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72 Cards in this Set

  • Front
  • Back
home of the Bennets
Longbourn
home of Mr. Bingley
Netherfield Park
home of the Lucas's
Lucas Lodge
within Hertfordshire
Longbourn, Netherfield, Lucas Lodge, Meryton, Oakham Mount, the town of ----
within Derbyshire
Pemberley, Lambton, Kympton, Blenheim
within Kent
Westerham, Ramsgate, Hunsford, Rosings
within Sussex
Brighton
Ramsgate
sea-side resort where Georgiana spent a summer
Lambton
former residence of Mrs. Gardiner
Kympton
where Wickham was to be clergyman
the estate of the Duke of Marlborough
Blenheim
the famous ruined castle of Kenilworth
Warwick
the residence of Lady Catherine
Rosings
where Mr. Collins is rector
Hunsford
where Elizabeth and Darcy walk
Oakham Mount
Who is Mrs Annesley?
friend of Georgiana
Who is the Captain of the ---shire militia?
Captain Carter
The fourth Bennet sister; she is enthralled with the soldiers. Kitty seems to have little personality of her own, but simply to act as a shadow to Lydia, following Lydia's lead in whatever she does. The end of the novel provides hope that Lydia's character will improve by being removed from the society of Lydia and her mother and being taken care of primarily by Jane and Elizabeth.
Catherine Bennet
protagonist; second daughter of Mr. Bennet, most intelligent and sensible of the five Bennet sisters; well read and quick-witted; Her realization of Darcy’s essential goodness eventually triumphs over her initial prejudice against him. As she gradually comes to recognize the nobility of Darcy’s character, she realizes the error of her initial prejudice against him. In spite of her mistake in misjudging Wickham and Darcy, and her more blamable fault of sticking stubbornly to that judgment until forced to see her error, Elizabeth is usually right about people. For example, she painfully recognizes the inappropriate behavior of most of her family, and she quickly identifies Mr. Collins as a fool and Lady Catherine as a tyrant. However, this ability to size people up leads her too far at times. She proceeds from reasonable first impressions of Darcy and Wickham to definite and wrong conclusions about their characters. Her confidence in her own discernment—a combination of both pride and prejudice—is what leads her into her worst errors.
Elizabeth Bennet
eldest and most beautiful sister; more reserved and gentler than Elizabeth. The easy pleasantness with which she and Bingley interact contrasts with the sparring that marks the encounters between Elizabeth and Darcy; Jane’s desire to see only the best in people becomes rather extreme at times, as in her disbelief that Wickham could be a liar, but she is not so entrenched in her world view that her opinion cannot be changed. When Jane finally recognizes Miss Bingley’s insincerity, she stops making excuses for her and does not pursue the friendship. However, when she and Miss Bingley become sisters-in-law, Jane’s good nature causes her to receive Miss Bingley’s friendly overtures with more responsiveness than Miss Bingley deserves. Jane is a static character as she is basically a model of virtue from the beginning, there is no room for her to develop in the novel.
Jane Bennet
the youngest sister; gossipy, immature, and self-involved. Unlike Elizabeth, Lydia flings herself headlong into romance and ends up running off with Wickham.
Lydia Bennet
the middle sister; bookish and pedantic; The third oldest of the Bennet sisters, Mary is strangely solemn and pedantic. She dislikes going out into society, and to prefers to spend her time studying. In conversation, Mary is constantly moralizing or trying to make profound observations about human nature and life in general.
Mary Bennet
the patriarch of the family; gentleman of modest income who has a sarcastic, cynical sense of humor that he uses to irritate his wife. Though he loves his daughters, especially Elizabeth, he often withdraws from the marriage concerns of women rather than offer help; made the mistake of marrying a foolish woman. He takes refuge in his books and seems to want nothing more than to be bothered as little as possible by his family. His indolence leads to the neglect of the education of daughters. Even when Elizabeth warns him not to allow Lydia to go to Brighton because of the moral danger of the situation, he does not listen to her because he does not want to be bothered with Lydia's complaints.
