Compare and Contrast the Two Proposals in Pride And Prejudice

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Q. Compare and contrast the two proposals and Elizabeth's reaction to them.

A. In Pride and Prejudice, the main female character – Elizabeth is shown to have extreme pride towards the main male character – Darcy. This is because in their first meeting Elizabeth's pride is wounded by Darcy as he says ‘She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me, and I am in no humour to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men.' This thoughtless and proud comment causes Elizabeth to take an instant dislike to Darcy. It also clouds her judgement of Darcy's true nature.

After everyone has left for Rosings, Elizabeth is still fuming from the news that Darcy was the cause of Jane and Bingley's break up. Elizabeth is then startled by the arrival of Darcy. After a few minutes of silence, Darcy shocks Elizabeth with a sudden declaration of love for her and a proposal of marriage. In the beginning Elizabeth is flattered in spite of her deeply rooted prejudice against Darcy. Elizabeth's feelings soon turn to rage as Darcy catalogs all the reasons why he did not pursue his feelings earlier. These reasons include her inferior social class and her family obstacles.

As a retaliation Elizabeth stuns Darcy by refusing his proposal very harshly stating "I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry." This shows the extent of her prejudice against Darcy as she says that even from the beginning she disliked him. She condemns him for his arrogant manner in which he proposed his actions to separate Jane and Bingley and his actions of unfairness on Wickham. He accepts these accusations without apology, even with contempt. However, he flinches when she accuses him of not behaving like a gentleman and when Elizabeth finishes her denunciation of him, Darcy angrily departs.

Elizabeth's lively, straightforward, daring character and her disregard for considerations of rank show through clearly in her reaction to Darcy's proposal. Her pride is also evident, for the lack of civility in her refusal is due primarily to injured pride resulting from Darcy's frank explanation of his reservations about proposing to her because of her inferior connections.

Overwhelmed with emotion, Elizabeth cries for a half hour afterward and retreats to her room when everyone returns home. Elizabeth collapses and cries from weakness as a result of what has passed.

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