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Comparison of Proposals in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

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Introduction

Comparison of Proposals in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." This is the first sentence of Pride and Prejudice and stands as one of the most famous first lines in literature. Even as it quickly introduces the event that sets the novel in motion, this sentence also offers a miniature sketch of the entire plot, which concerns itself with the pursuit of "single men in the possession of a good fortune" by a variety of female characters. The concern with socially profitable marriage in nineteenth century English society manifests itself here, for in claiming that a single man "must be in want of wife," the narrator reveals that the opposite is also true, a single woman, whose socially given options are quite limited is in want of a husband. In this essay, I will look into the differences between two marriage proposals as well as their similarities. Beforehand, I will outline the profile of the two men involved: Mr Collins and Mr Darcy. Chapters seventeen to nineteen introduce Mr Collins, the target of Jane Austen's greatest satire, and Wickham, the novel's most villainous character. ...read more.

Middle

Charlotte's marriage to Collins puts a grim note into the romantic happiness that Elizabeth will later find. Indeed, one can interpret Charlotte's fate as a component of Austen's criticism of a male-dominated society that leaves unmarried women without a future. Whereas Elizabeth is an idealist who will not marry solely for money, to either a fool (Collins) or a man she dislikes (Darcy, at first), Charlotte is a pragmatist and will marry for the sole reason of money if it will benefit her financial difficulty, even if it means marrying a selfish fool. In chapters thirty-three to thirty-five, Darcy makes a dramatic appearance and the focus of the storyline is on him. Alone at the parsonage, Elizabeth is still mulling over information given to her when Darcy enters and abruptly declares his love for her. The timing of Darcy's proposal is far from ideal as Elizabeth had recently re-read the letters from Jane and was dwelling on the new information given to her by Fitzwilliam. His proposal of marriage dwells at length upon her "social inferiority," as he does not consider it an insult to her but an expression of how much she means to him despite her "degrading relations," and Elizabeth's initially polite rejection turns into an angry accusation. ...read more.

Conclusion

She is aware of what Mr Collins is like and she knows from the start that there is no possibility of marrying him. With Darcy however, Lizzie is not so much rejecting him, but a misconception of his character. She believes Darcy to be someone she loathes and it is that very misunderstanding which is the reason why she rejects him. The source of Lizzie's erroneous beliefs is based on previous encounters and information given to her by other people about Mr Darcy. This shows the reader how important first impressions were in pre-1900. This effect was achieved well by Austen and it allows the reader to appreciate the social setting and cultural context of her time. Overall, both proposals are clumsily presented and their origins are of a selfish nature: Collins's motive for society's acceptance and Darcy's to put an end to his emotional misery. Nowadays we don't believe in formalities and class discrimination. I believe that despite this, the impact of first impressions is still as influential now as it was then. We are lead to believe, when reading Jane Austen's novel, that true love always triumphs. This point of view is romantic and places ideals and aspirations above pragmatism and common sense. The big difference between these two proposals is that Darcy has passion for Lizzie and Collins has none. As we know, the ultimate result will play in Darcy's favour. William Nolan 10C 26/04/2007 1 ...read more.

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