Mr. Bennet
Darcy’s wealthy best friend; genial, well-intentioned gentleman whose easy going nature contrasts with Darcy’s initially discourteous desmeanor. He is blissfully oblivious to class differences; Bingley is very modest and easily swayed by the advice of his friends, as seen in his decision not to propose to Jane as a result of Darcy's belief that Jane is not really attached to him. Also like Jane, Bingley lacks serious character faults and is thus static throughout the novel. His character and his love for Jane remain constant; the only thing that changes is the advice of Darcy, which leads him not to propose to Jane in the beginning of the novel but to propose to her in the end.
Charles Bingley
Bingley’s snobbish sister; she disdains the Bennet’s middle class background. Her vain attempts to attract Darcy’s attention make Darcy admire Elizabeth’s self possession even more; Miss Bingley is a superficial and selfish. She has all of Darcy's class prejudice but none of his honor and virtue. Throughout the novel she panders to Darcy in an attempt to win his affections, but to no avail. She pretends to be a genuine friend to Jane but is extremely rude to her when she comes to London. She also tries to prevent the marriage of Jane and Bingley and to prevent Darcy's attachment to Elizabeth by constantly ridiculing the poor manners of Elizabeth's mother and younger sisters.
Miss Caroline Bingley
rich, bossy noblewoman; Mr. Collin’s patron and Darcy’s aunt, is extremely snobbish; Lady Catherine epitomizes class snobbery, especially in her attempts to order the middle-class Elizabeth away from her well-bred nephew
Lady Catherine de Bourgh
a pompous, idiotic clergyman who stands to inherit Mr. Bennet’s property. His own social status is unimpressive, but he takes great pains to let everyone know that Lady Catherine is his patroness.He is the worst combination of snobbish and obsequious.
Mr. Collins
wealthy gentleman, master of Pemberley, and nephew of Lady Catherine de Bourgh; intelligent and honest, yet his pride makes him look down on his social inferiors. Over the course of the novel, he tempers his class-consciousness and learns to admire and love Elizabeth for her strong character. Elizabeth’s male counterpart. The narrator relates Elizabeth’s point of view of events more often than Darcy’s, so Elizabeth often seems a more sympathetic figure. The reader eventually realizes, however, that Darcy is her ideal match. Intelligent and forthright, he too has a tendency to judge too hastily and harshly, and his high birth and wealth make him overly proud and overly conscious of his social status. Indeed, his haughtiness makes him initially bungle his courtship. When he proposes to her, for instance, he dwells more on how unsuitable a match she is than on her charms, beauty, or anything else complimentary. Her rejection of his advances builds a kind of humility in him. Darcy demonstrates his continued devotion to Elizabeth, in spite of his distaste for her low connections, when he rescues Lydia and the entire Bennet family from disgrace, and when he goes against the wishes of his haughty aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, by continuing to pursue Elizabeth. Darcy proves himself worthy of Elizabeth, and she ends up repenting her earlier, overly harsh judgment of him. Darcy is not actually a titled nobleman, but he is one of the wealthiest members of the landed gentry—the same legal class that Elizabeth’s much poorer family belongs to. While Darcy’s sense of social superiority offends people, it also promotes some of his better traits.
Fitzwilliam Darcy
Darcy’s sister; very pretty and very shy; She has great skill at playing the pianoforte. she is Darcy's sister and is ten years his junior.
Georgiana Darcy
Mrs. Bennet’s brother and sister-in-law; caring nurturing, and full of common sense, often prove to be better parents to the daughters than Mr. Bennet and his wife.
Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner
Elizabeth’s dear friend, and eventually Mr. Collins’s wife; pragmatic where Elizabeth is romantic, she does not view love as the most vital component of a marriage, more interested in having a comfortable home; Charlotte acts as a foil to Elizabeth by embodying the opposite view of marriage. Charlotte makes no attempt to find a husband whom she loves and esteems, but simply gives in to the necessity of acquiring financial security through marriage. She deals as well with Mr. Collins as is possible, but Elizabeth doubts their long-term happiness.
Charlotte Lucas
handsome, fortune-hunting militia office; charming scoundrel; Wickham’s good looks and charm attract Elizabeth initially, but Darcy’s revelation about Wickham’s disreputable past clues her in to his true nature and simultaneously draws her closer to Darcy. His true nature begins to show itself through his attachment to Miss King for purely mercenary purposes and then through Darcy's exposition of his past and through his elopement with Lydia, deceiving her to believe that he intends to marry her.
George Wickham
“Ten thousand a year! Oh, Lord! What will become of me! I shall go distracted!”
Mrs. Bennet
“Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance.”
Charlotte Lucas
“I have been meditating on the very great pleasure which a pair of fine eyes in the face of a pretty woman can bestow.”
Darcy
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
Narrator; 1st sentence of book.
• Sets the plot in action
• Miniature sketch of entire novel
• When Austen says that it is a truth universally acknowledged that every man wants to marry, she means that it is not a universal truth at all, but a desperate hope on the part of parent, especially mothers, who long to marry their daughters to rich men. These parents assume the truth is universal because to admit that some men are not interested in marriage would be to narrow the field of prospective husbands in a terrifying way
“Which do you mean?” and turning round, he looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till catching her eye, he withdrew his own and coldly said, “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. You had better return to your partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me.”
Darcy; at the Meryton Ball; 3rd chapter
successor to Mrs. Bennet’s father in business.
Mr. Phillips
A pleasant but not overly deep or intellectual man, he is a friend of the Bennet family. He is civil but his conversation is basically limited to empty observations and descriptions of his presentation and knighthood. Elizabeth accompanies him and his younger daughter Maria to visit Charlotte.
Sir William Lucas
Charlotte's younger sister, she is as empty-headed as her father. Her only role in the novel is to travel with Elizabeth and Sir William to visit Charlotte.
Maria Lucas
Bingley's other sister, her character basically matches that of her sister Caroline. She seems to have no real affection or esteem for her husband.
Mrs. Hurst
An indolent man, he does almost nothing but eat and entertain himself by playing cards. He never says an intelligent word in the entire novel, and seems to be concerned only with the quality of the food.
Mr. Hurst
a frail, weak and sickly child who is extremely pampered by Lady Catherine. She speaks little in the novel but seems to be generally good-natured. Lady Catherine had wanted Darcy to marry her
Miss Anne de Bourgh
A cousin of Mr. Darcy and a pleasant and amiable gentleman, he is a companion to Elizabeth during her stay with the Collinses. Colonel Fitzwilliam tells Elizabeth that he must marry someone with a large fortune because he is the second son, the first case in the novel where a man's marriage choices are constrained by financial need.
Colonel Fitzwilliam
An intelligent, caring and sensible woman, Mrs. Gardiner acts a mother to Elizabeth and Jane, filling in for the inadequacy of Mrs. Bennet. She brings Jane to London with her in order to help cheer her up when she is heartbroken because of Bingley's failure to return to Netherfield, and she advises Elizabeth to avoid encouraging Wickham's affections. She attempts to help Lydia see why her elopement with Wickham was wrong, but Lydia is completely inattentive.
Mrs. Gardiner
Mr. Gardiner is a merchant, and is an upright and intelligent man. The fact that he earns his money by working puts him in a lower social class than those who simply live off the interest of their land. Like his wife, Mr. Gardiner is one of those people whom Austen portrays as a natural aristocrat, and whom Darcy comes to like after overcoming his class prejudice.
Mr. Gardiner
is Mrs. Bennet's sister, and shares her sister's foolishness and frivolity. She lives in Meryton, and the Bennet sisters, particularly Lydia and Kitty, often visit her in order to socialize with the officers.
