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|A mind amazed at its own discomposure
Written by KatharineW
(5/21/2010 10:12 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, The Successful Proposal Scene (ch 58), penned by Kathryn Ann
Ever since that fateful day in April when Darcy expressed his ardent admiration and love, Jane Austen has shown the material change in her characters. Small glimpses of Darcy's growing fascination with Elizabeth have been presented subtly almost as if they were brilliant gems seen through a linen handkerchief.
When Elizabeth reads The Letter we are allowed to see the beginning of her transformation from (righteously) angry woman who deems herself to be insulted and her beloved sister's hopes destroyed by a man who seems so certain of his charms and attractions that he is stunned when Elizabeth refuses him.
Here is Austen at her best. Had Elizabeth excepted Darcy at this time we would have lost all respect for her. HE would have lost all respect for her acting on principles that were not that far removed from those of Charlotte Lucas or even Caroline Bingley. Other authors could have written a secret Darcy-Bennet engagement (a la Edward Dashwood and Lucy Steele). Used Lydia's feckless behavior as one of many obstacles to "true love," then gone on to a reasonable and anything but wise end.
Instead we see Darcy acting on Elizabeth's observations of his character. He admits (during his second proposal) that his feelings were just as hurt and that he was just as angry as she had been after receiving his first proposal. Both Darcy and Elizabeth forced themselves to think again and again of their past suppositions, actions, and feelings.
The second proposal is made by a man who is still in love but now realises that love means never forgetting the golden rule: do not do to others anything that would be wounding if done to yourself. Darcy quietly expresses his feelings. Elizabeth, who had all but despaired of ever meriting Darcy's respect, let alone love, if rendered speechless. Only her awareness that her continued silence would hurt Darcy prompts her to speak.
The scene is masterful, shifting from tender emotions to gentle humor to the author leaving the lovers to wonder in silence about their happiness and good fortune.
If I had to be marooned on a deserted island and was only allowed one novel, it would be Pride and Prejudice.
This has been a great group read. I am so grateful to all of those who participated. Now I think I'll read the story all over again.
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