Books Are Nice Week continues with an excerpt from Pride and Prejudice. It occurred to us recently that it’s probably one of the most, if not the most, important scene in the novel: the confrontation between Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Elizabeth Bennet in the prettyish little wilderness at Longbourn.
“I will not be interrupted. Hear me in silence. My daughter and my nephew are formed for each other. They are descended, on the maternal side, from the same noble line; and, on the father’s, from respectable, honourable, and ancient — though untitled — families. Their fortune on both sides is splendid. They are destined for each other by the voice of every member of their respective houses; and what is to divide them? The upstart pretensions of a young woman without family, connections, or fortune. Is this to be endured! But it must not, shall not be. If you were sensible of your own good, you would not wish to quit the sphere in which you have been brought up.”
“In marrying your nephew, I should not consider myself as quitting that sphere. He is a gentleman; I am a gentleman’s daughter; so far we are equal.”
That’s really quite a declaration. Everyone’s been so obsequious to Darcy for the whole book, except for Lizzy, of course; but while she hasn’t taken him too seriously, to come out and say, “I am his equal,” plainly like that, and in such a situation, is really quite remarkable. Or are we perhaps reading too much into it? 😉
Feel free to post a passage you like; feel free to use the Molland’s e-text to copy and paste.