Mrs. Phillips
“Ten thousand a year! Oh, Lord! What will become of me! I shall go distracted!”
Mrs. Bennet
“Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance.”
Charlotte Lucas
“I have been meditating on the very great pleasure which a pair of fine eyes in the face of a pretty woman can bestow.”
Darcy
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
Narrator; 1st sentence of book.
• Sets the plot in action
• Miniature sketch of entire novel
• When Austen says that it is a truth universally acknowledged that every man wants to marry, she means that it is not a universal truth at all, but a desperate hope on the part of parent, especially mothers, who long to marry their daughters to rich men. These parents assume the truth is universal because to admit that some men are not interested in marriage would be to narrow the field of prospective husbands in a terrifying way
“Which do you mean?” and turning round, he looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till catching her eye, he withdrew his own and coldly said, “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. You had better return to your partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me.”
Darcy; at the Meryton Ball; 3rd chapter
successor to Mrs. Bennet’s father in business.
Mr. Phillips
A pleasant but not overly deep or intellectual man, he is a friend of the Bennet family. He is civil but his conversation is basically limited to empty observations and descriptions of his presentation and knighthood. Elizabeth accompanies him and his younger daughter Maria to visit Charlotte.
Sir William Lucas
Charlotte's younger sister, she is as empty-headed as her father. Her only role in the novel is to travel with Elizabeth and Sir William to visit Charlotte.
Maria Lucas
Bingley's other sister, her character basically matches that of her sister Caroline. She seems to have no real affection or esteem for her husband.
Mrs. Hurst
An indolent man, he does almost nothing but eat and entertain himself by playing cards. He never says an intelligent word in the entire novel, and seems to be concerned only with the quality of the food.
Mr. Hurst
a frail, weak and sickly child who is extremely pampered by Lady Catherine. She speaks little in the novel but seems to be generally good-natured. Lady Catherine had wanted Darcy to marry her
Miss Anne de Bourgh
A cousin of Mr. Darcy and a pleasant and amiable gentleman, he is a companion to Elizabeth during her stay with the Collinses. Colonel Fitzwilliam tells Elizabeth that he must marry someone with a large fortune because he is the second son, the first case in the novel where a man's marriage choices are constrained by financial need.
Colonel Fitzwilliam
An intelligent, caring and sensible woman, Mrs. Gardiner acts a mother to Elizabeth and Jane, filling in for the inadequacy of Mrs. Bennet. She brings Jane to London with her in order to help cheer her up when she is heartbroken because of Bingley's failure to return to Netherfield, and she advises Elizabeth to avoid encouraging Wickham's affections. She attempts to help Lydia see why her elopement with Wickham was wrong, but Lydia is completely inattentive.
Mrs. Gardiner
Mr. Gardiner is a merchant, and is an upright and intelligent man. The fact that he earns his money by working puts him in a lower social class than those who simply live off the interest of their land. Like his wife, Mr. Gardiner is one of those people whom Austen portrays as a natural aristocrat, and whom Darcy comes to like after overcoming his class prejudice.
Mr. Gardiner
is Mrs. Bennet's sister, and shares her sister's foolishness and frivolity. She lives in Meryton, and the Bennet sisters, particularly Lydia and Kitty, often visit her in order to socialize with the officers.
Mrs. Phillips
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
This is the first sentence of Pride and Prejudice and stands as one of the most famous first lines in literature. Even as it briskly introduces the arrival of Mr. Bingley at Netherfield, the event that sets the novel in motion, this sentence also offers a miniature sketch of the entire plot, which concerns itself with the pursuit of “single men in possession of a good fortune” by various female characters. The preoccupation with socially advantageous marriage in nineteenth-century English society manifests itself here, for in claiming that a single man “must be in want of a wife,” the narrator reveals that the reverse is also true: a single woman, whose socially prescribed options are quite limited, is in (perhaps desperate) want of a husband.
