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Home alone

Elizabeth has remained at home instead of joining the others at Rosings for dinner. She devotes her time to rereading Jane's letters, dwelling on the unhappiness she sees there. Colonel Fitzwilliam has made clear that he has no intentions toward her (and how could he, given that his cousin has already called dibs?), and Elizabeth is okay with that. She's looking forward to leaving Kent herself soon, and to seeing Jane in about two weeks time (a fortnight). "Thank God Mr Darcy leaves in two days' time", she thinks. And with that thought hanging in the air . . . the door bell rings. (The door bell would have involved a pull outside, with a bell that rings inside, in case you're wondering. Here's a link to a period bell pull.)

Enter Darcy, stage left, with proposal

Darcy: I heard you were unwell. I hope you're feeling better.

Elizabeth: [in an icy tone] Thank you.

Darcy: *paces about like a caged animal, then stops in front of her* "In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you."

Elizabeth: O_o

Darcy: I've long been attracted to your fine eyes, and I admire your wit and spirit. Of course, there's going to be hell to pay with my friends and family. Nobody thinks you're good enough for me. I mean, really, it's a complete degradation, when you come to think about it. A man of my status and position marrying a woman like yourself from a family whose status and position is so far below me is sure to cause talk. But as you can see, I'm willing to overlook all that because of my love for you.

Elizabeth: O_o

In spite of her deeply-rooted dislike, she could not be insensible to the compliment of such a man's affection, and though her intentions did not vary for an instant, she was at first sorry for the pain he was to receive; till, roused to resentment by his subsequent language, she lost all compassion in anger. She tried, however, to compose herself to answer him with patience, when he should have done. He concluded with representing to her the strength of that attachment which, in spite of all his endeavours, he had found impossible to conquer; and with expressing his hope that it would now be rewarded by her acceptance of his hand. As he said this, she could easily see that he had no doubt of a favourable answer. He spoke of apprehension and anxiety, but his countenance expressed real security. Such a circumstance could only exasperate farther, and when he ceased, the colour rose into her cheeks, and she said,

Elizabeth: Are you out of your mind, proposing to me in such a manner? You've done it in such a ham-handed way that I can't even muster up thanks for it. I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I cannot accept. I'm sure, given all those negative things you just said, that you'll get over any hurt this might cause you. Yeesh.

Darcy: You . . . wait. What? Why on earth would you reject me?

Elizabeth: Why on earth would you propose while telling me that I'm not good enough for you and that you are acting against your own judgment in doing so? Besides, even if I had liked you, how could I ever accept the proposal of a man who ruined my sister's life?

Darcy: *blush*

Elizabeth: You cannot deny that you did it. You separated two people who loved one another, turning my sister into a laughingstock and breaking her heart.

Darcy: *not only refuses to look sorry, but actually smiles at her*

Elizabeth: Can you deny it?

Darcy: "I have no wish of denying that I did every thing in my power to separate my friend from your sister, or that I rejoice in my success. Towards him I have been kinder than towards myself."

Elizabeth: [RAAAAAAAGE] Besides which, I've heard what a horrible guy you are. I know what you did to poor sweet Mr Wickham.

Darcy: [RAAAAAAGE] Mr Wickham? You feel bad for Mr Wickham?

Elizabeth: Who doesn't feel bad for him, knowing what his misfortunes are!

Darcy: [snarling] "His misfortunes! yes; his misfortunes have been great indeed."

Elizabeth: His misfortunes are ALL YOUR FAULT and you stand there and talk of him with ridicule and contempt!

"And this," cried Darcy, as he walked with quick steps across the room, "is your opinion of me! This is the estimation in which you hold me! I thank you for explaining it so fully. My faults, according to this calculation, are heavy indeed! But perhaps," added he, stopping in his walk, and turning towards her, "these offenses might have been overlooked, had not your pride been hurt by my honest confession of the scruples that had long prevented my forming any serious design. These bitter accusations might have been suppressed, had I with greater policy concealed my struggles, and flattered you into the belief of my being impelled by unqualified, unalloyed inclination -- by reason, by reflection, by every thing. But disguise of every sort is my abhorrence. Nor am I ashamed of the feelings I related. They were natural and just. Could you expect me to rejoice in the inferiority of your connections? To congratulate myself on the hope of relations, whose condition in life is so decidedly beneath my own?"

Elizabeth felt herself growing more angry every moment; yet she tried to the utmost to speak with composure when she said,

"You are mistaken, Mr Darcy, if you suppose that the mode of your declaration affected me in any other way, than as it spared me the concern which I might have felt in refusing you, had you behaved in a more gentleman-like manner."

She saw him start at this, but he said nothing, and she continued,

"You could not have made me the offer of your hand in any possible way that would have tempted me to accept it."

