The Marriage of Darcy and Elizabeth Posted on

The Marriage of Darcy and Elizabeth

Share this: One Reader’s Response It is a truth universally acknowledged that upon turning the last page of Pride and Prejudice the reader feels joy at seeing Elizabeth and Darcy married, but upon closer examination can the reader admit reservations? Professor Wallace is content with the assertion that Austen (just like Mozart) wrote in a classical (or neoclassical) style in which the comic ending was conventional. But isn’t a happy ending a kind of escapist fantasy? I will a priori set aside minor factors which might account cumulatively for the reader’s happiness at the end: in her study entitled Jane Austen on Love, Juliet McMaster asserts for example: “In a discussion of the erotic response of Jane Austen’s women to men, it is worth considering her use of the rescue, which is often a stimulus to love.” To what extent do the readers of Pride and Prejudice respond to this or to Darcy’s open manifestation of physical attraction to Elizabeth? Such a question would be interesting to answer but it is beyond the scope of this essay. Will modern, skeptical readers unwilling to accept the fairytale ending look for problems over which Jane Austen might have glossed? Is the excitement the reader feels at the satisfying conclusion to be tempered with sober yet cynical thoughts about what marriage really entails and what experience teaches us? Or does the very unreality of a happy marriage become a satiric reflection on the very real limitations of society and individuals? It appears reasonable

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