Saturday, November 6, 2010

On what grounds does Elizabeth reject Mr. Darcy's proposal of marriage, and how does Mr. Darcy defend himself against her allegations?

Mr. Darcy's Offensive Sense of His Social Superiority
Elizabeth gives three distinct reasons to Mr. Darcy for having rejected his proposal of marriage. Firstly, she says that he has always been speaking to her from a higher level because he is too proud a man and because he has been always acutely conscious of his social superiority over her. Even while making his proposal of marriage, she says, he had told her that he had been loving her against his will, against his reason, and even against his character. How can a girl accept a proposal of marriage from a man who adopts such an arrogant attitude even while making a proposal of marriage?

Mr. Darcy's Role in Causing a Breach between
Mr. Bingley and Jane
Elizabeth next says that Mr. Darcy has given her several grounds to think ill to him. One such ground is that he had played an unjust and ungenerous role in the love-affair of Mr. Bingley and Jane. She says that he had been the chief means of dividing the lovers from each other. Mr. Darcy had, by playing a wicked role, brought about a breach between Mr. Bingley and Jane. In this way, Mr. Darcy had misled people into thinking that Mr. Bingley was an inconsistent and fickle-minded man, and that Jane was a foolish girl to have fallen in love with such a man. Elizabeth further says that Mr. Darcy had caused misery to both Mr. Bingley and Jane.
Mr. Darcy's Alleged Injustices towards Mr. Wickham
Elizabeth's third reason for rejecting Mr. Darcy's proposal is that, according to Mr. Wickham's account of Mr. Darcy's dealings with that man, Mr. Darcy had been most unjust and callous towards him. Elizabeth says that Mr. Darcy had been responsible for reducing Mr. Wickham to a state of poverty, that Mr. Darcy had withheld the benefits which Mr. Darcy was expected to confer upon Mr. Wick­ham, and that Mr. Darcy had deprived Mr. Wickham of everything which he had deserved by virtue of his merits.
Elizabeth's Initial Dislike and
Subsequent Hatred of Mr. Darcy
Elizabeth then proceeds to inform Mr. Darcy that, from the very beginning of her acquaintance with him, he had behaved towards her in a manner which showed him to be an arrogant and conceited man, disdainful of the feelings of others. This initial impression of hers about him had been strengthened by the developments which had followed. Those developments were the dirty role which he had played in the Jane-Bingley affair, and Mr. Wickham's catalogue of the grievances which Mr. Wickham had against Mr. Darcy and of which Mr. Wickham had himself informed her. She finally tells him that her dislike of him had become so strong as to be "immovable", and that within a month of her having known him she had decided that he was the last man in the world whom she should marry.
Darcy's Reason for Preventing a Marriage between
Mr. Bingley and Jane
Mr. Darcy in his letter explains his position with regard to the charges which Elizabeth had brought against him. He admits that he had strongly urged Mr. Bingley not to make a proposal of marriage to Jane. Mr. Darcy had found that Mr.  Bingley had very strongly been attracted by Jane's beauty. At first Mr. Darcy had treated this matter very casually, thinking that, in course of time, Mr. Bingley would himself give up any thought of marrying Jane. Subsequently, however, Mr. Darcy had found it necessary to intervene in the matter. He had watched Jane's behaviour and had found that her look and manners did not give any sign that she was deeply in love with Mr. Bingley. He had, on the contrary, formed the impression that, while Mr. Bingley was intensely in love with Jane, Jane's attitude was one of indifference. From this observation, Mr. Darcy had concluded that Mr. Bingley would not find much happiness in life with Jane as his marriage-partner. And this was not the only reason why he had exerted his influence upon Mr. Bingley to prevent him from marrying Jane. Another reason was the foolish and sometimes absurd behaviour of Mrs. Bennet and her two youngest daughters. Mr. Darcy had not been able to tolerate the silly talk of Mrs. Bennet and the silly behaviour of the two youngest girls. Even Mr. Bennet's behaviour had not always been dignified. Mr. Bingley too would have found such persons to be most embarrassing as his relations.
