AD's English Literature : Character and Role of Fitzwilliam Darcy in Jane Austen‘s novel Pride and Prejudice

Character and Role of Fitzwilliam Darcy in Jane Austen‘s novel Pride and Prejudice

           
Fitzwilliam Darcy is the hero of Jane Austen‘s novel Pride and Prejudice. The ups and downs in the romance between Darcy and Elizabeth form the principal interest of the novel. The pride of Darcy gives rise to the Prejudice of Elizabeth and the complications of the plot are due to the increasing prejudice of Elizabeth against Darcy. Most interestingly with the mingling of positive and negative traits, Darcy seems deeply human. 

Darcy is quite conscious of his standing in society. He is one of the gentry inheriting a fortune and so he is the most adorable young man of the then time England. That consciousness makes him stuffy and grave and his pride tends to hurt others. Being an exceedingly self-impressed figure, he refrains from speaking in light vain and dislikes small talk. An aristocrat with an enormous fortune his pride seems to have determined his attitude to others. At the Meryton ball his pride comes into focus light when he remarks derogatorily about Elizabeth and the other women that “she is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me.” He rudely refrains from dancing at a ball and maintains a dignified exclusiveness from ordinary society. We never see him familiar and amiable in his ways. He can not escape from the consciousness of his superior position. It is his superiority that creates the tension between Elizabeth and Darcy from the very beginning of the novel.

Darcy is an ideal master, an excellent brother and a generous and good natured gentleman. His great folly is to prevent his friend. Here his only concern is to dissuade his friend from counting one who does not love him. There is no malice and wickedness in what he does. We don’t find any hypocrisy in his dealing with others. Even when Wickham elopes with Lydia he does everything to end the disgrace in an honourable marriage and to do all these secretly.

Darcy’s love for Elizabeth is genuine and his sincerity can not be questioned. Though in his appearances he is found to be in conflict with Elizabeth, his emotional involvement intensifies his attachment to her. Since his first meeting with her he considers himself superior. However, he finds that Elizabeth's intelligent expression is 'beautiful.' This consciousness brings him closer to her. He falls in love with her against his wishes—despite detesting her bumptious mother, despite erroneously distrusting her older sister Jane, despite disdaining her family's modest means, and despite detecting Elizabeth's thinly veiled hostility.  Buying time Darcy realizes that Elizabeth is her equal for, in his family too there are vulgar people like arrogant Lady Catherine who expects him to marry within the aristocracy. Thus his pride is humble and curable.

Darcy has no respect for silly ceremonies and state conventions. He hates vulgarity and prides himself with or being discerning. He appears at the first as rude one but slowly and gradually he starts changing. He may be an egoist but he is good and gentle. He is gradually cured of his egoism under the influence of love. Darcy always stands apart from the other character of the novel and his development is psychological one. The conflict between pride and prejudice is resolved as the two central characters namely Darcy and Elizabeth understand them. The plot of the novel moves on with the development of the relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy. The final union of Elizabeth and Darcy symbolizes the intricate relationships of the character.

Regarding Darcy’s character Darcy himself is the best judge. From Darcy’s account we come to know “I have been a selfish being all my life… As a child I was taught what was right, but I was not to correct my temper…… Such I was from eight to eight and twenty and such I might still have been for you, dearest, loveliest Elizabeth! What do I not owe! You tought me a lesson hard indeed at first, but most advantageous. But you, I saw properly humbled”.



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An English Teacher;    M. A.(English) , D. Ed., B. Ed., UGC- NET Qualified

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