Analyse the Portrayal of the Relationship Between Elizabeth and Darcy in 'Pride and Prejudice'.

1145 Words5 Pages
Austen was first published in the early nineteenth century, in a time where social status was of paramount importance within society. Status was recognised by the amount of land a person owned, as well as the wealth one inherited. Women were not entitled to inherit, so for women, marriage was crucial for financial security. This key point is highlighted often within the novel. Charlotte's acceptance of Mr. Collins’ proposal is a prime example; “marriage had always been her object; it was the only honourable provision for well-educated young women of small fortune, and however uncertain of giving happiness, must be their pleasantest preservative from want” (p105)1. Austen makes use of Charlotte's character to illustrate the social norms for women of the time. Charlotte's reaction to Collins' proposal is cleverly juxtaposed with Elizabeth's own values and more romantic views on marriage, as she is offered his proposal first; “You could not make me happy, and I am convinced that I am the last woman in the world that could make you so”(p92)2. Elizabeth's concerns are predominately her overall happiness and mental wellbeing, as opposed to her anxieties about her future financial security. These oppositions of values offer the reader a chance to balance their own views on the sanctity of marriage. They also have the chance to empathise with Elizabeth as she declines Collins' offer, which could seem selfish as it not only risks her future security but that of her families as well. Austen has already made the reader aware of Darcy's affection towards Elizabeth however. “Elizabeth could not help observing... how often Mr. Darcy's eyes were fixed on hers” (p45)3 making their relationship inevitable from early on in the novel. Austen introduces the character of Elizabeth indirectly through her father. His obvious favouritism of her over his other daughters, combined with
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