Darcy's Defence against the Charge
of Injustice to Wickham
Mr. Darcy then proceeds to deal with the charge that he had been very unjust and cruel towards Mr. Wickham. In this connection Mr. Darcy says that he had done his utmost to establish Mr. Wickham in life. He would have certainly conferred a living upon Mr. Wickham if Mr. Wickham had so desired. It was Mr. Wickham himself who had informed Mr. Darcy that he did not wish to take orders. Mr. Wickham had expressed his intention to study law. Mr. Darcy had thereupon given him enough money to enable him to study law. Soon afterwards Mr. Darcy came to know that Mr. Wickham was leading a life of idleness and dissipation. This state of affairs went on for three years. Thereafter Mr. Wickham wrote to him that his circumstances were very bad and that he would like to become a clergyman if Mr. Darcy were to confer a living upon him as had originally been planned. Mr. Darcy did not think Mr. Wickham to be a fit man to serve the church; and he had therefore rejected Mr. Wickham's request. Mr. Wickham's resentment against him on this account had been violent, and Mr. Wickham had thereafter been abusing him in the presence of other people. But that was not the end of the matter. Mr. Wickham had subsequently been guilty of very reprehensible conduct. He had known Georgiana, the sister of Mr. Darcy, from her childhood. About a year back, Georgiana had been established in London under the charge of a certain lady by the name of Mrs. Younge. With the help of this woman, Mr. Wickham had made Georgiana agree to elope with him. Georgina was at that time only fifteen years old, and had no experience of the world. Luckily Mr. Darcy had gone to see Georgiana a day or two before the intended elopement; and then Georgiana had confessed to him the whole plan. Of course, Georgiana had by then changed her mind because she did not want to displease a brother who had looked after her like a father. But Mr. Wickham's character had now been fully exposed to him. From that time onwards Mr. Darcy had never wanted to meet Mr. Wickham. If Mr. Wickham had been able to elope with Georgiana, and if he had married her, he would have got a fortune of thirty thousand pounds to which Georgiana was entitled by her father's will. Mr. Wickham's object had not been Georgiana but her money. Mr. Darcy concludes his letter by saying that, if Elizabeth doubts any of his statements as given in this letter, she is free to contact Colonel Fitzwilliam who is surely a reliable man and who would confirm everything that Mr. Darcy has written in this letter.
Elizabeth's Character as Revealed Here
Elizabeth is fully justified in her rejection of Mr. Darcy's proposal of marriage because all her grounds except one are solid. Mr. Darcy had certainly been proud and arrogant in dealing with everybody, including Elizabeth. He had certainly obstructed the marriage of Mr. Bingley and Jane, thus causing the deepest misery to the latter. Elizabeth's rejection of the proposal and her stating the reason for this rejection show her to be a brave and fearless girl who hides nothing and who seeks no excuses and plays no tricks. She is not the kind of girl who would sacrifice all considerations of self-respect and honour in order to become the wife of a rich man owning a large estate. The only fault in Elizabeth's case is that she had accepted Mr. Wickham's allegations against Mr. Darcy without having sought any evidence or proof to support them. She had forgotten the old adage: "Appearances are deceptive".
Mr. Darcy's Character as Revealed Here
As for Mr. Darcy, his letter shows that he is an honest and truthful man. However, the charge of pride and arrogance against him is valid and holds good even at the time of his writing this letter. It is his pride which prevents him from reiterating his proposal of marriage in the letter in which he has offered a defence of himself against all the charges. He has not denied the charge that he had come in the way of Jane's marriage with Mr. Bingley, but he offers no apology to Elizabeth for the wrong he had done to Jane. As Elizabeth herself says, this letter itself is written in an insolent and haughty tone.

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