1. Introduction 1
2. Demonstration 2
2.1 Darcy’s arrogance 2
2.1.1 An arrogant man at the first meeting 2
2.1.2 The causes for Darcy’s arrogance 3
2.2 The change of Darcy 4
2.2.1 The unsuccessful proposal 4
2.2.2 A Man of nobleness and warmth 5
2.3 Causes for Darcy’s change 6
2.3.1 Elizabeth: a soul mate for Darcy 6
2.3.2 Jane Austen’s view on marriage as reflected by Darcy’s changes 7
3. Conclusion 8
Works Cited 10
Delicate Warmth under the Appearance of Arrogance: An Analysis of Darcy in Pride and Prejudice
As one of the most outstanding writers at the end of 18th century, Austen Jane is famous for characterization. She is proficient at portraying the ordinary people in daily life from her unique female perspective. The characters in her works mostly come from different classes including civilians, the middle class and nobility. Besides, it’s not hard to notice that she prefers depicting considerable middle-class characters. Proceeding from realism, she is skillful not only in applying subtle irony and burlesque, but also in putting harsh social commentary and free indirect speech in her writing. Therefore, Jane has an irreplaceable place in English literature and gains the popularity around the world.
Austen’ plots often reflect the female independence on marriage to pursue favorable social status and economic security. The most highly praised novel during her own lifetime was Pride and Prejudice, which was her second published novel and called as First Impression before. With favorable reviews and good selling, the novel achieved an immediate success, being a book of high praise.
Pride and Prejudice retains a fascination for modern readers, continuing near the top of lists of "most loved books". It has become one of the most popular novels in English literature, selling over 20 million copies, and receives considerable attention from literary scholars. Likewise, it has paved the way for archetypes that abound in many contemporary literature works of our time. Modern interest in the book has resulted in a number of dramatic adaptations and an abundance of novels and stories imitating Austen's memorable characters or themes.
Nowadays, as for Pride and Prejudice, the foreign researchers mostly focus on these topics including marriage, the heroine Elizabeth, its effect on society at that time and etc. Pride and prejudice has a big influence, attracting many Chinese scholars to research on this book. Most of these researches focus it from various views, such as marriage, female consciousness, the heroine Elizabeth and translations of the novel.
In conclusion, most scholars focus on the topic of marriage, and also a few scholars focus on the topic of Mr. Darcy. However, there are few studies analyzing Jane Austen’s view on marriage as reflected by Darcy’s changes in attitudes towards women. And this essay is going to focus on this point. This essay is divided into three parts. The first part introduces Mr. Darcy and the reason why he is arrogant. The second part focuses on his behavior after his change and the reasons. And the third part studies the author’s view of marriage as reflected by the changes of Darcy’s character.
The first impression of Mr. Darcy on the readers should be nothing but arrogance. And he is somewhat justified for it. Darcy has a good figure, handsome appearance and great wealth. It can also be said that Darcy’s arrogance is inherent from his family. As a member of nobility, he looks down upon the low classes who are philistine and lack of good upbringing. However, his status also makes him despise others easily, resulting in the misunderstanding between him and Elizabeth. His arrogance also makes the latter dislike him.
An arrogant man at the first meeting
Jane Austen depicts Darcy’s arrogant character through his expression, manner and words and makes a lasting impression on readers. Darcy’s friend Mr. Bingley, a wealthy, charming and social young bachelor, moves into NetherfieldPark in the neighborhood of the Bennet family. On the ball of Longbourn, Mr. Bingley meets the oldest daughter Jane of the Bennet family and they fell in love at the first sight. Meanwhile, Mr. Darcy meets the second daughter, Elizabeth. However, they don’t leave a favorable impression on each other because of Mr. Darcy’s arrogance and Elizabeth’s prejudice against him. When Bingley asks him to dance with Elizabeth, Mr. Darcy refuses and says “She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me, and I am in no humor at press to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men.” (Austen,14) When he says these words, he knows that Elizabeth is around him. The reason why he does this is because he wants to show his loft and manner before her. On a ball, gentlemen should invite ladies to dance, let alone there are ladies without partners. However, he is too proud to communicate with them. Darcy’s prejudice against the middle class people makes him prefer to stay alone. When Mr. Bingley asks him for the second time, he refuses decisively again. Actually, Darcy is good at dancing, but he refuses to dance with the ladies who don’t have male partner, even the number of women is more than men’s on the ball, which makes his invitation more necessary. Darcy’s arrogance is thoroughly reflected in these descriptions.
