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Should the heroine of Pride and Prejudice have accepted the marriage proposals from Mr Collins and from Mr Darcy? Discuss with reference to the proposal scenes in Pride and Prejudice

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Introduction

Sara Tinkler Should the heroine of Pride and Prejudice have accepted the marriage proposals from Mr Collins and from Mr Darcy? Discuss with reference to the proposal scenes in Pride and Prejudice Elizabeth Bennet is the heroine of Pride and Prejudice, she is at the centre of the novel and through her eyes we see and judge what happens throughout the novel. The Bennet family were not a wealthy family, although they were of good social standing. Elizabeth was the second eldest daughter of Mr and Mrs Bennet. It was Mrs Bennet's greatest desire for her daughters to marry well. At the time when Jane Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice women were expected to be modest, submissive and incapable of independent thought. Many of Jane Austen's female characters in Pride and Prejudice portray this traditional role. Elizabeth's character is modest she is not submissive and certainly not incapable of independent thought. The central focus of this novel is Elizabeth. Elizabeth did not see marriage the same way as her mother. Mrs Bennet wished her daughters to marry a wealthy man however Elizabeth disagreed as she informed her sister Jane only, "The deepest love will ever induce me into matrimony." She will not place marriage at the centre of her ambitions without regard for feelings and circumstance. ...read more.

Middle

Elizabeth was also aware that her father, whom she was very close to, would not force her to do anything, which would make her unhappy. Mr Bennet refuses to intervene on Mr Collins behalf as he amuses him, and like his daughter he questions his sincerity. We feel he shares Elizabeth's thoughts about Mr Collins, "Can he be a sensible man, sir?" The reader cannot help but feel that Elizabeth and her father find Mr Collins absurd. Therefore an acceptance of his proposal would be beyond belief. Eventually Mr Collins realises that Elizabeth will not change her mind. Mr Collins implies that marriage was an arrangement, which did not necessarily include love. Love was however, important to Elizabeth. The reader can not help feel it is also what Jane Austen believed. Marriage to Mr Collins would have been loveless; Elizabeth was therefore right to refuse him. At the time when Jane Austen wrote this novel, social gatherings were very important, these gatherings were an opportunity for matchmaking. At such gatherings Elizabeth meets Darcy. The first gathering in the novel is the Netherfield ball. Here we learn that Elizabeth finds Darcy, 'arrogant' and 'intolerant.' "I could easily forgive his pride if he had not mortified mine." ...read more.

Conclusion

I am well aware that it could not be complied with." Darcy tells Elizabeth that his passion has fought with his awareness of her low social standing. Elizabeth's reply to Darcy is honest. She regards his account of how he had overcome his natural prejudice towards her social position as 'uncivil.' The reader can not help at this stage, but to agree with Elizabeth. Elizabeth was quite right to refuse to marry Mr Collins, Elizabeth had values and moral standards and she was right to remain faithful to these beliefs. Jane Austen portrayed Mr Collins in such a way that the reader would have been pleased that Elizabeth refused him. At the point in the novel when Mr Darcy proposes to Elizabeth, it is understandable from Elizabeth's point of view why she refused him to. She is not aware of certain facts regarding Darcy's behaviour. Wickham has influenced her opinion of Mr Darcy, and she also blames Darcy for her sister's unhappiness. At this point in the novel Elizabeth has misjudged Darcy. Fortunately Jane Austen allows her heroine to discover the truth about Mr Darcy, but this is not until the latter part of the novel, when fortunately Darcy and Elizabeth are able to reveal their true feelings to each other. Their eventual marriage is fulfilling because they have learned to know why they love each other and because it is hard won. ...read more.

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