Here is the first of my many pieces of classwork which I wrote last year, but I felt I might as well post it as not :) I have editing it a bit, and hope it is entertaining, or at least interesting!
Locations in Pride and Prejudice
There are several locations in ‘Pride and Prejudice’ which play an important part in the story. Two of the most significant places in my opinion are Rosings Park (Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s great estate), and Pemberley (need I say who’s home this is?) Both these places are important to the structure of the novel, as they are introduced at pivotal moments in the plot, while the way the places are portrayed in the text helps the reader discover more about the characters of their owners, and both locations play an extremely necessary part in the development of Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship.
Rosings Park is the stately home belonging to Mr. Collins’ ‘highly esteemed’ patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and it is Mr. Collins who creates the reader’s initial impression of the property. It is easy to see that he is quite in awe of the place and its owner, and his observations about the “enumeration of the windows” and the expensive “chimney-piece” create a clear image but are also funny and typical of Collins’ character! ;) Austen uses the word “grandeur” and Mr. Collins worries for the visitors, that “the sight of such rooms, so many servants, and so splendid a dinner might not wholly overpower them”. From this, it is expected that Lady Catherine will be grand, haughty and overpowering – just as she is – and she wants the reader to dislike the place as much as Elizabeth does, and I think it is fair to say this is succeeded! Elizabeth first goes to Rosings Park when she visits Charlotte, now married to Mr. Collins, and after the unexpected arrival there of Mr. Darcy, Rosings Park is the location of a key moment in Elizabeth and Darcy’s relationship – the proposal! I think Austen deliberately sets the proposal scene at this pretentious, overbearing and unwelcoming location to reflect the coldness of Elizabeth’s uncompromising rejection of Mr Darcy. The location is not used again in the book, perhaps because it represents the lowest point of their relationship. It is ironic that Elizabeth’s final cutting comment to Darcy is “I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry”, as she does! And after this point in the story, their relationship begins to change and Austen takes the reader to a different, more pleasant location, Pemberley... *sigh*
Clearly Austen wants the reader to view Rosings as pretentious as Lady Catherine de Bourgh herself! And to me, the expensive furnishing and general grandeur says Lady Catherine all over! I think this prepares you to discover more about Darcy, when Elizabeth visits his home, Pemberley. Austen’s physical description of Pemberley makes the place sound absolutely wonderful, and gives vital insight into the REAL character of Mr. Darcy. (Grr Wickham!) The novel is written mainly from Elizabeth’s viewpoint, and since Elizabeth has been prejudiced against Darcy prior to her visit to Pemberley, you are also inclined to dislike him and might expect his home to be grand and showy, as a reflection of his character. Pemberley is mentioned earlier in the novel, for example Caroline talks of the “delightful library” there, and Bingley declares he would like a house just like Pemberley, although Caroline believes it is “more possible to get Pemberley by purchase than by imitation”. (That is how very wonderful a place it is! :) ) Austen wants you to build up an image of Pemberley’s splendour. Darcy’s home does indeed reflect his character, but both prove different to expectations. To Elizabeth’s surprise, the house is not ostentatious, formal or showy, in fact “she had never seen a place for which nature had done more”. The words like “handsome”, “beautiful” and “good” to describe the stunning grounds and tasteful, comfortable decor at Pemberley reflect Darcy! You begin to form a new opinion of Darcy, as he to is handsome (obviously!) and good! Does this also suggest that Lizzy’s feelings are moving more towards love? :D The phrases “artificial appearance” and “falsely adorned” give a clue that Darcy’s personality so far has been misjudged (again, grr Wickham!) The apparent change in Darcy comes as a greater shock for to Lizzy, coming so soon after the rejected proposal, set at Rosings, where Elizabeth has been so angry and forthright with Darcy. If I was her, I would not expect any civility at all from a man I insulted so much! I think it is deliberate that Austen introduces a visit to Pemberley quite late into the story, but at another pivotal moment, just as Darcy and Lizzy’s relationship is improving – finally!
