Pride and Prejudice: Chapter 34 - Summary & Analysis

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      Summary: When the others have gone Elizabeth sirs reading Jane’s letters. Suddenly there is a ring and Darcy is admitted. He appears agitated and suddenly declares his love for Elizabeth, who is dumbfounded. Darcy speaks eloquently about his pride, making it clear that he knows that Elizabeth is his social inferior and that it is against his better self that he loves her. Whatever compassion Elizabeth feels for him, on account of her impending refusal of his offer, is lost in resentment. She sees that he has no doubt in receiving a favourable answer from her and he turns pale with anger when she rejects him. Elizabeth blames him for separating Jane from Bingley. Darcy admits this and says he rejoices in his success in the matter. Elizabeth upbraids him with his treatment of Wickham. Darcy refutes this and quits the house after Elizabeth has told him that under no circumstances would she ever consider marrying him.

      Critical Analysis: This chapter marks an important step, in the Darcy-Elizabeth relationship. Here Darcy makes a proposal of marriage to Elizabeth. This first proposal of Darcy is catastrophic as it occurs at the wrong moment. The discovery of Darcy’s role in the split between Jane and Bingley makes her smoulder with resentment against him and just when she hates him the most Darcy reveals his love for her.

      The proposal is as awkward and insensible as the earlier one made by Mr. Collins. Darcy is full of pride and rather than emphasising his love, constantly refers to the struggles and obstacles which he has had to overcome, in order to make himself take this step. He tells Elizabeth that he likes her against his reason, and character. It is no wonder then that Elizabeth is more offended than enamoured by such a proposal and so she rejects it outright in a frank and direct manner. She tells him “I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry.”

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