. Therefore, when Mr. Collins proposes first, we are told with much clarity that Elizabeth has no intention to even entertain the idea. In Chapter 19 we see how, even with the prospect of keeping the family home if she is married to him, she would NOT even consider it

To such perseverance in wilful self-deception, Elizabeth would make no reply, and immediately and in silence withdrew; determined, that if he persisted in considering her repeated refusals as flattering encouragement, to apply to her father, whose negative might be uttered in such a manner as must be decisive, and whose behaviour at least could not be mistaken for the affectation and coquetry of an elegant female.

Elizabeth knows that Mr. Collins is not only unattractive physically, but he is also a bad listener and a compulsive talker who worships his patroness Lady Catherine DeBourgh. That is how she sees him and that is why she would never consider anything positive about him.

Mr. Wickham, Elizabeth's second potential suitor, fooled Elizabeth from the beginnining with a fake amiable attitude, a fake look of concern for her, and an even bigger fake story of himself. However, his looks as a man in uniform with a sweet disposition and with a "sad story" took over her promptly.

Mr. Wickham was the happy man towards whom almost every female eye was turned, and Elizabeth was the happy woman by whom he finally seated himself.

Yet, after Wickham was bad enough to elope with Elizabeth's younger sister, Lydia, which happens right after Darcy tells Elizabeth the real Wickham's nature. This is when Elizabeth is completely turned off and even resents Wickham for the lies he tells everyone.

Finally, Mr.Darcy first brushes off terribly against Elizabeth. His pride and demeanor suggests to her that he is a snob and this is the primary reason why she detests him.

But his pride, his abominable pride — his shameless avowal of what he had done with respect to Jane — his unpardonable assurance in acknowledging, though he could not justify it, and the unfeeling manner in which he had mentioned Mr. Wickham, his cruelty towards whom he had not attempted to deny, soon overcame the pity which the consideration of his attachment had for a moment excited.

It is when Elizabeth finds out that Darcy is actually a kind man when she changes her impression of him. It is the warmth that she seeks, and she finds it in Darcy before it is too late. That, aside from his enormous estate of Pemberly, makes for more than enough motivation to be married to him.


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