“To you I shall say, as I have often said before: Do not be in a hurry. The right man will come at last.”
That’s what Jane Austen told her niece Fanny Knight in a letter.
Well said, Jane!
Waiting for the right man is the theme of all of her novels. She has provided us with great examples of true heroines: women who wait for true love — and work on becoming better women while they wait for Mr. Right.
Through her witty plotlines, Jane Austen gives us deep insights on courtship and marriage. She champions marriages that foster the development of love, such as those of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy and Jane and Mr. Bingley in Pride and Prejudice.
That’s not to say there’s no courtship strife. Romantic comedy, Jane Austen style is the best. But the drama gives way to love — and self-improvement.
No More Pride and Prejudice
For example, Lizzy and Darcy, as their opinions of each other change, try to better themselves for the other. After Lizzy’s rejection of him, Darcy is compelled to explain his motives for dissuading Bingley’s attachment to Jane and his behavior toward Wickham. His search for Lydia and Wickham proves beyond a doubt his love for Elizabeth. The utter contempt he feels for Wickham (rightly so, given the scoundrel’s attempt to seduce his sister) would have ordinarily kept him in a silent, unresponsive stupor. But his love and esteem for Lizzy lead him to take action. As he tells her, “That the wish of giving happiness to you might add force to the other inducements which led me on, I shall not attempt to deny. … I thought only of you.”
When Lizzy accepts his second proposal (which is much more romantic; thanks Jane!), Darcy pours out his heart, rejoicing in her love for him. For Darcy, love helps him become a better person, more attuned to his own feelings and those around him.
She softens his pride, as his actions help her overcome her inclination to prejudice. Elizabeth comes to see those around her in a new light, particularly Darcy. Her love for him deepens when she reads his letter, visits Pemberly, and learns from her aunt the complete account of his role in Lydia’s marriage to Wickham. She is overwhelmed when she realizes she had grossly misjudged Darcy and Wickham. This revelation prompts her self-discovery: “Till this moment I never knew myself.”
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