In Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, how is Elizabeth's fun at Darcy's expense different from his own behavior toward her and her friends and family?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen uses several scenes to contrast Elizabeth's character with Mr. Darcy's. In these scenes, Elizabeth pokes fun at Mr. Darcy, while in contrast, Mr. Darcy replies with honesty and civility.

One instance of Elizabeth making fun of Mr. Darcy at his exspense occurs when she is staying with her sick sister at Netherfield. Darcy exclaims that he has never known more than six women he would consider "accomplished," or talented and successful. He further goes on to describe a very long list of talents and manners an "accomplished" woman must have. Elizabeth is thinking of Mr. Darcy's arrogance and pride when she delcares in response "I am no longer surprised at your knowing only six accomplished women. I rather wonder now at your knowing any." The difference between Elizabeth's remark to Mr. Darcy and his to her is that Elizabeth intended the remark to belittle him. Elizabeth is trying to point out Mr. Darcy's pride, conceit, and arrogance. On the otherhand, Mr. Darcy did not mean to offend anyone by his remark, he was merely giving his honest opinion.

Another instance of Elizabeth poking fun at Mr. Darcy at his expense takes place while they dance together at the ball at Netherfield. Every comment Elizabeth makes to Mr. Darcy is aimed at proving to him just how rude he is, how proud he is, and how prejudiced he is. Throughout the dance, she continualy makes rude, witty insinuations about his character. Mr. Darcy, however, always replies to with civility, even saying at the end, "I would by no means suspend any pleasure of yours."

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Pride and Prejudice

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