In chapter 34, Darcy proposes to Elizabeth and this comes as a complete shock to her. This proposal and Elizabeth’s rejection portrays how she is completely blinded by her prejudice. The proposal also shows the hints of increasing affection in Darcy ever since Elizabeth nursed Jane; Elizabeth is clearly caught dumb by it. Austen does not make the situation in chapter 34 any simple of a dramatic irony, but she utilizes the scene to bring out or further flesh out her two main characters (Austen, 2004). The characterization of the characters is clearly brought out in the chapter as Elizabeth’s lively, daring nature, straightforward personality and disregard to consideration of rank vividly prevails in her rejection to the proposal. Her reaction reveals her pride and her lack of civility relies on prejudice and mistaken assumptions. Darcy’s pride and prejudice is also manifested in this chapter. In spite of Elizabeth’s failure of showing him any affection, she can figure out that he has no second thought of a favorable response. In this 34th chapter, which is the middle of the book, the reader can as well feels being at the climax of the story, Elizabeth does not only decline the proposal, but does so in a very harsh manner that marks the end of the relationship.
The development of the book entirely shows the path that Elizabeth takes towards self-awareness. Initially, in the first half of the book, readers are taken through series of events that leads to an establishment of the relationship. It is all about Elizabeth’s self-reflection; she is attracted to a different man-Wickham, who brings her false stories about Darcy (Austen, 2004). She does not realize that Darcy is an honorable man and allows prejudice to take a better control of her. Relationships develop in the first half before the disastrous proposal comes out of Mr Darcy’s mouth in chapter 34. Elizabeth is blinded by all these events and Wickham takes a better part of her mind. Wickham develops tactless gossip to destroy Darcy’s reputation and eventually yield as Elizabeth rejects Darcy’s proposal in a very unfashionable manner. Their attitudes were plainly based on pride and prejudice.
After chapter 34 in the second half of the book, everything starts getting clear for Elizabeth. She starts to reflect of her actions and realizes that she has been negatively driven and blinded by a negative prejudice that similar to the very prejudice she criticizes about Darcy (Austen, 2004). She realizes all of the tactless gossip and tricks Wickham has been using against Darcy and this opens her eyes to see Darcy’s honor. She learns Wickham’s attention to Miss King and reflects on Mrs. Gardiner’s warnings. She begins not just understanding everyone else differently, but also understanding herself differently. Later, she figures out how Darcy had interfered with the relationship between Bingley and Jane. It becomes funny that she surfers the exact thing that Charlotte Lucas had warned her about-about not being opened enough with her feelings (Austen, 2004).
After the proposal and the rejection, the relationship takes a negative shift. Elizabeth’s attitude changes to Darcy. Now she had known the truth about Darcy and all her destructive illusions and prejudice about Darcy has been dispelled. It seems that with all her discoveries, she may as well fall in love with him again and this reflects to Jane and Bingley too as Austen brings about the changes in Elizabeth so fast that readers are left with hopes about relationships reconstructions, and the ability of a person to improve.
Austen, Jane. (2004). Pride and Prejudice. New York: Simon and Schuster.