Illustration of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy with neutral expressions on their faces

Pride and Prejudice

by Jane Austen

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At what moment does Elizabeth begin to fall in love with Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice?

In Pride and Prejudice, the exact moment at which Elizabeth begins to fall in love with Mr. Darcy is somewhat difficult to pinpoint, although it is evident that a definite change in her feelings towards him begins to take shape during Elizabeth's visit to Pemberly, where Darcy's housekeeper speaks fondly of him, and the estate itself delights Lizzy, as it is without an "artificial appearance," reflecting another aspect of Darcy's character.

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Elizabeth's falling in love with Mr. Darcy is a gradual process; it doesn't take place in a single moment. Over a period of time, Elizabeth starts to see the real Darcy, the Darcy beneath the aloof, arrogant exterior. And as she finds out more about his real personality, she becomes ever more drawn to him.

Even after Darcy comes right out and expresses his ardent admiration and love for Lizzy, she doesn't fall in love with him, at least not straight away. That said, she's certainly flattered by his attention, and Darcy's words give her much food for thought. At this stage in the novel, Lizzy's already more sympathetic to Darcy after hearing about the dishonorable behavior of Mr. Wickham towards Darcy's sister. But Darcy hasn't quite sealed the deal, no matter how much Lizzy's initially unfavorable opinion of him may have changed.

After visiting Pemberley, Lizzy becomes even more drawn to Darcy. The simple elegance of this stately pile impresses her, not least because it appears to be an outward manifestation of Darcy's soul. Lizzy had feared that Darcy was the male version of Caroline Bingley, but on seeing Pemberley she realizes to her relief that he's really not like that at all. Lizzy may not yet have fallen for Darcy just yet, but another stage on love's long and winding road has just been reached.

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Initially, Mr. Darcy does nothing to endear himself to Elizabeth, refusing to dance with her and declaring that there's no one at the ball worth looking at twice. At that moment, it seemed utterly implausible that she would one day become his wife. On the other hand, however, I would argue that there was an initial attraction, which was why Elizabeth felt so strongly about his rejection. Remember, love and hatred are closely allied emotions, and the opposite of love is not hatred but indifference.

Going forward, it appears that her opinion of him changes gradually and that there were a few moments that played a part in this transformation. In Lizzy's own words, she was never able to pinpoint the exact moment when her feelings began to change.

I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.

For starters, we have to consider the moment when we realize that it was thanks to Mr. Darcy's actions that Wickham married Lydia, thereby avoiding shame for the Bennet family.

Elizabeth's visit to Pemberley was undoubtedly a seminal moment. It is during her conversation with the Pemberley housekeeper, who has known Darcy all her life, that Lizzy truly lets go of her preconceived ideas about Darcy's character. Darcy's case is further aided by the fact that he arrives at Pemberley shortly after this conversation, displaying all the gentleness and gentlemanly behavior that the housekeeper had been mentioning to Lizzy.

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In Pride and Prejudice , Elizabeth's love for Darcy...

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begins to develop when she visits Pemberley inChapter 43. Remember that by this point in the novel, Elizabeth knows that Mr. Wickham's stories about Darcy are all false and, as such, she is ready to change her perception of him accordingly. This process begins when Elizabeth meets with the housekeeper of Pemberley and learns about Darcy's true, and very gentle, nature:

"If I was to go through the world, I could not meet with a better. But I have always observed that they who are good-natured when children are good-natured when they grow up; and he was always the sweetest-tempered, most generous-hearted, boy in the world.''

When Darcy unexpectedly returns to the house, this process is continued. Darcy speaks and behaves just as his housekeeper has described him, which comes as some shock to Elizabeth:

"Never in her life had she seen his manners so little dignified, never had he spoken with such gentleness as on this unexpected meeting. "

This change in his manner prompts Elizabeth to realize that she may have misjudged him in the past. This sets the scene for their future, more positive, encounters and, more importantly, begins to warm Elizabeth's heart towards him.

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I would say there isn't a single moment.  Elizabeth's love for Darcy sneaks up on her as her opinion of him changes.  There are many events that gradually change her opinion.  First, Darcy's letter begins to make her wonder if she has misjudged him.  Her visit to his house changes her opinion more - first from hearing how kind and humble he is from the servant, and then in seeing him when he shows up unexpectedly.  Eventually, Elizabeth discovers that Darcy is the one who paid all of Wickham's debts and caused him to marry Lydia.  All of these things reshape Elizabeth's knowledge of Darcy's character and cause her to gradually fall in love with him.

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