The Source of Elizabeth Bennet’s Myopic View of Mr. Darcy + a Giveaway

The Source of Elizabeth Bennet’s Myopic View of Mr. Darcy + a Giveaway

 Fitzwilliam Darcy is a major, and a minor, character in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Although he plays a major role in the story’s outcome, after all, Mr. Darcy is the romantic hero of the piece, he is not in every scene. The story is told from Elizabeth Bennet’s perspective, and Darcy is absent throughout extended periods of the book. However, he is far from being “out of sight…out of mind.” Darcy’s presence overshadows all of Elizabeth’s interactions with the other characters, even though Miss Elizabeth would never admit an interest in the man.

Darcy had walked away to another point of the room. She followed him with her eyes, envied everyone to whom he spoke, had scarcely patience enough to help anybody to coffee, and then was enraged against herself for being so silly. 

“A man who has once been refused! How can I ever be foolish enough to expect a renewal of his love? Is there one among the sex who would not protest against such a weakness as a second proposal to the same woman? There is no indignity so abhorrent to their feelings.” (Chapter 54)

tumblr_mf1ham5y041rt0ya9o1_500 Elizabeth is a strong, sympathetic, and independent character, and the two men with whom she associates romantically must be equally intricate. Despite Mrs. Reynolds’s explanation of Darcy’s “bumbling social manners” being the result of his shyness, there remains plenty of proof of his excessive pride. Yet, we do learn much of the man’s “softer” side through his interactions with Charles Bingley. Darcy serves as Bingley’s mentor, and he accepts the role with good-natured diligence.

Between him and Darcy there was a very steady friendship, in spite of a great opposition of character. Bingley was endeared to Darcy by the easiness, openness, and ductility of his temper, though no disposition could offer a greater contrast to his own, and though with his own he never appeared satisfied. On the strength of Darcy’s regard, Bingley had the firmest reliance, and of his judgment the highest opinion. In understanding, Darcy was the superior. Bingley was by no means deficient, but Darcy was clever. He was at the same time haughty, reserved, and fastidious, and his manners, though well-bred, were not inviting. In that respect his friend had greatly the advantage. Bingley was sure of being liked wherever he appeared; Darcy was continually giving offense.  (Chapter 4)

images As a Cit and the “new rich,” Bingley lacks a proper ticket into Society. Darcy is willing to lead the man through the stages of setting up a proper estate, the nuances of proper behavior, etc. I have always wished to know how Bingley and Darcy became friends. Would it not be delightful if Austen had provided her readers a glimpse of how the friendship began?

Elizabeth-and-Mr-Darcy-Pride-and-Prejudice-Screencaps-mr-darcy-and-elizabeth-11522241-1600-900 Elizabeth’s disdain for Darcy’s earliest snubs captivates the man. He recognizes the “danger of paying Elizabeth too much attention,” but Darcy cannot resist her charms. After he reluctantly leaves Elizabeth after the Netherfield Ball, Darcy is not seen again until she meets him at Hunsford Cottage; yet, the man if rarely from her thoughts, especially as Mr. Wickham spends the intervening months in speaking poorly of his former friend.

Mrs. Gardiner had seen Pemberley and known the late Mr. Darcy by character perfectly well. Here, consequently, was an inexhaustible subject of discourse. In comparing her recollection of Pemberley with the minute description which Wickham could give, and in bestowing her tribute of praise on the character of its late possessor she was delighting both him and herself. On being made acquainted with the present Mr. Darcy’s treatment of him, she tried to remember something of that gentleman’s reputed disposition, when quite a lad, which might agree with it, and was confident, at last, that she recollected having heard Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy formerly spoken of as a very proud, ill-natured boy. (Chapter 25)

When Elizabeth meets Darcy at Rosings Park, she is full of the tales Wickham has shared. In Elizabeth’s estimation, Wickham’s half-truths are proof of Darcy’s true character. She cannot comprehend Darcy’s repeated calls upon Mr. Collins’s household nor his unexpected proposal. 

