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Pride and Prejudice is written in the form of a generic Shakespearean comedy as with a fair few of Austin’s novels. Most of these archaic comedies begin with mistaken identity, followed by a sudden revelation, and then, most commonly conclude with marriage or multiple marriages. Pride and Prejudice is a novel that fulfills all of these criteria. The contemporary idea of marriage also has a large presence in the novel and reflects strongly the ideas of Austin on the theme of marriage, a concept that Austin seems to reject, a possible reason for publishing the novel. From the first line of Pride and Prejudice, the narrator reveals her satirical approach to matrimony then saying, “a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife”. This is then followed by Mr. Mrs. Bennet’s further discussion of marrying off their 5 daughters, this is used by Austin to draw the attention of the readers towards marriage and establish it as the main theme of the novel. This is foreshadowing the ultimate ending of the novel including multiple marriages. The main reason that multiple daughters need to be married off is due to the Bennet family’s financial situation, a complicated situation as it revolves not only around money, but rather more social status in a class-based social structure. If the Bennet daughters do not marry before Mr Bennet dies they will not only lose their house but more importantly their social standing which would leave them with nothing. Marrying well would ensure that all five Bennet daughters would remain housed and happy.

Mr Collins’ proposal is widely regarded as one of the most entertaining scenes in the whole novel. Mr. Collins proposes to Lizzy in a rather unromantic way, specifying his pragmatic and often self-centered reasons for wanting to marry Lizzy instead of genuinely emotional ones. Mr. Collins’s proposal is business-like, and he goes as far as to discuss the benefits to him as a clergyman if he were to wed a woman like Lizzy. Mr. Collins describes his affection for Lizzy as ‘violent,’ which is a rather odd choice of words, and though he attempts to reassure Lizzy that he does care for her in some authentic way, he also comments on her lack of wealth. Mr. Collins is a practical man, and his proposal is also practical, but his lack of self-awareness, among other characteristics, makes such a match unimaginable. Elizabeth wants to marry for love and not convenience. She does not like Mr. Collins and is repulsed even further by the desperation in which his address is made. Elizabeth Bennett then goes on to give a reason for such a rejection and why she did not agree with the proposal despite risking her future social security and standing, this was a major factor as Mr. Collins had an incredibly affluent patroness, meaning that he would be able to provide for her despite his monetary situation. Lizzie at first denies the proposal politely, but then proceeds to fully if not harshly explain how she feels about the situation when Mr. Collins reinstates his proposal, she says `your hope is rather an extraordinary one after my declaration. I do assure you that I am not one of those young ladies (if such young ladies there are) who are so daring as to risk their happiness on the chance of being asked a second time. I am perfectly serious in my refusal.’ This seems to work as Mr Collins Quickly accepts and moves on to Charlotte Lucas, who willingly accepts. Mrs. Bennet, who is anxious for Elizabeth to accept Mr. Collins, reacts badly to the news of her daughter’s resistance and threatens never to see Elizabeth again if she doesn’t marry him. When Mrs. Bennet appeals to Mr. Bennet for support, though, he states that he would never want to see Elizabeth again if she did marry Mr. Collins. Mr. Collins finally realizes that his suit is hopeless and he withdraws his offer. This further evidences the differences between the two parents and reinforces the fact that Mr. and Mrs. Bennet married out of youthful imprudence and passion, not love or the ability to agree with each other in unison.

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Mr. Darcy’s introduction before his fateful first proposal involves him inquiring about Elizabeth’s health, Mr. Darcy then nervously paces around the room for a few minutes, this may serve as evidence of an internal battle between his love and admiration for Elizabeth and contemporary societal beliefs that would prevent him from confessing such feelings. This is evidenced later in the chapter during Darcey’s speech when he references her connections. Mr. Darcy says that ‘perhaps these offenses could have been overlooked if your pride had not been hurt by my honest confession of scruples which had prevented me from forming a serious conception for a long time’. This explains why he believes his honesty made her reject him and asks her: ‘Can you expect me to rejoice in the inferiority of your connections?’. This statement further emphasizes how much Darcey has changed at the end of the novel in his pride and demeanor. After what seems like much internal debate suddenly, he declares his love for her. He starts by eloquently expressing his admiration. He then refers to the inferiority of Elizabeth’s social connections and explains that her family’s rather unattractive behavior dissuaded him from proposing sooner. Elizabeth is offended and harshly declines his proposal, much to Darcy’s surprise. Elizabeth explains her reasons for turning him down. First, she cites the arrogant manner of his proposal. Second, she explains her distaste for the way he worked to separate Bingley from Jane. Finally, she claims that she could never marry a man who could treat Wickham so badly. Darcy sends Elizabeth a letter to clarify all the reasons for his previous actions. It turns the events to the end of the story. He explains important things that she doesn’t understand before. Things that are said wrongly about him and things he prefers to keep a secret. Moreover, the important information that is included leads to a change in their opinions, feelings, and even their actions. It plays a very crucial role in the rest of the novel. Furthermore, this letter gives us a very clear picture of Mr. Darcy himself. It reveals that he is a kind and wise man. Therefore, he doesn’t react crudely when she refuses his proposal impolitely. But he still forgives her ill-treatment and treats her gently although she hurts his pride. After reading the letter, Elizabeth experiences many conflicted feelings. Beginning with regret because of the prejudice that prevents her from living a wonderful life with the man she loves and her misunderstanding all the time of Darcy’s real character. Moreover, she feels ashamed of her rude and unfair treatment towards a good and gentle person. Reflecting upon her former behavior and views, she is horrified and ashamed and exclaims, ‘I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away, where either was concerned. Till this moment, I never knew myself.’ This acts as a huge turning point from which both characters no longer assume the other’s feelings and opinions based on a first impression. This was Elizabeth was emotional response to the letter, though her physical response was similar in the fact she cried with happiness and despair at the proposal, giving off a very mixed response.

