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.



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

  1. Always enjoy your books, haven’t had the pleasure of reading this one. Would love to win a copy. Thanks for the chance to win.

  2. Regina,

    Although Darcy is physically absent for quite a lot of the book he is always present in Lizzy’s mind.

    Whether she’s mulling over his comments,feeling slighted by his snub,or sympathising with his wretched and ill conceived manner towards Wickham in the ‘misery loves company’ mode,Darcy takes pride of place in her mind,her active thoughts and opinions.

    Thank you for the opportunity to win this book.

  3. Pride and Prejudice is the ultimate romance and Mr. Darcy, despite his prejudice, is the dream romantic. I have not had the opportunity to read DARCY’S PASSIONS: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE RETOLD THROUGH HIS EYES, but I would appreciate the chance to enter the give-a-way. Good luck to everyone!

  4. I haven’t read it but I would love to read it. However I believe Elizabeth’s opinion was formed because she was entranced at first site,but because of her mother’s feelings about her she felt she did not stand a chance so his comment gave her the perfect reason she could never have him,she would choose to hate him instead.

    • The “pride” and the “prejudice” in the novel is not one sided. Darcy is not all pride and Elizabeth all prejudiced. Elizabeth’s pride is pricked by Darcy’s remark, and she builds herself some walls to keep him out and her own insecurities in.

  5. It is amazing that Darcy is not physically always present although we always sense his physical presence. To me, that is one of the marks of Jane Austen’s writing greatness. Thank you for the giveaway. Although I have read the book, I would truly love to have an autographed copy. You, too, are an engaging author. Thank you for the giveaway.

  6. Love your books but have not read this one, so would love to read it.adn learn more about the story from. Darcy’s point of view.

    • This was my first book, coming out in February 2009. In August, I will release book #32, and that is not counting several rewrites of previously published books. Taking up writing by happenstance sent me down a path I had never considered.

  7. As I have read, and enjoyed, Darcy’s Passions in the original hardcover, you needn’t enter me in the giveaway. When one of these days we meet in person I may ask you to sign it, tho’! The current of Mr. Darcy certainly runs through the entire story of P&P even when he was not actually on the page. And we wouldn’t have it any other way — he is never far from our own consciousnesses either. Yes Fate, not coincidence. The outcome was meant to be. 🙂

  8. I would love to be considered for the giveaway as I have not read this book. I enjoy JAFF, especially prequels and sequels (and am writing one about Kitty!) I’ve read many of your posts about Regency and appreciate you sharing your research.

    • I am so happy that you find value in the Regency research I share on Austen Authors and on my blog, Every Woman Dreams.
      A book about Kitty would be a delightful addition to JAFF. I wish you well with the book. Thanks for joining me today.

  9. This is a wonderful giveaway which I would enjoy greatly. The post was fascinating and interests me very much.

  10. Wonderful post. As you know Regina, I have read this more than once! It is so much fun to read from Darcy’s POV. This is one of my favorite overall. I love variations but there is something special about your retelling. It was also one of my very first when I began my Austen obsession so it holds a special place! I have the original hardback and ebook. Would love to add a signed copy of the new cover. Love it!

    • Becky, I am always glad when I see your name appear in the comments’ section of my posts, for I know that you and I made this journey together. “Darcy’s Passions” was my first Austen book, as you well know.

    • Like you, I, too, am a big fan of P&P variations, Dawn.
      “Darcy’s Passions” is marketed as a retelling, rather than a “What if…” for it keeps to Austen’s original, just using Darcy’s point of view, rather than Elizabeth’s.

  11. .Wonder if Elizabeth rejection of the proposal would have been so strong if Bingley had rejected Jane for his own reasons
    I have not read the book and would love to enter the giveaway

    • In “A Dance with Mr. Darcy,” I have Bingley reject Jane because of Lydia’s elopement and forced marriage. Jane marries elsewhere and becomes a cherish wife to a “gentleman” with a substantial estate. Her husband does not need to worry of society’s snobbery, as does Bingley.

