Explain the negative reactions of one of the characters in Pride and Prejudice to the proposed marriage of Darcy and Elizabeth.

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Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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Lady Catherine de Bourgh has an extremely negative reaction to the idea of possible nuptials between her nephew and Miss Elizabeth Bennett.  She has multiple reasons for her lack of support for such a marriage:

  • Elizabeth's "arts and allurements:"
    Lady Catherine insists that Elizabeth somehow must have tricked Darcy into thinking he is in love with her. With her "arts and allurements," she has made Darcy forget what he owes to his family and society.
  • Elizabeth's low family connections are unworthy.  Lady Catherine is outraged that such an alliance might "pollute" the "shades of Pemberly" and insists that Elizabeth must denounce her claim to Mr. Darcy. 
  • Previously Arranged Betrothal?  Lady Catherine feels that Mr. Darcy must honor her wishes that he marry her daughter.  She admits this arrangement was a "peculiar kind" and really more of an informal wish of both mothers that their houses would one day be united.

Despite Lady Catherine's verbal attack, Elizabeth neither admits nor denies any such marriage proposal or engagement, but the conversation does give her reason to hope that Mr. Darcy might still have feelings for her.

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Pride and Prejudice

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