The causes for Darcy’s arrogance
Mr. Bingley is soon well received, while Darcy makes a less favorable first impression by appearing proud and condescending at the ball they attend. He is the wealthy owner of the renowned family estate of Pemberley in Derbyshire, and is rumored to be worth at least £10,000 a year. He never needs to worry about his living. Under Jane Austen’s pen, Mr. Darcy’s in Pride and Prejudice “drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien” (11) at the first time people see him. For his appearance and status, it attracts a lot of young ladies. However, his high economic status causes him to look down upon those who are in lower social classes. In Darcy’s views, girls are all mediocre and superficial. In specific, he thinks Jane smiles too much and Elizabeth is not pretty enough to tempt him. The most important reason is that he has seen through that middle class social networking in Hartfield which is only a market where people marry their daughters to eligible men. That’s why he dislikes Mrs. Bennet.
No matter how handsome and rich he is, modern female readers may dislike Mrs. Darcy for his arrogance, because their improved social status entitles them more freedom and control over their life. They don’t have to depend on men for living which makes them more critical when judging men. However, in the late 18th century, marriage was so important to a woman. “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife” (1), it is the background of the whole novel and it reflects the social reality in an ironic way. At that time, most women desire to marry a rich husband for living a comfortable life no matter who the man is. After all, marring to a wealthy man is like the second birth for a woman. If a woman picks a person below her class to get married to, she would be regarded as weirdo by surrounding people at that time. Therefore, women have no choice but to marry a proper husband. It’s no wonder that girls at that time spare no efforts to find eligible men to be their husbands.
The change of Darcy
From an arrogant noble to a well-mannered gentleman, Darcy experiences the gradual progress in his disposition. At first, his noble status makes him arrogant and high-hearted. Then, falling in love with Elizabeth makes him realize his bad behavior and arrogance. The love for Elizabeth straightens him out the ridiculousness of his arrogance. Finally, he performs the quintessence of good manners to win Elizabeth’s heart.
2.2.1 The unsuccessful proposal
Shortly after the ball of Longbourn, Mr. Darcy is aware of Elizabeth’s adorable personality gradually. When her sister gets diseased on the house of Bingley, Elizabeth ignores her mother’s opposition and walks three miles to care for her sister, which makes a deep impression on Darcy, because he never saw a lady would do this. After a three-mile walk, the glow on her face and the bright light in her eyes occupy the heart of Darcy. In addition, Elizabeth’s love to her sister and her good care to her sister move him greatly. Her sincerity and freedom from ritualistic formality deeply impresses Darcy. It is from then on that his attitude towards her starts to change.
Her beautiful appearance and distinctive character always linger in Darcy’s mind. Naturally, some affection for her is growing. In the Chapter VIII of the work, there is a hint “Is Miss Darcy much grown since spring?” Miss Bingley asked Mr. Darcy, “Will she be as tall as I am?” “I think she will. She is now about Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s height, or rather taller.” (53) Darcy estimates his dear sister’s figure for Elizabeth’s which shows his love for the young lady. However, when he falls in love with Elizabeth, he bottles up his feelings because he believes that they do not have the equal status. Due to the unequal status, it’s hard for Darcy to open his heart to her. Meanwhile, he supposes that if he shows his true feelings, he would be disdained.
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