Austen’s portrayal of Rosings Park encourages you to dislike the house, whereas Pemberley is presented as a perfect rural idyll *sigh*. It is important to the structure of the story for Elizabeth to visit Pemberley at this point, as her visit shows her exactly what she has turned down by refusing Darcy. Being at Pemberley makes the proposal seem more realistic and desirable and you are given signs that Elizabeth is possibly starting to regret her decision, as “she felt that to be mistress of Pemberley might be something!” When later talking to Jane about her change of heart, Elizabeth suggests: “I believe I must date it from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley.” These two comments could be and are interpreted in different ways. A contemporary reader of the novel might think that the only reason why Elizabeth changes her opinion and agrees to marry Darcy is because of the magnificence of his house and his wealth! I know that financial security was a major reason for marriage in the 19th century, as stated in the opening sentence of the novel; “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” However the modern reader might think that perhaps these comments are not to be taken literally but are meant to be more sarcastic and to create humour, especially as Elizabeth wishes to marry for love, as evidenced by her refusal of Mr. Collins – and I think this too as I am a total romantic! Pemberley really does represents a huge change in Lizzy’s feelings!
The housekeeper at Pemberley plays a major part in filling in some background detail to Darcy’s character and in preparing the reader and Elizabeth for the arrival of the ‘new’ Darcy. She describes him as “the best landlord, and best master”, which is not in keeping with his image so far, (for a third time, grr Wickham!) however, this account is reliable since she has “known him ever since he was four years old.” When the housekeeper mentions her Master is not at home “but we expect him tomorrow”, I think Austen wants you to begin to hope for Darcy’s arrival, and luckily it does, unfortunately not with a wet shirt! Darcy makes his second unexpected arrival during this visit with the Gardiners, and it is quickly apparent to Elizabeth that Darcy’s character is altered, or not what she first thought. (grr Wic.. you get the picture!) Austen presents this change mainly through Darcy’s words and actions towards others. For example how gentlemanly when talking to Mr. Gardiner, Elizabeth “heard Mr. Darcy invite him, with the greatest civility, to fish there.” This behaviour on Darcy’s part is surprising, as the Gardiners are considerably below Darcy in social class. He is also surprisingly friendly and civil towards Elizabeth herself and even wishes her to meet his sister. After her behaviour towards him at Rosings, Elizabeth would not expect Darcy to talk to her at all, let alone ask to introduce her to his sister! Such insults shouldn’t really deserve such attention, in fact deserve any attention at all! It is at Pemberley that Georgiana, Darcy’s sister, is first introduced. She is important as she corresponds to Darcy’s ‘new’ character, and Georgiana’s story exposes Wickham’s true character! (YAY!) Austen starts to show the good side of Darcy, when he is relaxed in his own surroundings at Pemberley, so that you warm to him, just as Elizabeth does. “Can this be Mr. Darcy!” wonders Elizabeth in surprise! Austen uses a lot of exclamation marks during this passage – poor Lizzy! It is while at Pemberley that Darcy’s continuing feelings of affection for Elizabeth are suspected by the Gardiners, however Austen does not directly inform the reader of this, but keeps him guessing until Darcy himself confirms his feelings. This happens, again at Pemberley, when talking to Caroline Bingley, he leaps to Elizabeth’s defence, saying: “for it is many months since I have considered her as one of the handsomest women of my acquaintance.” (Love this line, and this point in the BBC version, haha Caroline!) Elizabeth receives a letter when at Rosings Park, explaining the truth about the problems between Darcy and Wickham. Pemberley is important as it becomes the source of truth about the argument with Wickham and the source of truth about Darcy’s past and his real character. The reaction Austen successfully achieves from the unexpected arrival and subsequent turn of events and uncovering of the truth is very pleasing, well I think! ;)
The dramatic change in Darcy’s character could be interpreted as the effect of Elizabeth’s harsh criticisms. Alternatively, you might believe it is pretence, to persuade Elizabeth to marry him. However, I feel that because the change happens at Pemberley, Darcy’s childhood home, Austen wants us to believe that this was actually his true character all along, but seen through Elizabeth’s eyes, the reader has misunderstood him and been prejudiced against him. Again, I am romantic and will not even consider that Darcy’s new character is just an act!
The importance of the meeting at Pemberley, as a turning point in the relationship of Darcy and Elizabeth, is supported by the final line of the novel: “by bringing her into Derbyshire, had been the means of uniting them.” This is why I think that Pemberley is the most important place in the novel. You associate Rosings with Lady Catherine, arrogance and formality, and with the low point in Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship. The reader is then taken to Pemberley, which is associated with Georgiana, beauty and truth, Darcy’s real character and the flowering of the relationship. Without Pemberley, the classic ending to this famous story may not have been as we know it today – thank goodness it is!
Your affectionate friend,