Who did Darcy say was responsible for Elizabeth's acceptance of his marriage proposal in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice?
In Chapter 58 of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, just after Darcy asks Elizabeth if her feelings of loathing for him had changed and is assured that she definitely now loves him, Darcy informs Elizabeth that his aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, is unwittingly responsible for his second proposal and Elizabeth's acceptance.
As Darcy explains, immediately after Lady Catherine imposed herself on Elizabeth at Longbourn, demanding Elizabeth promise not to accept a proposal from Darcy and being refused, Lady Catherine immediately went to see Darcy in London. She had relayed her entire conversation with Elizabeth, including every impertinent word Elizabeth said, with the hopes of showing Darcy how offensive a person Elizabeth is and getting him to promise he would never propose to her. However, against Lady Catherine's desires, Darcy did the exact opposite by promising he would indeed propose to her. Darcy explains that Lady Catherine's recitation of things Elizabeth had said "taught [him] to hope" that Elizabeth now loved him whereas previously he had "scarcely ever allowed [himself] to hope before" (Ch. 58). Darcy's reasoning is he knew Elizabeth would have "frankly and openly" given Lady Catherine any reasons she felt she still had for detesting and refusing Darcy had she still felt as she did when he first proposed. But, instead, Darcy learned from Lady Catherine that Elizabeth did not say he was the "last man in the world" she could ever marry, as she had said to Darcy's own face; instead, Elizabeth only blatantly said, when asked by Lady Catherine to promise never to become engaged to Darcy, "I will make no promise of the kind" (Ch. 34; Ch. 56).
Hence, since Elizabeth did not indicate to Lady Catherine that she would never marry Darcy, Darcy knew he now had hope that she had changed her mind and would indeed be willing to marry him. Therefore, ironically, Darcy and Elizabeth owe their engagement to Lady Catherine, which was the exact opposite of what Lady Catherine had been hoping to accomplish by confronting them.
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