Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Proposal

It will not do. In vain have I struggled. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.

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(Elizabeth is stunned and speechless)

These last weeks since I left Netherfield you have preyed on my mind. But try as I might, my inclination cannot over come my judgement. The inferiority of your family and that of their connections have made me fully aware of the many obstacles involved in this attachment. I know that loving you goes against reason, and that my family will be horrified by the connection, but I cannot help myself. I have fought and fought, and in spite of all my endeavours, I have been unable to conquer my feelings for you. I can no longer struggle against you. My sense of position, my obligations of family seem as nothing against my love for you. (takes her hand and kisses it passionately). I love you.

Elizabeth: Mr Darcy, do you know what you are saying?

Darcy Yes, my darling, I am asking you to marry me.

Elizabeth: In such cases as this, it is usual, I believe, to express a sense of obligation for the sentiments expressed, however unequally they may be returned. If I could , I would thank you, but I have never desired your good opinion, and you have bestowed it most unwillingly. The pain I inflict will, I trust be of short duration.

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Darcy: Is this all the reply I am to have? I might ask why I have been rejected with so little attempt at civility?

Elizabeth: I might well inquire, with so evident a design of insulting me, you chose to tell me that you liked me, against your will, against your reason and even against your character? That I ought to congratulate myself on the outcome of the battle between your unwilling affection and my unworthiness. But that aside, do you think any consideration would tempt me to accept the hand of the man who has been the means of ruining my beloved sister's happiness? The sweetest, kindest girl who ever lived. I have every reason to think ill of you. You cannot deny that you divided them from each other.

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Darcy: I have no wish of denying I did everything in my power to separate my friend from your sister. Towards him I have been kinder than towards myself.

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Elizabeth: It is not only this. What have you to say on the subject of Mr Wickham, how can you defend yourself here?

Darcy: You take an eager interest in the gentleman's concerns.

Elizabeth: Those who know what his misfortunes have been cannot help feeling an interest in him.

Darcy: (contemptuously) His misfortunes!

Elizabeth: You have reduced him to poverty through vengeance.

Darcy This is your opinion of me! This is the estimation in which you hold me! I thank you for explaining it so fully. Perhaps you might have overlooked these faults had not your pride been hurt by my honest confession of my scruples. But I am not ashamed of my struggle, it was natural and just. Could you expect me to rejoice in the inferiority of your connections? To congratulate myself on the hope of relations whose condition in life is so decidedly beneath my own. I was paying you the compliment of being honest.

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Elizabeth: Honesty is a greatly overrated virtue and you are mistaken Mr Darcy, if you suppose that the mode of your proposal affected me in any other way than as it spared me the concern I might have felt in refusing you, had you behaved in a more gentleman-like manner. (Pause) From the very beginning, you have impressed me with you arrogance, your conceit and your selfish disdain, and I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world I could ever be prevailed upon to marry.

Darcy: You have said quite enough madam. I perfectly understand your feelings, and have now only to be ashamed of what my own have been. Forgive me for taking up so much of your time, and accept my best wishes for your health and happiness.

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(He exits, and Elizabeth is between tears and exasperation)

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