Again his astonishment was obvious; and he looked at her with an expression of mingled incredulity and mortification. She went on.

"From the very beginning, from the first moment I may almost say, of my acquaintance with you, your manners, impressing me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others, were such as to form that ground-work of disapprobation, on which succeeding events have built so immoveable a dislike; and I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry."

"You have said quite enough, madam. I perfectly comprehend your feelings, and have now only to be ashamed of what my own have been. Forgive me for having taken up so much of your time, and accept my best wishes for your health and happiness."

And with these words he hastily left the room, and Elizabeth heard him the next moment open the front door and quit the house.

The tumult of her mind was now painfully great. She knew not how to support herself, and from actual weakness sat down and cried for half an hour. Her astonishment, as she reflected on what had passed, was increased by every review of it. That she should receive an offer of marriage from Mr Darcy! that he should have been in love with her for so many months! so much in love as to wish to marry her in spite of all the objections which had made him prevent his friend's marrying her sister, and which must appear at least with equal force in his own case, was almost incredible! It was gratifying to have inspired unconsciously so strong an affection. But his pride, his abominable pride, his shameless avowal of what he had done with respect to Jane, his unpardonable assurance in acknowledging, though he could not justify it, and the unfeeling manner in which he had mentioned Mr Wickham, his cruelty towards whom he had not attempted to deny, soon overcame the pity which the consideration of his attachment had for a moment excited.

Some remarks

I love this chapter. It's one of my favorite chapters in all of literature for how Austen manages to convey so much about the characters through their actions and looks, with just enough of her narration to point out the humor here. The first time I watched the BBC production, I was horrified by the scene, since there's so very much to be mortified about, but when I watched it with angeladegroot a couple years ago, I laughed through the whole thing. I mean, here's Mr Darcy, trying to declare his love, only he botches it horribly.

I do want to point out this sentence, which is something that bears remembering: "But disguise of every sort is my abhorrence." Mr Darcy is honest to a fault, you see. He probably didn't mean to insult Elizabeth by telling her he loved her and then talking about how he shouldn't - he undoubtedly meant to compliment her ("I like you despite your lack of fortune and connection"). He started extremely well ("You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you"), then quickly rode that proposal right off the rails, where Elizabeth was only too happy to pour kerosene on him and set him on fire. She was already pissed off with him when he showed up, even though he didn't know it, and once he started insulting her and her family, it went south in a hurry (and not in a sexy way).

Having said this is one of my favorite chapters in all of literature, I might add that the next chapter is up there as well.

Here, the EXCELLENT version of this scene from the 1995 BBC production:

And the proposal from the 2005 production, about which I will say that I love Matthew MacFadyen's obvious yearning and his genuine anger/hurt, but Keira Knightley looks like an overacting lizard to me at several points in this scene.

Tomorrow: Chapter 35
Back to Chapter 33

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( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 3rd, 2011 05:16 pm (UTC)
tanita says:
Okay, I'd never seen the 2005 version, having myself a case of severe Knightly-aversion, and a real annoyance as to why they felt the need to redo the 1995 BBC version. (Hi, Americans? It's a British novel. Let's just let that British version stand, mmmkay? Thx.) ... and now seeing it, I'm like, whaaaaa? What is this RAIN? What is this -- honestly beautiful but baffling -- gazebo? What are these LINES???? Why could we not have preserved our Jane's mode of speech?? Why dress people in period clothes and then change their lines???


Also, the book illustration for this scene is just so hilarious. Elizabeth is eensy, comparatively; were she to stand, her head would reach Mr. Darcy's chin. :D Gotta love that.
Feb. 3rd, 2011 06:11 pm (UTC)
Re: tanita says:
They did use (mostly) British actors for the 2005 movie, and Joe Wright is a British director - but he's a British director with NO RESPECT for Austen. And her clothes weren't exactly period-appropriate, since she's supposed to be roughly middle class and is wearing something that looks like homespun in non-period colors with non-period hair (down, for half the movie). It's beyond ridiculous. Yet I adore Matthew Macfadyen and love his performance.
Feb. 3rd, 2011 05:18 pm (UTC)
I think the power of this scene is that I can read/watch it a million times and still it makes me sick to my stomach because of all the miscommunication. I love it, and laugh, and am horrified... but also always a little ill, too.

Side note: in high school a friend of mine and I transposed this scene into script form and used it as a duo acting piece. I was Darcy. It was fun. And also kind of traumatizing.
Feb. 3rd, 2011 05:20 pm (UTC)
Now that I think about it, maybe that's one of the reasons I still get a little ill just reading a recap of the chapter. It's like acting muscle memory. Haha.
Feb. 3rd, 2011 06:13 pm (UTC)
Acting muscle memory makes sense to me.
Feb. 3rd, 2011 06:12 pm (UTC)
You would be splendid as Darcy. Even if I do prefer at least a baritone in that role.
Feb. 3rd, 2011 06:50 pm (UTC)
Oh, DARCY. If ever a guy needed a do-over...

