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The Marriage of Darcy and Elizabeth

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.”
Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet
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

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