• Raymond Wilson
Part of the Macmillan Master Guides book series


The first two chapters give the marriage theme a good airing. It is in the third chapter, when they attend the ball at Meryton, that Elizabeth and Darcy, hero and heroine, meet; but at their first encounter, Darcy seems cast more as anti-hero or villain than hero. He personifies the pride of the title when in reply to Bingley’s suggestion that he should dance with Elizabeth, he replies with inexcusable arrogance:

…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.

Still less excusably, he says this loudly enough to ensure that Elizabeth hears it, and although she laughs it off, the insult rankles with her and is the source of the persistent prejudice she bears towards him. This contrived eavesdropping on which the whole plot depends is clumsy and strains our credulity more than anything else in a novel that is otherwise virtually perfect in its construction and truth to nature, and therefore refreshingly different from the far-fetched, unrealistic fiction of the period.


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© Raymond Wilson 1985

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  • Raymond Wilson

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