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Written by BarbaraB
(5/10/2013 3:52 p.m.)
On this reading I noticed something I don't recall really noticing before and it made me realize that Elizabeth's viewing of Darcy's portrait in the gallery is more than just a cursory moment in her tour of Pemberley.
What I noticed is not only does she stand in front of the portrait for a few minutes in earnest contemplation, but she returns to view it again. It occurred to me that Austen is trying to relay something other than Elizabeth's general interest. Lizzy, imo, is trying to reconcile her feelings and she is in the process of making a transition. Her feelings on leaving Hunsford where she last saw Darcy were: "...his disappointed feelings became the object of compassion. His attachment excited gratitude, his general character respect; but she could not approve him; nor could she for a moment repent her refusal, or feel the slightest inclination ever to see him again." (37)
When Lizzy visits Pemberley, she is impressed with the taste of the grounds, its interior, furnishings, etc and during this era taste was equated with character. Elizabeth also notices that Wickham's picture is still present among a group of miniatures and learns that it was in one of the favorite rooms of Darcy's father. The fact that Darcy has never removed the picture even after all the trouble Wickham has given his family, shows his respect for his father despite his personal feelings. Then the glowing testimony of Darcy's character by Mrs. Reynolds caps all these positive impressions so by the time Lizzy is front of the portrait, there is much for her to consider in 'making him out' "...and as she stood before the canvas, on which he was represented, and fixed his eyes upon herself, she thought of his regard with a deeper sentiment of gratitude than it had ever raised before; she remembered its warmth, and softened its impropriety of expression."
Not long after, it is as if the portrait has come to life and Darcy is in front of her in the flesh. (Love this moment---the shocked meeting of their eyes). Despite the embarrassment on both sides, Lizzy notices and is surprised by Darcy's improved demeanor and manners and the transition becomes complete. They are able to now meet on common ground and begin anew with total respect, each for the other.
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