October 9, 2014
The Dance of Dialogue in Pride and Prejudice
In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy both go through dramatic changes in their attitude towards each other. Darcy is devoted to Elizabeth, but denies it because of her family and her lower status. Elizabeth believes Darcy to be arrogant and interfering. Through conversations these characters have, their true regard for each other is discovered. Austen effectively uses dialogue to develop the change in the principal characters’ moral temperament, and also to advance significant concerns in the novel such as marriage and wealth-based status.
For Darcy, his conversations with Elizabeth reveal to readers his interest in her. He politely tries to engage in conversation with her by asking, “Do you not feel a great inclination, Miss Bennet, to seize such an opportunity of dancing a reel?” Elizabeth, however, does not answer. Puzzled by this, Darcy asks again, to which Elizabeth responds: “I heard you before; but I could not immediately determine what to say in reply. You wanted me, I know, to say ‘Yes,’ that you might have the pleasure of despising my taste; but I always delight in overthrowing those kinds of schemes, and cheating a person of their premeditated contempt. I have, therefore, made up my mind to tell you, that I do not want to dance a reel at all; and now despise me if you dare.” Darcy, astonished, relinquishes by saying, “Indeed I do not dare” (52). Elizabeth expects him to react as though he had been insulted, because that is her perception of his character, and is surprised that he is not offended. But Darcy is so bewitched by her that, despite her low status, he is worried he might be in dang...
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...secret of Lydia and Wickham. His language does not reveal his intentions, but he sets out to find the eloped couple and make amends so that the family might be spared harsh judgment. This gracious act shows that Darcy is also trying to make amends for Elizabeth’s comment when he proposed to her, about him not behaving in a gentleman like manner.
Through witty dialogue between characters, Austen demonstrates plot and character development. She employs sarcasm and determination of will to pit characters like Lady Catherine and Elizabeth against one another. On the other hand, conversations between Elizabeth and Darcy slowly reveal their genuine interest in one another. Additionally, the insensibility of Mr. Collins and the snobbery of Lady Catherine offer differing views on marriage. In the end, the two main characters reach accord despite the odds against them.
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