Elizabeth’s astonishment was beyond expression. She stared, coloured, doubted, and was silent. This he considered sufficient encouragement, and the avowal of all that he felt and had long felt for her immediately followed. He spoke well, but there were feelings besides those of the heart to be detailed, and he was not more eloquent on the subject of tenderness than of pride. His sense of her inferiority—of its being a degradation—of the family obstacles which judgment had always opposed to inclination, were dwelt on with a warmth which seemed due to the consequence he was wounding, but was very unlikely to recommend his suit. (Chapter 34)

pride-prejudice With Elizabeth’s refusal, Darcy is humbled. After his letter explaining his interference in Bingley’s and Jane Bennet’s life and his dealings with Mr. Wickham, Darcy again disappears from the story. Elizabeth does not encounter Darcy again for four months. By the time she meets him again at Pemberley, Elizabeth’s harsh opinion of Darcy has softened, and when he behaves heroically by rushing off to save Lydia’s reputation (as well as her own and her sisters), Elizabeth recognizes Darcy is the man who would most completed her.

As for Elizabeth, her thoughts were at Pemberley this evening more than the last; and the evening, though as it passed it seemed long, was not long enough to determine her feelings toward one in that mansion, and she lay awake two whole hours endeavoring to make them out. She certainly did not hate him. No; hatred had vanished long ago, and she had almost as long been ashamed of ever feeling a dislike against him that could so be called. The respect created by the conviction of his valuable qualities, though at first unwillingly admitted, had for some time ceased to be repugnant to her feelings, and it was now heightened into somewhat of a friendlier nature by the testimony so highly in his favor, and bringing forward his disposition in so amiable a light, which yesterday had produced. But above all, above respect and esteem, there was a motive within her of goodwill which could not be overlooked. It was gratitude – gratitude, not merely for having once loved her, but for loving her still well enough to forgive all the petulance and acrimony of her manner in rejecting him, and all the unjust accusations accompany her rejection. (Chapter 44)

Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship is the perfect nucleus for Austen’s theme of “First Impressions,” which are often flawed impressions. Elizabeth’s early disdain comes from how Darcy’s “tolerable” remark had pricked her pride. And despite what we assume in hindsight was her early interest in Darcy, she overemphasizes his pride in order to protect her bruised heart. With George Wickham, she ignores her earlier doubts about his being “too perfect.” Wickham’s lies about Darcy only serve to prove Elizabeth’s opinions of Pemberley’s master as correct. Elizabeth accepts Wickham’s story because she does not want to face her buried interest in Fitzwilliam Darcy. However, she is easily disillusioned by Mr. Wickham because, in reality, he is not a man worth knowing. Elizabeth’s myopic view of the world lies not in her lack of eyesight but in her protection of her own pride.

NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY. I HAVE THREE PRINT COPIES OF DARCY’S PASSIONS: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE RETOLD THROUGH HIS EYES AVAILABLE TO THOSE WHO COMMENT BELOW. SO, IF YOU HAVE NEVER READ THE BOOK, COMMENT BELOW TO  BE PART OF THE GIVEAWAY AND LET ME KNOW YOU WISH TO BE INCLUDED IN THE PRIZE DRAWING. EVEN IF YOU READ IT AND WOULD LIKE TO HAVE A SIGNED PRINT COPY OF DARCY’S PASSIONS TO GO ALONG WITH YOUR eBOOK COPY OF THE BOOK, COMMENT SO I MAY ADD YOUR NAME TO THE MIX. [ if you are not interested in the giveaway, you may still comment below, and we can have a dialogue.]

THE GIVEAWAY WILL END AT MIDNIGHT THURSDAY, JULY 20, 2017. THE WINNERS WILL BE ANNOUNCED ON SUNDAY, JULY 23. 

93 Responses to The Source of Elizabeth Bennet’s Myopic View of Mr. Darcy + a Giveaway

  1. Interesting article. I actually have a hard time liking Darcy! Admiring his act of generosity, yes; feeling some empathy for his social awkwardness even, yes. But a warm affection, not so much ?. So your thoughts on his relationship with Bingley were illuminating for me- thank you. I am intrigued by the idea that Darcy “completes” Elizabeth. I feel they learn equally from each other- and hopefully will continue to do so. What qualities do you feel Darcy brings to the relationship- or to life itself- that Elizabeth lacks?