“Which do you mean?” and turning round, he looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till catching her eye, he withdrew his own and coldly said, “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. You had better return to your partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me.”
These words describe Darcy’s reaction at the Meryton ball in Chapter 3 to Bingley’s suggestion that he dance with Elizabeth. Darcy, who sees the people of Meryton as his social inferiors, haughtily refuses to condescend to dancing with someone “not handsome enough” for him. Moreover, he does so within Elizabeth’s hearing, thereby establishing a reputation among the entire community for pride and bad manners. His sense of social superiority, artfully exposed in this passing comment, later proves his chief difficulty in admitting his love for Elizabeth. The rudeness with which Darcy treats Elizabeth creates a negative impression of him in her mind, one that will linger for nearly half of the novel, until the underlying nobility of his character is gradually revealed to her.
“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” Elizabeth’s astonishment was beyond expression. She stared, coloured, doubted, and was silent. This he considered sufficient encouragement, and the avowal of all that he felt and had long felt for her, immediately followed. He spoke well, but there were feelings besides those of the heart to be detailed, and he was not more eloquent on the subject of tenderness than of pride. His sense of her inferiority—of its being a degradation—of the family obstacles which judgment had always opposed to inclination, were dwelt on with a warmth which seemed due to the consequence he was wounding, but was very unlikely to recommend his suit.
Darcy’s proposal of marriage to Elizabeth in Chapter 34 demonstrates how his feelings toward her transformed since his earlier dismissal of her as “not handsome enough.” While Elizabeth rejects his proposal, this event marks the turning point in the novel. Before Darcy asks Elizabeth to marry him, she feels only contempt for him; afterward, she begins to see him in a new light, as certain incidents help illustrate the essential goodness of his character. At this moment, however, Elizabeth’s eventual change of heart remains unforeseen—all she thinks of is Darcy’s arrogance, his attempts to interfere in Bingley’s courtship of Jane, and his alleged mistreatment of Wickham. Her judgment of Darcy stems from her initial prejudice against his snobbishness, just as his pride about his high social status hampers his attempt to express his affection. As the above quote makes clear, he spends more time emphasizing her lower rank and unsuitability for marriage to him than he does complimenting her or pledging his love. “He was not more eloquent on the subject of tenderness than of pride,” the narrator states; Darcy must -prioritize love over his sense of superiority before he is worthy of Elizabeth’s hand.
They gradually ascended for half a mile, and then found themselves at the top of a considerable eminence, where the wood ceased, and the eye was instantly caught by Pemberley House, situated on the opposite side of a valley, into which the road with some abruptness wound. It was a large, handsome, stone building, standing well on rising ground, and backed by a ridge of high woody hills;—and in front, a stream of some natural importance was swelled into greater, but without any artificial appearance. Its banks were neither formal, nor falsely adorned. Elizabeth was delighted. She had never seen a place where nature had done more, or where natural beauty had been so little counteracted by an awkward taste. They were all of them warm in her admiration; and at that moment she felt that to be mistress of Pemberley might be something!
These lines open Chapter 43 and provide Elizabeth’s introduction to Darcy’s grand estate at Pemberley. Her visit to Darcy’s home, which occupies a central place in the narrative, operates as a catalyst for her growing attraction toward its owner. In her conversations with the housekeeper, Mrs. Reynolds, Elizabeth hears testimonials of Darcy’s wonderful generosity and his kindness as a master; when she encounters Darcy himself, while walking through Pemberley’s grounds, he seems altogether changed and his previous arrogance has diminished remarkably. This initial description of the building and grounds at Pemberley serves as a symbol of Darcy’s character. The “stream of some natural importance . . . swelled into greater” reminds the reader of his pride, but the fact that it lacks “any artificial appearance” indicates his basic honesty, as does the fact that the stream is neither “formal, nor falsely adorned.” Elizabeth’s delight, and her sudden epiphany about the pleasure that being mistress of Pemberley must hold, prefigure her later joy in Darcy’s continued devotion.