The major difference between Mr. Darcy’s proposal compared to Mr. Collins’ proposal is the passion that is portrayed by Mr. Darcy Lizzy. If Mr Darcy felt no passion towards her, he wouldn’t have been nervous before he proposed to her. Also when he was rejected he wouldn’t have felt such anger and hostility towards her, as he wouldn’t care about her. This was true in Mr Collins’ case. Mr. Darcey was driven by passion and as such was heartbroken when he was turned down, this shows the reader the difference between love in a proposal and a proposal for mutual benefit. Mr. Collin’s proposal was more about trying to persuade Lizzy to marry him rather than showing his love for her. His lack of sincerity and love is then quickly shown by his quick recovery and proposal to Charlotte Lucas. Another difference is Lizzy’s reaction after the proposals have all been said. Lizzy cries for half an hour after Mr Darcy has proposed to her, whereas she shows no emotion for Mr Collins, with Jane Austin even going as far as allowing Mr. Bennet to make a joke out of the whole situation. Another difference in these proposals is the words in them. Mr Darcy is brutally honest with Lizzy, even though it hurts her greatly. However, Mr Collins only has words of false praise for Lizzy, which makes her feel that Mr Collins is proposing for the wrong reasons. From Mr. Collins’ introduction to the proposal, we as the readers can tell that it is not a serious prospect and are even encouraged to laugh at the character as the five sisters torment him in various ways due to the way he is presented. Mr. Collins gives off a false impression of Love to Lizzie with empty compliments and false decelerations, whereas Darcey’s proposal is presented as sincere right from the beginning and this is made blatantly clear By Austin via the change of tone and lack of witnesses for the proposal, indicating not only that Darcy is shy about his feelings, but that he wants to express them to her only despite the fact she doesn’t feel the same way about him. Lizzie’s reaction is a classic case of comic reversal in a Shakespearean comedy as the main protagonist realizes that they had been wrong throughout the entirety of the novel up to this point and have now come to a sudden realization, and will subsequently change their ways. This format is shown almost exactly throughout the proposal and its subsequent chapters as Lizzie slowly comes to realize the way she has acted, this is demonstrated by her saying shortly after the proposal ‘I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away, where either was concerned. Till this moment, I never knew myself.’ This shows her reversal and realization which we realize is an essential turning point in the novel immediately afterward due to her complete change in opinion of Mr. Darcey, Until he asks her to marry him, Elizabeth’s main preoccupation with Darcy centers around dislike; after the proposal, the novel chronicles the slow, steady growth of her love, further adding to the overall themes of love and marriage as a whole throughout the remaining segment of the novel.

As a reader we learn Lizzie’s true opinions about love and marriage throughout these two proposal scenes, this is voiced by her audible disgust with Mr. Collins’ proposal as it demonstrates marriage for mutual benefit, not love, a theory which she detests and makes opinions clear on. This shows the true importance of love and marriage as the main protagonist is stuck between love and better judgment. Multiple scenes throughout this novel demonstrate various degrees of love in marriage and act to serve as a societal comparison between love, and mutual benefit marriage demonstrated by Charlotte Lucas and Mr. Collins. The complex part of Darcey’s proposal is that Elizabeth does not at the time feel the same way about Darcey as he does about her which further complicates their relationship because Lizzie was expected to accept the proposal and all contemporary beliefs predict that she undoubtedly should have done, but this is the whole point of Austin’s writing, she breaks societal boundaries at a time when status and social standing meant everything. Both episodes give clues toward the comic denouement of the novel and lead the reader to expect multiple marriages as Lizzie gets offered two polar opposite proposals, attempting to give a clue as to which one she will take. The themes of love and marriage were very prominent yet unspoken of parts of Austin-era society as marriage was a usually mutually beneficial contract, a proposal of marriage not being something that would ever be denied by a woman if it was by an important man. The writings of Austin were revolutionary as they addressed the themes of love and marriage from a modern viewpoint at a time when talking about such matters was taboo, with every part of the novel contributing to the themes of love and marriage as if to make a point about the lack of discussion of such topics.

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