My inspiration for this post was because I recently caught on YouTube a clip of the first proposal from the 1980's series of Pride and Prejudice. I hadn't seen that version but the proposal intrigued me, and I have in fact ordered the series and will be watching it soon! Watching that version of the proposal got me thinking about the other ones in the other versions, as, after re-reading the proposal in the novel, I remembered how the first half of the proposal is not written in dialogue, and just explained! So, this means it is left to the script writers to form the majority of the ever so important and very iconic scene!
So, here are the proposals from the 1940, 1995 and 2005 versions.
"It’s no use. I’ve struggled in vain. I must tell you how much I admire and love you. Miss Elizabeth, my life and happiness are in your hands. These last weeks since I left Netherfield have been empty, meaningless days and nights. I thought I could put you out of my mind, that inclination would give way to judgement. I’ve walked the streets of London reminding myself of the unsuitability of such a marriage. Of the obstacles between us… but it won’t do. I can struggle against you no longer."
"I’ve reminded myself again and again that I have obligations of family and position, obligations I was born to. Nothing I tell myself matters. I love you. I love you."
"Do you know what you’re saying?"
"Yes, my darling. I’m asking you to marry me."
"Do you expect me to thank you for this extraordinary offer of marriage? Am I supposed to feel flattered that you have so overcome your aversions to my family that you are ready to marry into it?"
"But do you expect me to feel glad that your family is inferior to mine?"
"Oh I suppose I should congratulate you in winning the battle between your unwilling affection and my unworthiness. But, you see, I have never desired your good opinion. And if you were not so lacking in perception you might have spared yourself my refusal."
"Is... Is this the only reply I am to be honoured with? I might, perhaps, deserve to be told why I am rejected, and with so little civility."
"I also might deserve to know why, determined evidently to offend and insult me, you chose to tell me you liked me against your will, against your reason and against even your character."
"Why, if the manner of my expression..."
"The manner of your proposal is only one reason for my incivility, if I had been uncivil. Even had my feelings had been favourable, which they never could have been, but even if they had, I'd still have every reason in the world to think ill of you. Do you think anything would tempt me to accept the man who has destroyed the happiness of my sister? The sweetest soul that ever lived. How could you do it? Knowing Jane, how could you hurt her so?"
"In observing them together I could not believe that she really loved Charles. As his friend, I considered it my duty to advise his course."
"But, even without this, your character was clearly revealed in your treatment of Mr Wickham."
"You take an eager interest in that gentleman's concerns."
"And who that knows his misfortunes could fail to take an interest?"
"Brought on by your injustice and betrayal!"
"Where Wickham is concerned I have nothing to say."
"In other words, you dare not speak because you know you are guilty."
"And that is your opinion of me? Perhaps my faults might have been overlooked had I concealed my struggles and flattered you that no doubt of my course had ever entered my mind. I made the mistake of being honest with you."
"Honesty is a greatly overrated virtue. Silence, in this case, would have been more agreeable."
"But I am not ashamed of my scruples about your family. They were natural."
"And should have been kept to yourself! Let us end this distasteful subject. Your arrogance. Your conceit. Your selfish disregard of other people's feelings made me dislike you from the first. I hadn't know you a week before I decided you were the last man in the world I would ever be prevailed upon to marry."
"You have said quite enough madam. I understand your feelings. And have now only to be ashamed of having confessed my own. Forgive me for having taken up so much of your valuable time. And accept my best wishes for your health and happiness."
I think that this proposal is quite good, not my favourite, but good all the same. The entire film is a bit different from the novel (with the time it was set in and the costumes most obviously!) but the words from this are basically the same, and the right feeling and ideas are there, making it a successful interpretation I think. I love the performance for Garson, seeming so very confused about this proposal, and to begin with she is almost finding it shockingly funny, which is an interesting interpretation. You also feel for Darcy (Olivier) when he is describing how hard it was to try and fight his feelings for Lizzy.
"In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you. In declaring myself thus I’m fully aware that I will be going expressly against the wishes of my family, my friends, and, I hardly need add, my own better judgement. The relative situation of our families is such that any alliance between us must be regarded as a highly reprehensible connection. Indeed, as a rational man I cannot but regard it as such myself, but it cannot be helped. Almost from the earliest moments of our acquaintance I have come to feel for you a passionate admiration and regard, which despite my struggles has overcome every rational objection, and I beg you, most fervently, to relieve my suffering and consent to be my wife."
"In such cases as these, I believe the established mode is to express a sense of obligation. But I cannot. I have never desired your good opinion and you have bestowed it most unwilling. I am sorry to have caused pain to anyone but it was most unconsciously done and I hope will be of short duration."
"And this is all the reply I am to expect? I might wonder why, with so little effort at civility, I am rejected."
"And I might wonder why, with so evident a desire to offend me, you chose to tell me that you liked me again your will, you reason and even against your character. Was this not some excuse for incivility if I was uncivil? I have every reason in the world to think ill of you. Do you think anything could tempt me to accept the man who has ruined the happiness of a most beloved sister? Can you deny that you have done it?"
"I have no wish to deny it. I did everything in my power to separate my friend from your sister and I rejoice in my success. Towards him I have been kinder than towards myself."
"But it is not merely that on which my dislike of you is founded. My opinion of you was decided long before when I heard Mr Wickham's story of your dealings with him. How can you defend yourself on that subject?"
