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|Lizzy's feelings for Darcy (a bit long)
Written by Kathi
(6/2/2007 10:10 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Good points from both Kathi and Line..., penned by Lila
I think you raise some interesting questions, and there are no clear answers. I do not believe that there is evidence that Lizzy ever experienced a subconscious attraction for Darcy. I realize that we can't always control emotions like that, but IMHO, Lizzy had too good a self image to be attracted, on any level, to a man who looked down on her the way that Darcy did.
However, I do think she found him interesting, even intriguing, as you say, in an impersonal way. After all, there were not many people in her world she could match wits with as equals. She did seem to enjoy that, but I don't agree with your interpretation of the statement you refer to (Chapter 6 -- "He has a very satirical eye, and if I do not begin by being impertinent myself, I shall soon grow afraid of him") as meaning that she fears seeing him as a partner. I don't see anything about that in the context, only that she fears if she doesn't stand up to him, that she might see herself, at least, as being intimidated by him, and she wants to avoid that.
I'm not sure that Darcy's temper and arrogance don't take him out of the running -- if they didn't then I think Lizzy would have regreted her refusal more once she found that he had not been dishonorable in his treatment of Wickham. However, I do think that if Darcy had courted her as he would have if he hadn't been bothered by her inferior connections, he might have changed her mind. (Of course, he couldn't do that, because he was, in fact, bothered by her connections.)
Many readers seem to believe that Lizzy was totally prejudiced against Darcy starting from the Assembly, and would have interpreted anything about him negatively. However, I think that until she heard Wickham's story, Lizzy was open to having her mind changed about Darcy. After the first proposal, Lizzy told Darcy, "But it is not merely this affair [i.e., separating Jane from Bingley] ... on which my dislike is founded. Long before it had taken place my opinion of you was decided. Your character was unfolded in the recital which I received many months ago from Mr. Wickham." (That is, her opinion of his character wasn't "decided" until after she heard Wickham's story.)
Lizzy goes on to say, "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 groundwork 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."
Apparently Lizzy hadn't concluded, based on his behavior at the Assembly or his ignoring her at Netherfield, that she would never marry him. I do think he would have had to show her she was wrong about his arrogance, but she may not have been completely closed to seeing evidence. It wasn't a coincidence, IMHO, that it was about a month after the Netherfield party arrived that Wickham arrived and dripped his poison into Lizzy's ear. It was that, not Darcy's demonstrations of arrogance, that unalterably turned Lizzy against him. (Unalterably, of course, until she read his letter.)
So my picture of how Lizzy's feelings about Darcy progress -- from the beginning, she feels he is arrogant, but she finds him interesting. After Wickham arrives, she comes to believe Darcy is dishonorable. After reading Darcy's letter, she realizes she was wrong about his being dishonorable, but she still sees him as arrogant, and that is enough of a deal-breaker, so to speak, that she can't really regret her refusal itself, even if she now deeply regrets the form the refusal took, as well as ever having believed that an honorable man was dishonorable.
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