      I cannot believe you have never read Darcy’s Passions. LOL! “Upon my word!” as Mrs. Bennet would say. LOL!

  12. Loved this post and of course Darcy’s Passions was one of the first books I read when I discovered JAFF. Loved reading his POV and the the sequel which followed. My old copy is quite “dog-eared” and I wouldn’t mind having a fresh copy. Thanks, Jen Red

    • I possess multiple copies of Pride and Prejudice, but I prefer the one I used when I taught the book to my Honors English classes. It has lovely marks in the margin and underlining. LOL!
      Thanks for being a loyal supporter of my writing, Jen.

  13. I have not yet red this book, but it sounds very interesting. Other POV’s are so illuminating because rather than just guessing what someone is thinking, you actually know.

  14. Thank you for the review of the many phases of Mr. Darcy. As a person who reads the many novels of the P &P variations, you can tell that he does have these differences. To those that know him, see his good and bad side and those who don’t know him only see his proud and beyond approach side. Once Elizabeth refuses him, he tries to change and does somewhat. However, a leopard doesn’t really change it’s spots, does he???? No matter what, he is still loved by all and mostly us readers.
    Thank you for the chance to enter this amazing contest/

    • Mary Ann, it is odd, but from the first time I read Austen’s book, I never saw Darcy as being proud. I attribute it to being a military brat. Men in command—men who accept responsibility—often are a bit “put-offish” until one gets to know them. I saw Darcy through that lens, and I was actually a bit disappointed when he talks about his transformation to please Elizabeth. I would have preferred him to speak of “letting his guard down,” which I suppose in the Regency era was very much the same thing. However, I was only 12 at the time of that first reading. Now, I like to think of myself as more sophisticated (although infinitely clumsier). LOL!
      Thanks for adding to the conversation.

  15. If possible, please enter me in the draw, I would love a copy of Darcy’s Passions. I enjoyed reading this examination of how Elizabeth’s view was formed.

  16. Thank you for a giveaway of a signed copy. I love the Pride and Prejudice stories above all, and would love to have this book to read!

  17. I would be honoured to be included in the giveaway. I have the eBook, but has been a while since I read it. I like to read of Darcy’s POV.

  18. If this is international I would love to be entered for a signed copy Regina. I have the e-book but you can’t beat an actual book.
    I really love reading stories from Darcy’s POV so I thoroughly enjoyed this, giving us an insight into his feelings as opposed to Elizabeth’s.
    Thank you Regina.

  19. If your lovely giveaway is open internationally, Regina, I’d love my name to be put into the hat, please. I don’t have an ebook copy but this book does form part of my audiobook library. It’s been several years since I listened to it though. A signed copy would be a fantastic addition to my library.

    I really enjoyed listening to this story on my commute and the hero’s POV sub-genre is one I particularly like. Your Captain Wentworth’s Persuaion book is a personal favourite.

    Sometime, I think that people forget that Darcy has so little page time in canon that he could be indeed classed as a minor character, even though he does “get the girl” at the end!

    • Thanks for the the compliment of Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion. I am particularly fond of the dear captain.
      The fact that Darcy is only in the beginning and the end of the book regularly surprised my students when I taught Pride and Prejudice; yet, his presence never seems to leave Elizabeth.
      As I mentioned to Glynis above, all my giveaways are international.

  20. I LOVED the retelling of P&P from Darcy’s perspective! Even though Darcy was the hero in P&P, in Jane Austen’s version he was absent from large sections of the book…even though he was mentioned fairly frequently. Seeing the story play out through his eyes gave us the insight into his innermost thoughts and feelings. I LOVED that this book when further than P&P…it went on beyond the wedding…and gave us a glimpse into the married life. GREAT read!!!! I own this e-book and highly recommend it!!!!

    • For Elizabeth, Mr. Darcy was never “out of sight…out of mind.” It was more “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” For Darcy, Elizabeth Bennet became the one he could never forget. In many ways, it was all very sad, for if not for Fate, the ending could have been quite different.

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