"You take an eager interest in that gentleman's concerns."
"Who that knows of his misfortunes can help feeling an interesting in him."
"His misfortunes. Yes his misfortunes have been very great indeed!"
"And of your infliction! You have reduced him to his present state of poverty and yet you can treat his misfortunes with contempt and ridicule!"
"And this is your opinion of me? My faults by this calculation are heavy indeed. But perhaps these offences might have been overlooked, had not your pride been hurt by the confession of the scruples which had long prevented my forming any series design on you. Had I concealed my struggles and flattered you. But disguise of every sort is my abhorrence. Nor I am ashamed of the feelings I related. They were natural and just. Did you expect me to rejoice in the inferiority of your connections? To congratulate myself on the hope of relations who's condition in life is so decidedly below my own?"
"You're mistaken Mr Darcy. The mode of your declaration merely spared me any concern I might have felt for refusing you had you behaved in a more gentleman-like manner. You could not have made me the offer of your hand in any possible way that would have tempted me to accept it. From the very beginning, your manners impressed me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit and your selfish disdain for the feelings of others. I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever marry."
"You have said quite enough madam. I perfectly comprehend your feelings and now have only to be ashamed of what my own have been. Please forgive me for taking up your time and accept my best wishes for your health and happiness."
I love this version. I think it is very well written, and very well preformed, by both Firth and Ehle. As the proposal goes on you can see how Lizzy's anger is growing and how Darcy is becoming more and more angry, but also upset. The parts which appear in the novel are pretty much accurate in the series (the beginning and ending) which is great, and the middle part, I think, completely catches the tone of the proposal (performed wonderfully by Firth I might add). Overall, one of my favourite interpretations, with excellent performances.
"Miss Elizabeth. I have struggled in vain and I can bear it no longer. These past months have been a torment. I came to Rosings with the single object of seeing you I had to see you. I have fought against my better judgement, my family's expectations, the inferiority of your birth by rank and circumstance. All these things I am willing to put aside and ask you to end my agony."
"I don't understand?"
"I love you. Most ardently. Please do me the honour of accepting my hand."
"Sir, I appreciate the struggle you have been through, and I am very sorry to have caused you pain. Believe me, it was unconsciously done."
"Is this your reply?"
"Are you... are you laughing at me?"
"Are you *rejecting* me?"
"I'm sure that the feelings which, as you've told me have hindered your regard, will help you in overcoming it."
"Might I ask why, with so little endeavour at civility, I am thus rejected?"
"And I might as well enquire why, with so evident a design of insulting me, you chose to tell me that you liked me against your better judgement."
"No, believe me, I didn't mean--"
"If I was uncivil, then that is some excuse. But I have other reasons, you know I have."
"Do you think anything might tempt me to accept the hand of the man who has ruined, perhaps for ever, the happiness of a most beloved sister? Do you deny it, Mr.Darcy? That you separated a young couple who loved each other, exposing your friend to the censure of the world for caprice and *my sister* to it's derision for disappointed hopes, involving them both in misery of the acutest kind!"
"I do not deny it."
"How could you do it?"
"Because I believed your sister indifferent to him."
"I watched them most carefully and realised his attachment was deeper than hers."
"That's because she's shy!"
"Bingley to is modest and was persuaded that she didn't feel strongly for him."
"Because you suggested it!"
"I did it for his own good!"
"My sister hardly shows her true feelings to me! I suppose his... fortune had some bearing?"
"No, believe me I wouldn't do your sister the dishonour. Though it was suggested..."
"It was made perfectly clear that an advantageous marriage..."
"Did my sister give that impression?"
"No! No, there was, however, the matter of your family..."
"Our want of connection? Mr.Bingley didn't seem to vex himself about that ..."
"No, it was more than that."
"It was the lack of propriety shown by your mother, your three younger sisters, and even, on occasion, your father. Forgive me. You and your sister I must exclude from this."
"And what about Mr.Wickham?"
"What excuse can you give for your behaviour toward him?"
"You take an eager interest in that gentleman's concerns."
"He told me of his misfortunes."
"Oh, yes, his misfortunes have been very great indeed."
"You ruin his chances and yet you treat him with sarcasm."
"So this is your opinion of me. Thank you for explaining so fully. Perhaps these offences might have been overlooked had not your pride... "
" ...been hurt by my honesty in admitting scruples about our relationship. Could you expect me to rejoice in the inferiority of your circumstances?"
"And those are the words of a gentleman. From the first moment I met you, your arrogance and conceit, your selfish disdain for the feelings of others made me realise that you were the last man in the world I could ever be prevailed upon to marry."
"Forgive me, madam, for taking up so much of your time."
I love this proposal as well! And I don't know if I can pick between this one and the 1995 one. This one is most dramatic and fast moving with a lot of short and snappy lines, bouncing quickly back and forth between them, and this tension which is created is great. The location contributes to this as well. However untrue to the book, I love that it happens outside, in the rain! This also adds to the terrific atmosphere! Back to the words, as well as the great middle section which catches the essence of the proposal in just the short and snappy exchanges between them (which both actors perform very well!), the beginning especially and the whole proposal in general is very romantic, well I think it is. Perhaps not as true to the novel, but still wonderful and I would have a man say the words "I love you. Most ardently" to me any day!
So, what do you think of them? Which one is your favourite?
Your affectionate friend,