    • Here are some of Elizabeth’s personality/characteristics as I see them:
      She is witty and teasing in her conversations.
      She often laughs at others, as well as at herself.
      She offers quick judgements on people and situations.
      She often says the opposite of what she thinks.
      She relies heavily on her “first impressions” when defining a person’s worth.
      She is independent and acts upon her decisions.
      She is decisive, but also deeply emotional. We see her devotion to her sisters and to Charlotte, with whom she strongly disagrees.
      She is kindhearted, especially in her acceptance of Georgiana Darcy.
      Her judgements hold her faults, for she based them on appearances, rather than to look a bit deeper. Her sister Jane, her Aunt Gardiner, and even Caroline Bingley suggest to Elizabeth that she misjudged both Wickham and Darcy. She tells us that from the beginning she meant to be ‘uncommonly clever’ in disliking Darcy ‘without any reason’.
      Darcy’s letter forces her to look at her poor judgements in regards to many she has encountered. One thing to note here is Elizabeth accepts the blame for her narrow views of Mr. Wickham’s charms. She realizes she has been walking around with the same kind of misplaced “pride” of which she accused Mr. Darcy. ‘Till this moment, I never knew myself’.
      The letter also forces Elizabeth to rationalize why and how she had become “prejudiced.”
      Elizabeth places her idealized views of marriage aside. She begins to see that all marriages are a compromise, and that Charlotte Lucas has what her friend wanted from her marriage to Mr. Collins, and, likewise, Collins has what he wanted from the marriage. They are well matched in that manner.
      Darcy’s confession of Georgiana’s near ruin shows Elizabeth that social and economic backgrounds, especially for those of the gentry and the aristocracy, are important to a marriage. We hear that when she says, “He [Mr.Darcy] is a gentleman; I am a gentleman’s daughter. So far we are equal.” This line is her way of saying, “I understand that I require a partner, who will treat me as an equal in our marriage.”
      By this time in the book, she realizes that Darcy is more than his wealth, and he is entitled to a certain amount of the pride she once thought unbearable. She knows his assessment of her family is spot on. Lydia’s foolish elopement is full proof that her parents have not given their daughters a proper upbringing. At Pemberley, she begins to realize that he is the perfect man for her. She is not looking at his fortune, but rather at the man who would balance her strengths and weaknesses, like ying and yang.
      Darcy and Elizabeth communicate well together. They are both sensitive to the others’ needs. They have made an independent decision, one of which their families do not necessarily approve, but they can depend upon each other. That is the type of marriage Elizabeth realizes she wants and needs.

  2. I have not read Darcy’s Passion – and would very much like to be included in the giveaway, please. Thank you for the opportunity.

  3. Hello Regina.
    Thank You for the giveaway, I would like to participate.
    Lizzy got Hurt by That first remark on her looks of Darcy which prevented her from trying get to know Darcy and she was hostile. While she was blinded by Wickham. She didnt get over her first impression on her own (she needed Darcy’s letter).

  4. Thank you for sharing this post it was very interesting to read. Thank you for the opportunity to win a print copy of your book as well and I would love to be entered for the giveaway. It is always fun to read stories told from Darcy’s perspective and I have been meaning to read this book.

  5. I haven’t read Darcy’s Passions before so I would love to win a copy. Thanks for the offer, Regina. I think there are many covers for this title but I think I like this the best. But the man on the cover do look a bit feminine.

    • There are multiple covers for this book, Sylvia. Ulysses Press has one. The Barnes & Noble hardcover was the second. I brought it out previously with the man reading a book. As my previous post stated, I wanted a new look. I have three poses with the same cover model. That way I can use the same model for other rewrites and provide a more consistent look.

  6. Have not read it yet but would love to! Thank you for the giveaway! ~ another Elizabeth

  7. Oh, I would love an eBook of Darcy’s Passions. I have the hardback [copyright 2009] that was the first JAFF that I ever read. I didn’t even know JAFF existed. I read it ever year along with P&P. Yep, can’t do without my Darcy’s Passions. I love it.

  8. Seeing the world through Darcy’s perspective is a tempting offer. I’d love to see the 19th century England, Elizabeth, and the Bennet family through his eyes. His character had so much to express, so much to share which I’d love to know..

  9. After seeing different film versions and reading JAFF I didn’t realize how little Mr. Darcy is in the book until I read it again more recently. Like Elizabeth I guess he is just not far out of mind. I would love to be entered I the giveaway.

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