In Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, how does Elizabeth's visit to Pemberly House help break down her pride and her prejudice?
In Jane Austen's novel, Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth's pride and prejudice are broken down when she visits Pemberly House, owned by Mr. Darcy.
As she and her uncle and aunt travel in their carriage, Elizabeth is enthralled by the beauties of nature around them on the grounds of the estate. Here she believes she has seen some of the most stunning countryside she has ever encountered. Darcy's home also provides other visions of nature through windows within his home, that is handsomely but conservatively decorated. Elizabeth is of a mind that she might have been the mistress of such a lovely place—that she immediately falls in love with because of its extraordinary beauty—had things gone better between her and Mr. Darcy.
Other things take place to make Elizabeth rethink her impressions of Mr. Darcy. Mrs. Reynolds, the housekeeper, can do little but praise Darcy, and this is a woman who has known him for many years.
'If your master would marry, you might see more of him.'
'Yes, Sir; but I do not know when that will be. I do not know who is good enough for him.'
Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner smiled. Elizabeth could not help saying, 'It is very much to his credit, I am sure, that you should think so.'
'I say no more than the truth, and what every body will say that knows him,' replied the other. Elizabeth thought this was going pretty far; and she listened with increasing astonishment as the housekeeper added, 'I have never had a cross word from him in my life, and I have known him ever since he was four years old.'
The things that Elizabeth hears are so different than the knowledge her experiences with Darcy have conveyed to her. Here is a man she really does not know. They find that he is devoted to his sister and does whatever he can to bring her pleasure.
'[Miss Darcy is] the handsomest young lady that ever was seen; and so accomplished! — She plays and sings all day long. In the next room is a new instrument just come down for her — a present from my master; she comes here to-morrow with him.'
Eventually, Elizabeth and her aunt and uncle take a tour of the grounds. Everything is lovely. Suddenly, to Elizabeth's embarrassment, Mr. Darcy appears, though she had been assured he would not return until the following day. Based upon their previous interactions, she cannot help but believe he will wonder at her presence and perhaps be less than congenial.
However, when he arrives, he is solicitous and kind. He asks after her family and, when introduced to her aunt and uncle, is the epitome of grace and hospitality. Darcy invites her uncle to come to fish whenever he might choose. As her aunt and uncle return to the house, Darcy and Elizabeth walk together, and he asks if she would consent to meeting his sister. Elizabeth realizes that this a quite an honor from Darcy, especially in light of the high regard he has for Miss Darcy. She agrees.
As they depart in the carriage, Elizabeth finds that Darcy seems a different man and her prejudice is altered. His thoughtfulness and kindness open her heart to think of him in a different light; and her pride is altered enough that she finds no reason to criticize him or think unkindly of him, having seen a side of him that is new to her. Even his graciousness to her relatives indicates that something has changed with Darcy.
In these ways, her visit to Pemberly allows Elizabeth's pride and prejudice regarding Mr. Darcy, to be broken down.