Elizabeth was much too embarrassed to say a word. After a short pause, her companion added, “You are too generous to trifle with me. If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes are unchanged, but one word from you will silence me on this subject forever.” Elizabeth feeling all the more than common awkwardness and anxiety of his situation, now forced herself to speak; and immediately, though not very fluently, gave him to understand, that her sentiments had undergone so material a change, since the period to which he alluded, as to make her receive with gratitude and pleasure, his present assurances.
This proposal and Elizabeth’s acceptance mark the climax of the novel, occurring in Chapter 58. Austen famously prefers not to stage successful proposals in full, and the reader may be disappointed in the anticlimactic manner in which the narrator relates Elizabeth’s acceptance. It is important to remember, however, that the proposal and acceptance are almost a foregone conclusion by this point. Darcy’s intervention on behalf of Lydia makes obvious his continuing devotion to Elizabeth, and the shocking appearance of Lady Catherine de Bourgh in the previous chapter, with her haughty attempts to forestall the engagement, serves to suggest strongly that a second proposal from Darcy is imminent.
The clunky language with which the narrator summarizes Elizabeth’s acceptance serves a specific purpose, as it captures the one moment of joyful incoherence for this supremely well-spoken character. She accepts Darcy’s proposal “immediately,” the narrator relates, but “not very fluently.” As Elizabeth allows herself to admit that her love has supplanted her long-standing prejudice, her control of language breaks down. The reader is left to imagine, with some delight, the ever-clever Elizabeth fumbling for words to express her irrepressible happiness.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
This is the first sentence of Pride and Prejudice and stands as one of the most famous first lines in literature. Even as it briskly introduces the arrival of Mr. Bingley at Netherfield, the event that sets the novel in motion, this sentence also offers a miniature sketch of the entire plot, which concerns itself with the pursuit of “single men in possession of a good fortune” by various female characters. The preoccupation with socially advantageous marriage in nineteenth-century English society manifests itself here, for in claiming that a single man “must be in want of a wife,” the narrator reveals that the reverse is also true: a single woman, whose socially prescribed options are quite limited, is in (perhaps desperate) want of a husband.
“Which do you mean?” and turning round, he looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till catching her eye, he withdrew his own and coldly said, “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. You had better return to your partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me.”
These words describe Darcy’s reaction at the Meryton ball in Chapter 3 to Bingley’s suggestion that he dance with Elizabeth. Darcy, who sees the people of Meryton as his social inferiors, haughtily refuses to condescend to dancing with someone “not handsome enough” for him. Moreover, he does so within Elizabeth’s hearing, thereby establishing a reputation among the entire community for pride and bad manners. His sense of social superiority, artfully exposed in this passing comment, later proves his chief difficulty in admitting his love for Elizabeth. The rudeness with which Darcy treats Elizabeth creates a negative impression of him in her mind, one that will linger for nearly half of the novel, until the underlying nobility of his character is gradually revealed to her.
“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” Elizabeth’s astonishment was beyond expression. She stared, coloured, doubted, and was silent. This he considered sufficient encouragement, and the avowal of all that he felt and had long felt for her, immediately followed. He spoke well, but there were feelings besides those of the heart to be detailed, and he was not more eloquent on the subject of tenderness than of pride. His sense of her inferiority—of its being a degradation—of the family obstacles which judgment had always opposed to inclination, were dwelt on with a warmth which seemed due to the consequence he was wounding, but was very unlikely to recommend his suit.
