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Examine the development of the relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy. To what extent does the society of the period influence their behaviour and attitude?

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Introduction

Examine the development of the relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy. To what extent does the society of the period influence their behaviour and attitude? "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife". The first sentence of Pride and Prejudice is also one of the most famous ever written. This is typical of Jane Austens writing she sums up the theme of her book. She is being ironic, implying that parents with daughters assume that single men of "good fortune" want to get married, this of course could be the last thing on their minds. Immediately in chapter one the social restrictions of the period have an effect. Mr Bennet the head of the household must go and visit Mr Bingly, this is because it would have seemed discourteous for women to visit a new neighbour without a previous visit from the man of the house. "A forbidding, disagreeable countenance". This is the first impression of Darcy, he comes across to be extremely proud and, "above his company". With Mr Bingly's amiable behaviour Darcy is contrasted and his arrogance is condemned. You could say prejudice sets against him. At the Netherfield ball Darcy is acquainted with Elizabeth Bennet. To whom he does not think to be pretty only "tolerable". Later Darcy tells us it was shyness which lead to his awkward behaviour at the ball. However, it is hard to justify his comments made about Elizabeth. ...read more.

Middle

At the next ball Darcy asks Elizabeth to dance. Stubborn as ever and blinded by prejudice she enjoys it but will not admit it. After absence at balls and lack of social activity. Plus warnings from her family, Elizabeth realises her feelings for Wickham and ends her involvement with him. Elizabeth's promise to " not be in a hurry" to marry, and her refusal to promise to be wise if tempted. Together these statements summarise her views on marriage. This coming after ending her involvement with Wickham shows that she is independent. Possibly her high regard for Wickham is wearing and her prejudice against Darcy likewise. You can learn a lot about Elizabeth's character when she visits Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Unlike the Lucases, Elizabeth isn't apprehensive about meeting Lady Catherine. Elizabeth stands up to her and isn't intimidated by her high rank. Again Jane Austen uses irony in her book. Elizabeth was embarrassed by her mother's lack of breeding and now Darcy is embarrassed about his aunt's lack of manners. Darcy shows his feelings for Elizabeth later on when they meet at Rosings. Not through dialogue but through his jealousy when his cousin and Elizabeth have a good conversation and Fitzwilliam appears to be an intelligent and interesting person to talk to. However Darcy and Elizabeth also have conversations which allow them to find out about each of their "public performances". It is apparent that a bond between the two is growing, although Elizabeth still fails to sense this. ...read more.

Conclusion

Another set back takes place when news of Lydia's extravert behaviour comes. Darcy is there when Elizabeth opens the letter and he finds out. Elizabeth now believes any chance of romance between herself and Darcy is lost. In the mist of the business between Wickham and Lydia Elizabeth realises she loves Darcy. The marriage would be " to the advantage of both". She still has fears that her sister's foolishness could cost her happiness. Darcy's part in the marriage of Wickham and Lydia could be the final step towards a marriage with Elizabeth. Elizabeth is proud of his actions and has fallen in love with him. Mrs Gardiner tells Elizabeth that it was Darcy's love for her that prompted him to pay for the wedding. A marriage between the two is now inevitable. On their next meeting Darcy and Elizabeth say little to each other. Darcy has returned to his quiet, distant state and Mrs Bennets non-stop talk about her new son in law makes it awkward for the two to congregate. Lady Catherine visit to Elizabeth again shows strength of character. Her refusal to never marry Darcy shows us she still wants to marry him and that she will not be pushed about, even by Lady Catherine de Bourgh! Elizabeth is really hurt when her father mocks Darcy and she is forced to laugh it of. She fears Lady Catherine's influence will stop the engagement and thoroughly believes she has lost Darcy forever. Darcy finally proposes and Elizabeth gratefully accepts it. They both admit that pride and prejudice has halted their relationship but believe that with Elizabeth's wittiness and Darcy's serious nature they will make a successful marriage. ...read more.

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