This scene manages to be simultaneously funny and excruciating to me. A balance which cannot be easy to pull off! Brava, Ms. Austen. :)
Feb. 3rd, 2011 07:42 pm (UTC)
That is exactly why it's one of my favorite scenes in all of literature - it is deeply painful and terribly funny all at the same time. And Darcy's indignation about Wickham, which reads as hurt pride and possible jealousy here, turns out to have a basis in bone-deep hurt and anger, as we (and Elizabeth) are about to find out. There's just so much going on here - Elizabeth not having realized that Darcy had feelings for her, Darcy having no clue that Elizabeth knows his role in the Bingley matter and not realizing Wickham has conducted a smear campaign, scene-setting for Darcy's letter and the revelations it contains, scene-setting for much later in the book (at Pemberley and then back at Longbourn), and all the while it's well-written and funny and gut-wrenching.
Feb. 3rd, 2011 07:36 pm (UTC)
Having watched the Colin Firth version a couple of times and therefore knowing what's coming, I find the opening to the scene kind of funny. He is so uncomfortable - pacing, standing, sitting, standing again, all the while shooting her pained and somewhat dirty looks. In the 2005 version, I love, love, the setting. I want to go there and run along that bridge in the rain. I want to stand in that gazebo (if that's what it is.) As always, your dialogue version of events is spot on and most amusing.
Feb. 3rd, 2011 07:44 pm (UTC)
The setting is indeed lovely. As long as the rain isn't too cold, I recommend you doing it.
Feb. 3rd, 2011 07:46 pm (UTC)
Also one of my favourite ever scenes in literature - I was trying to work out why everyone loves it so much - I've seen my stoic mother many a time watch the '95 version mouthing the words along with Elizabeth Bennet (also rubbing her hands with glee) and I too often find myself doing the same. Is it that it is so well written, or that we've been building up to this point for so long, with Lizzy gradually disliking Darcy more and more, and he falling more and more head over heels for her, if so is it because we all kind of like the mortification we feel when we read or watch it, like rubber-necking a car crash.

Maybe it's the dialogue, it flows so well and is so spot on. Maybe it's a bit of everything : )

Your point of Darcy being honest and eaning to pay Lizzy a compliment with his - I love you inspite of these things - put me in mind of that Harry Connick Junior song featured in When Harry met Sally - "...with all of your faults I love you still, it had to be you, had to be you, it had to be you..."
Feb. 3rd, 2011 07:48 pm (UTC)
I just read your response to mostly_Irish - I think that says it all : D
Feb. 4th, 2011 02:25 am (UTC)
Feb. 4th, 2011 02:25 am (UTC)
There are several lines I can quote from this scene - and they're all Austen's. The "In vain I have struggled . . . " speech and Elizabeth's "if you had behaved in a more gentleman-like manner" bit in particular are great. I can quote from the next proposal scene as well, "You must know, surely you must know it was all for you." and "It taught me to hope. . . " and "You are too generous to trifle with me . . . " *swoon*

SUCH a great scene.
Feb. 4th, 2011 11:23 am (UTC)
Can't wait : ) 'what did you say of me, that I did not deserve...'
*double swoon* : )
Feb. 3rd, 2011 10:57 pm (UTC)
Feb. 4th, 2011 02:25 am (UTC)
So much to love in this scene!
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 4th, 2011 02:27 am (UTC)
I almost picture him acting like Gaston from Disney's Beauty and the Beast, grinning about what a catch he is.
Feb. 4th, 2011 03:57 am (UTC)
I am going to think about Darcy now every single time I listen to Gaston's proposal song. LOL.
Feb. 4th, 2011 04:08 am (UTC)
I love Beauty and the Beast in a big, big way. Also, I love that icon of yours.

"Belle, I'm offering you . . . ME." (licks his teeth and smiles)
Feb. 5th, 2011 07:17 pm (UTC)
If only he had stopped at how ardently he admires and loves her...
Feb. 5th, 2011 11:23 pm (UTC)
She probably still would have turned him down, due to the Jane thing, but I'm sure you're right - explaining how you overcame your own sense of mortification to propose to somebody probably isn't a good way to go.
Feb. 6th, 2011 01:59 am (UTC)
I've got the Marv Johnson song 'You Got What it Takes' running through my head. Maybe if Darcy had sung to her instead?
Feb. 6th, 2011 02:51 am (UTC)
So many songs would've worked better than "I love you despite your lowly origins and crap family" that it's hard to choose just one . . .
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )

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