Darcy’s proposal of marriage to Elizabeth in Chapter 34 demonstrates how his feelings toward her transformed since his earlier dismissal of her as “not handsome enough.” While Elizabeth rejects his proposal, this event marks the turning point in the novel. Before Darcy asks Elizabeth to marry him, she feels only contempt for him; afterward, she begins to see him in a new light, as certain incidents help illustrate the essential goodness of his character. At this moment, however, Elizabeth’s eventual change of heart remains unforeseen—all she thinks of is Darcy’s arrogance, his attempts to interfere in Bingley’s courtship of Jane, and his alleged mistreatment of Wickham. Her judgment of Darcy stems from her initial prejudice against his snobbishness, just as his pride about his high social status hampers his attempt to express his affection. As the above quote makes clear, he spends more time emphasizing her lower rank and unsuitability for marriage to him than he does complimenting her or pledging his love. “He was not more eloquent on the subject of tenderness than of pride,” the narrator states; Darcy must -prioritize love over his sense of superiority before he is worthy of Elizabeth’s hand.
They gradually ascended for half a mile, and then found themselves at the top of a considerable eminence, where the wood ceased, and the eye was instantly caught by Pemberley House, situated on the opposite side of a valley, into which the road with some abruptness wound. It was a large, handsome, stone building, standing well on rising ground, and backed by a ridge of high woody hills;—and in front, a stream of some natural importance was swelled into greater, but without any artificial appearance. Its banks were neither formal, nor falsely adorned. Elizabeth was delighted. She had never seen a place where nature had done more, or where natural beauty had been so little counteracted by an awkward taste. They were all of them warm in her admiration; and at that moment she felt that to be mistress of Pemberley might be something!
These lines open Chapter 43 and provide Elizabeth’s introduction to Darcy’s grand estate at Pemberley. Her visit to Darcy’s home, which occupies a central place in the narrative, operates as a catalyst for her growing attraction toward its owner. In her conversations with the housekeeper, Mrs. Reynolds, Elizabeth hears testimonials of Darcy’s wonderful generosity and his kindness as a master; when she encounters Darcy himself, while walking through Pemberley’s grounds, he seems altogether changed and his previous arrogance has diminished remarkably. This initial description of the building and grounds at Pemberley serves as a symbol of Darcy’s character. The “stream of some natural importance . . . swelled into greater” reminds the reader of his pride, but the fact that it lacks “any artificial appearance” indicates his basic honesty, as does the fact that the stream is neither “formal, nor falsely adorned.” Elizabeth’s delight, and her sudden epiphany about the pleasure that being mistress of Pemberley must hold, prefigure her later joy in Darcy’s continued devotion.
Elizabeth was much too embarrassed to say a word. After a short pause, her companion added, “You are too generous to trifle with me. If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes are unchanged, but one word from you will silence me on this subject forever.” Elizabeth feeling all the more than common awkwardness and anxiety of his situation, now forced herself to speak; and immediately, though not very fluently, gave him to understand, that her sentiments had undergone so material a change, since the period to which he alluded, as to make her receive with gratitude and pleasure, his present assurances.
This proposal and Elizabeth’s acceptance mark the climax of the novel, occurring in Chapter 58. Austen famously prefers not to stage successful proposals in full, and the reader may be disappointed in the anticlimactic manner in which the narrator relates Elizabeth’s acceptance. It is important to remember, however, that the proposal and acceptance are almost a foregone conclusion by this point. Darcy’s intervention on behalf of Lydia makes obvious his continuing devotion to Elizabeth, and the shocking appearance of Lady Catherine de Bourgh in the previous chapter, with her haughty attempts to forestall the engagement, serves to suggest strongly that a second proposal from Darcy is imminent.
The clunky language with which the narrator summarizes Elizabeth’s acceptance serves a specific purpose, as it captures the one moment of joyful incoherence for this supremely well-spoken character. She accepts Darcy’s proposal “immediately,” the narrator relates, but “not very fluently.” As Elizabeth allows herself to admit that her love has supplanted her long-standing prejudice, her control of language breaks down. The reader is left to imagine, with some delight, the ever-clever Elizabeth fumbling for words to express her irrepressible happiness.