Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice Mr. Darcy Quotes Page 1
"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." (34.4)
Aw, so romantic! Or is it? When Mr. Darcy tells Lizzy that he loves her, he leads with: "I didn't want to tell you this," and the subtext is, "because I totally think you're beneath me." Remind us again why people put this line on coffee cups?
[Miss Bingley:] "Oh! certainly," cried his faithful assistant, "no [woman] can be really esteemed accomplished who does not greatly surpass what is usually met with. A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half-deserved."
Here's a good look at some of the expectations for upper class women: music, singing, drawing, a nice voice, and a graceful walk. Notice anything missing? Oh yeah: any skills or accomplishments that aren't purely decorative. No calculus. No economy. No critical thinking. Only things that will help her attract a dude.
[Mr. Darcy] was directly invited to join their party, but he declined it, observing that he could imagine but two motives for their choosing to walk up and down the room together, with either of which motives his joining them would interfere. […] [Miss Bingley] persevered therefore in requiring an explanation of his two motives.
"I have not the smallest objection to explaining them," said he, as soon as she allowed him to speak. "You either choose this method of passing the evening because you are in each other's confidence, and have secret affairs to discuss, or because you are conscious that your figures appear to the greatest advantage in walking; if the first, I would be completely in your way, and if the second, I can admire you much better as I sit by the fire."
"Oh! shocking!" cried Miss Bingley. "I never heard anything so abominable. How shall we punish him for such a speech?" (11.11-16)
Darcy can't actually tell Miss Bingley that she doesn't stand a chance, but he lets her know in the only way he can—by shutting down her flirtation through bluntness.
It doesn't work.