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Perspective Taking

Conflicts abound in Pride and Prejudice, thoughnone is as violent as the confrontation between Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Elizabeth Bennet which takes place outside the Bennets’ residence at Hertfordshire. This confrontation begins and ends in a few minutes. The cause of the fight is Lady Catherine’s objection to the possibility of marriage between Mr. Darcy, her nephew, and Elizabeth. Lady Catherine wants to avert such a union at all costs.

Lady Catherine de Bourgh

Mr. Darcy has been engaged to my daughter since they were infants. That is my and his mother’s wish. Though, Elizabeth Bennet is scheming to abort our plan. If my nephew marries her, that will mean a dishonor to my family. Thus, I will not have my nephew brought to ridicule by a girl of inferior birth like Elizabeth Bennet.        

Two days ago I got wind of the rumor she has been circulating about her being engaged to my nephew. Though, when I confronted her with it, she denied that she was aware of the rumor. I had to act quickly and make sure the rumor was hushed.

I tried to reason with Elizabeth and persuade her to give up all hopes of marrying Mr. Darcy. Surely, she would have to comply. “I have not been in the habit of brooking disappointment.” Neither have I “been used to submit to any person’s whims” (Austen).   

I told her that she could not mess with me. She “ought to know that I am not to be trifled with.” I warned her that if she went ahead and married Mr. Darcy, she would be despised by everyone connected with him. Nevertheless, Elizabeth is such an “obstinate, headstrong girl.” I clearly explained to her that I objected to her marriage with my nephew because “honor, decorum, prudence, nay, interest, forbid it” (Austen).

She is so unfeeling and selfish and has “no regard for the honor and credit of my nephew” (Austen). She is bent on disgracing him in everybody’s eyes and she is making him the contempt of the world. She is shamelessly ungrateful of the attention I extended to her when she came to Rosings. I hoped to find her reasonable but she is not. She is obstinate in her resolve to marry Mr. Darcy. I will see to it that her ambition will never be gratified.

I went straight to my carriage without saying farewell to her contemptible family. They deserve no such attention from a woman of noble birth like me.

Elizabeth Bennet

Lady Catherine is hell-bent on dissuading me from marrying her nephew. Mr. Darcy has not proposed to me after I rejected his first proposal. Lady Catherine was here seeking my assurance that I would not marry him.

She is eager to find out if Mr. Darcy has made me an offer of marriage. I acknowledge she has every right to ask such questions but she keeps forgetting that I am under no obligation to answer. If Mr. Darcy wishes to marry me, I will gladly accept him with no regard for the wrath of her ladyship.  

She thinks my refusing to accept Mr. Darcy’s hand will “make him wish to bestow it on his cousin” (Austen). How unreasonable. I told her that she could not intimidate me into promising not to marry her nephew. I told her that I would not make such promise. When I stood my ground, she resorted to insulting me about my youngest sister’s elopement. That was when I lost any respect I had for her and refused to speak with her anymore. I went back into the house without inviting her.

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