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Compare and contrast the marriage proposals received by Elizabeth Bennet. Is it inevitable, in your view, that she will refuse the first two proposals and accept the third?

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Introduction

Compare and contrast the marriage proposals received by Elizabeth Bennet. Is it inevitable, in your view, that she will refuse the first two proposals and accept the third? For women in the late 17th and early 18th century, marriage was exceptionally important as it was incredibly difficult for them to find a reasonable living by themselves and would have otherwise had to live off the hospitality of a family relative. Like today, most women would have preferred to marry for love but in spite of this, many had to find a husband who could offer both security and a dependable income or else they might have to marry beneath their social class. Pride and Prejudice is based around the theme of marriage and how each of the Bennet sisters manages in finding an ideal match, particularly the two eldest: Jane and Elizabeth. Elizabeth Bennet received her first proposal from Mr. Collins, a clergyman living on the estate of Lady Catherine de Bourgh; from the letter he sent, he is first introduced to the book as being a pretentious and insensible man, demonstrated by Mr. Bennet's ironic comment that he seems to be "a most conscientious and polite young man". This is also reflected in his long sentence structure and lavish language throughout the piece. As a result, before he and Elizabeth have even met she is baffled by him, declaring him an "oddity" because of his "mixture in servility and self-importance". ...read more.

Middle

In addition to this, she had just re-read the letters she had received conveying Jane's sorrow over Bingley's absence, "as if intending to exasperate herself as much as possible against Mr. Darcy". The moment Darcy arrived to express his feelings of love towards her could not have been chosen at a worse time. By Darcy starting by saying that "In vain have I (has he) struggled" against his feelings for her, Elizabeth was not encouraged to respond positively either as it was implied that he saw her as socially inferior and such a connection would have degraded himself. Again, like Mr. Collins, he generally concentrated on how the marriage would affect himself rather than how Elizabeth might have been feeling, tending to talk about things other than love such as "family obstacles" and his efforts to feel no affection towards her. Moreover, he too anticipated a secure response because of the importance of social status and money in a marriage at the time, which frustrated her even further. It would have been unrealistic both in terms of the novel itself and of Elizabeth's character for her to have accepted Darcy at this stage. Following her refusal of Darcy, nevertheless, Elizabeth's agitation shows how unexpected the offer of marriage was to her and how little she had thought her response through. ...read more.

Conclusion

In contrast to his first, Darcy's second proposal begins with his saying that his only thoughts when he helped Lydia were for Elizabeth. By plainly stating his true feelings for her instead of with how he has tried to resist them, Elizabeth feels more compassion for him and consequently makes it clear that her feelings could not be more different to when Darcy first asked her hand in marriage. Unlike the first proposal, the second is not set out as a conventional proposition but is more of a mutual agreement between them and apology for their previous actions. This lay-out suits Elizabeth's character much more as her feelings are being considered as equal and nothing is expected of her; Darcy is not convinced of a positive reply. Austen then uses indirect speech, for example: "Elizabeth... ... gave him to understand that her sentiments had undergone so material a change since the period to which he alluded" to convey the warmth between the couple but also give them a somewhat private moment to themselves. Because of Elizabeth's realisation of her misunderstandings concerning Darcy and the nature of his proposal, it makes it realistic for her response to have changed between both offers of marriage. The growing affection between them leading up to their apologies, as is seen during their meeting in Pemberley, makes it inevitable that she would have eventually accepted his offer. ?? ?? ?? ?? Katie Turner 10P ...read more.

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