Analyze the language used in the following passage from Pride and Prejudice that highlights the novel's tone regarding snobbery and class: "He spoke well, but there were feelings besides those of the heart to be detailed, and he was not more eloquent on the subject of tenderness than of pride. His sense of her inferiority—of its being a degradation—of the family obstacles which judgment had always opposed to inclination, were dwelt on with a warmth which seemed due to the consequence he was wounding, but was very unlikely to recommend his suit."

In this passage from Pride and Prejudice, the narrator describes the first time that Fitzwilliam Darcy confesses his love to Elizabeth Bennett. The class snobbery is referenced as the aristocratic Darcy’s "sense of her inferiority." Not only does he anticipate that his family will object, but he himself sees Elizabeth's middle-class status as "a degradation." He apparently expects Lizzie to appreciate his attitude as generous rather than insulting.

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Here the narrator describes the way Fitzwilliam Darcy speaks to Elizabeth Bennett the first time he admits to her that he admires and loves her. However, his romantic interest, or “feelings … of the heart,” is only one aspect of his speech. This confession represents a drastic change of attitude, as the two had usually disagreed and had not been on friendly terms. The dark tone of class snobbery in his confession of love is referenced as the “feelings besides those of the heart,” to which he admits. These include Darcy’s “sense of her inferiority.” His interest in her—which he soon reveals as a proposal of marriage—is called his “inclination.” Darcy freely admits that there will be “family obstacles” of “judgment” or prejudice.

Many aspects of his speech seem reasonable, although the narrator soon reveals Lizzie’s shock at hearing this declaration. The negativity of Darcy’s own position is emphasized in the statement indicating that he shares these biases: “Her inferiority … [is] a degradation.” As he continued to stress these subjects, Darcy realized that he was not advancing his cause: his “warmth … was very unlikely to recommend his suit” or persuade her to accept his proposal. He cannot get past his belief that Lizzie will share his views that her status, rather than his attitude, is the main obstacle to their match. This conviction allows him to speak longer than he should, despite having an underlying sense that he is hurting her feelings or “wounding” her.

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