We all know how Elizabeth Bennet reacted to the Hunsford proposal and how her life progressed in the months following. How did Darcy feel after Elizabeth rejected him and how did he transform into the leading man we all love? (Darcy’s point of view)
Jane Austen Quote: “My real purpose was to see you, and to judge, if I could, whether I might ever hope to make you love me.” (Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 60)
Below is an excerpt:
Chapter 4: Second Thoughts
After his trip to Rosings, Darcy returned to London to collect Georgiana and his servants and they made the journey to Pemberley. Georgiana immediately noticed his sullen mood and uncharacteristic silence. Try as she might, she was quite unsuccessful in all attempts to gain any information from her brother about his trip. She was quite baffled by his behavior since he had mentioned no difficulties or unpleasantness in his letters. During their journey, she frequently expressed her concern about his sullen demeanor and his hesitation to discuss the details of his visit. However, her inquiries were answered with the shortest of responses, revealing only that their aunt and two cousins were much the same as they ever were.
A week after arriving at Pemberley, still having no information about the Rosings visit, she was determined to discover the cause of her brother’s changed demeanor. “Was anyone else in company with you at Rosings?” she inquired.
“Yes, Mr. and Mrs. Collins dined frequently with us – and his cousin,” Darcy replied.
This is the first Georgiana had heard of Mr. Collins’ cousin. “Was the cousin agreeable?” she asked, hoping for additional details.
“Yes, quite agreeable,” he replied, revealing very little information.
She recognized this as her brother’s tactic to end the line of questioning. “What is his name?” she asked, determined to know more.
“The cousin is Miss Elizabeth Bennet,” he replied, hesitating for a moment. “I mentioned her in my letters,” he added.
He had mentioned Miss Elizabeth sparingly in his letters and Georgiana was pleased beyond all imaginings to hear him mention her name. “How is Miss Elizabeth? I hope she is enjoying good health,” she pressed on. She recalled his mention of Miss Elizabeth in his letters from Hertfordshire last year and was well pleased that William had continued the connection.
“Yes, she is,” he replied. She waited patiently, offering an expectant expression and he continued. “We were in company on a number of occasions. We walked in the park on most mornings and she played the pianoforte after dinner on a number of evenings.”
She brightened upon hearing this. “That is wonderful news! Why did you not tell me sooner?” she asked feeling relieved.
“Miss Elizabeth is cross with me. She accused me of harming George Wickham,” he explained.
She became instantly alarmed. “Harming him? That is impossible! Does she not know of his history?” How it was even possible that anyone could accuse her brother of harming George Wickham was beyond her comprehension.
He shook his head. “No, indeed, at first she knew only of what Wickham had told her. She believed that I am to blame for his current state of near poverty.”
She was horrified at this reply and it pained her to hear that George had deceived another woman. She was comforted when he told her that he had informed Miss Elizabeth of his past offences against the Darcys. “I am glad that you told Miss Elizabeth. It means that you have formed an attachment to her. I must confess that I had hoped for such an attachment. Everything you told me about her caused me to believe that she would be a most excellent sister!” she told him.
“I must confess that I hoped for the same but it is of no consequence,” he replied, becoming sullen once again.
“Oh, but you must not disregard your attachment, William! Did Mama not tell you that you would know when you met the woman of your dreams?” she reminded him.
“Yes Georgiana, but I am not the man of her dreams,” he explained.
“What do you mean?” she asked. He shook his head. “What has happened, William?” she asked, determined to know the reason for William’s misery.
“I offered my hand and she refused me,” he replied.
She gasped upon hearing this and grasped his hand. The reason for his melancholy was now fully revealed. “Oh dear, I am terribly sorry, William! Did she give a reason for her refusal?” she asked.
“I suppose she was displeased with my address,” he quietly replied.
She was startled by this response. “What do you mean? What method did you employ?” she asked. He looked away and was silent. “Did you offer to her on bended knee?” she asked. He shook his head. “Did you declare yourself?” she asked.
“Yes, of course! I told her that I loved her despite the expectations of my family,” he replied.
“Expectations?” she asked in confusion.
“Yes, I am expected to marry a woman with exceptional circumstances and connections, similar to my own,” he explained. “But I disregarded my family obligations in favor of a woman of inferior circumstances.”
She became alarmed. “You did not mention her inferior circumstances, did you?” she asked with trepidation.
“I saw no reason to avoid the issue,” he replied.
“But William, she must have been so….. insulted,” she whispered hesitantly, disappointment slowly creeping into her heart.
He shook his head in disagreement: “Certainly not, I was merely stating the facts,” he replied.
She could no longer hide her displeasure. “Oh William! Why must you be so severe? You can be so exasperating at times! I shall never have a sister if you persist with such behavior!” she cried and ran out of the room.
“Perhaps I could have handled it better,” Darcy thought as he paced fretfully over the carpet in his study. “When I pointed out Miss Elizabeth’s shortcomings, it was perhaps unfortunate that I had employed that particular tactic with her; in hindsight, perhaps I should have taken another tactic.”
He recalled her angry words once more. I have bestowed my good opinion most unwillingly: Why did I withhold my good opinion? She has never done anything to deserve such an omission.
I ruined the happiness of a most beloved sister. When someone stole the happiness of my own sister, I lashed out at the offender, just as Miss Elizabeth has lashed out at me. Am I no better than Wickham?
My arrogance, conceit, selfish disdain for the feelings of others. Am I really as arrogant as she perceives? Does she think me selfish because of the Kympton living? Because of my interference with Charles? Or is it my reserved demeanor? Did I leave an equally bad impression with everyone in Hertfordshire?
I am the last man in the world she could be prevailed upon to marry. The last man in the world! The man who loves her and would do anything for her is the last man in the world that she would marry. How is this even possible?
Had I behaved in a more gentlemanly manner. I finally found a woman I could love, yet when I made my offer to her, I felt it necessary to point out our differences; her lack of fortune, her lack of connections, her family’s lack of propriety. A true gentleman would never have considered such degradation.
I could not have made the offer of my hand in any possible way that would have tempted her to accept me. Why did I not give my address more thought beforehand? If I had made a suitable offer, I would be looking forward to our wedding instead of steeping in misery.
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