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Thursday, 18 February 2016

Jane Austen's Darcy or Elizabeth: Who is intellectually superior?

Is Darcy intellectually superior to Elizabeth? Not necessarily. This relationship is one of equals where both learn and change. Comparing Mr. Darcy with his friend Bingley, the narrator says: 'In understanding, Darcy was the superior. Bingley was by no means deficient, but Darcy was clever.'

So of course is Lizzy; but at the end, when Darcy asks her father's consent, Mr. Bennet says: 'I know your disposition, Lizzy. I know that you would be neither happy nor respectable, unless you truly esteemed your husband; unless you looked up to him as a superior.'

Why would she need to have a husband 'superior' to her? Perhaps her father has put his finger on Lizzy's weakness. She is so very quick-witted and perceptive that she unconsciously scorns slower minds. If she married a man who was inferior in this regard, she might grow impatient. She might seize the lead all the time, and end up shrewish.