Love and Security
Sometimes inspiration can come when you least expect it. A smile from a stranger or a song on the radio can ignite your imagination and instantly transport you to a different time and place. I recently
experienced this when I heard a song by the Eagles entitled “Lyin’ Eyes”. The song is about a girl who has to choose between love and security. After I heard this, I could now relate to Mr. Darcy’s struggle to find love.
In reading Austen’s novel, Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy is a man conflicted with feelings about love and a desire to follow the wishes of his family. Darcy’s proposal to Elizabeth is the most pivotal scene in the book because it’s the first time he is vulnerable to the opinion of others. However, when he enters the room to unveil his feelings for Elizabeth, he presents himself as a man in complete control assured of the answer she will give to him, “He spoke of apprehension and anxiety, but his countenance expressed real security” (125). Little does he know that Elizabeth will expose the fear of many men by refusing his proposal. This scene sets up the rest of the book and it outlines two choices Darcy must make about the type of man he wants to be. Will he be someone that offers love above all else or someone that offers security which is guaranteed by his social status?
I feel that Darcy does not understand the effect of his family values on his relationships with other people. This makes him vulnerable when he interacts with people from a lower social status because when he offers help to someone and they accept it, he feels that the person should be grateful for the offer. I believe that these feelings are not isolated to the Darcy family but in fact exist throughout the elite social class. This is of course is in stark contrast to Elizabeth. She is motivated by her feelings not by material things. For example, when Mr. Collins proposed to Elizabeth, it was not out of love; it had more to do with the accumulation of wealth along with the offer of security.
Offering security to Elizabeth was clearly not a problem to Mr. Darcy but his arrogance put him at risk to associate with people around him. During one such event held at Netherfield by Mr. Bingley, Mr. Darcy viewed the party attendees with disparaging eyes. For instance at the party, Elizabeth overheard Darcy saying to Mr. Bingley “She is tolerable but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humor at the present to give consequences to young ladies who are slighted by other men” (9). Without any precaution, Darcy formed his opinion based on outside appearance of a person. When Darcy later proposed to Elizabeth, she clearly recalled how his comments made her feel but did not bother to take his feelings into account when she rejected his marriage proposal. I don’t blame Elizabeth for being so insensitive to Darcy’s feeling because you can’t just judge the book by its cover.
Judging too quickly seems to be a theme that appears throughout the book. Darcy tried to atone for his actions in a letter that he penned to Elizabeth but inadvertently exposed himself to more contemptible outbursts from her. In the letter he tried to explain why he had intervened between Jane and Mr. Bingley. In his defense, he tried to relate how the two should not be together but ended up just sounding boorish and insensitive. Elizabeth struggled reading the letter because there were parts of it which affirmed her feelings for him while others appeared to contradict her deeply held beliefs about him. Using the letter to communicate their feelings only seemed to exasperate the situation; a one-sided conversation can be had either by pen or by yelling. If these two people could just be in the same room and talk about their feelings!
I chose the passage in the novel about Darcy’s wedding proposal because it seems to signal a pivotal change in their relationship. It seems like the author, Jane Austen, has set up the situation so the reader cannot quite lose hope that Elizabeth and Darcy will soon to marry. However, it is not until Darcy realizes that he must mature his feelings and beliefs about love that he can begin to appreciate Elizabeth. Since all of Elizabeth’s doubt about Darcy’s character is only known to the reader, I anticipated his transformation with each page.