But no sooner had he made it clear to himself and his friends that she hardly had a good feature in her face, than he began to find it was rendered uncommonly intelligent by the beautiful expression of her dark eyes. To this discovery succeeded some others equally mortifying. Though he had detected with a critical eye more than one failure of perfect symmetry in her form, he was forced to acknowledge her figure to be light and pleasing; and in spite of his asserting that her manners were not those of the fashionable world, he was caught by their easy playfulness. (6.12)
Uh oh. Sounds like someone (Mr. Darcy) has a little crush on Lizzy. But let's tear this down a little. What, exactly, does he like about her? Her "intelligent" expression; her "light and pleasing" figure; and the "easy playfulness" of her manners—in other words, her brains, her body, and her personality. That's the full package, Shmoopers, and that's one way we know this marriage is going to last.
"Indeed, Jane, you ought to believe me. No one who has ever seen you together can doubt his affection. Miss Bingley, I am sure, cannot. She is not such a simpleton. Could she have seen half as much love in Mr. Darcy for herself, she would have ordered her wedding clothes. But the case is this: We are not rich enough or grand enough for them" (21.18)
Lizzy is trying to convince Jane that Bingley really does love her, but Miss Bingley is trying to keep them apart. (Duh.) Notice Austen uses "affection" almost as a synonym for "love." We usually think of "affection" as a pretty mild emotion, but does it mean something stronger for Austen?
In as short a time as Mr. Collins' long speeches would allow, everything was settled between them to the satisfaction of both; and as they entered the house he earnestly entreated her to name the day that was to make him the happiest of men; and though such a solicitation must be waived for the present, the lady felt no inclination to trifle with his happiness. The stupidity with which he was favoured by nature must guard his courtship from any charm that could make a woman wish for its continuance; and Miss Lucas, who accepted him solely from the pure and disinterested desire of an establishment, cared not how soon that establishment were gained. (22.2)
Here, Charlotte is accepting Mr. Collins, and hoo boy is there a lot to say. Obviously, this passage is dripping with sarcasm: "in as short a time as Mr. Collins' long speeches with allow," "the lady felt no inclination to trifle with his happiness," the "pure and disinterested desire of an establishment"—we might even call Austen catty, if we used that kind of language. But what really grabs our attention is that phrase "pure and disinterested." On the one hand, this is heavy irony: Charlotte's desire to have her own home is the exact opposite of pure and disinterested (meaning "not influenced by personal advantage"). On the other hand, "love" is pretty much the pinnacle of being "interested"—i.e., having a personal investment in something or someone. So, by not being in love with Collins, Charlotte is being disinterested—but not uninterested. Tricky tricky, Miss Austen.
Elizabeth quietly answered "Undoubtedly;" and after an awkward pause, they returned to the rest of the family. Charlotte did not stay much longer, and Elizabeth was then left to reflect on what she had heard. It was a long time before she became at all reconciled to the idea of so unsuitable a match. The strangeness of Mr. Collins' making two offers of marriage within three days was nothing in comparison of his being now accepted. She had always felt that Charlotte's opinion of matrimony was not exactly like her own, but she had not supposed it to be possible that, when called into action, she would have sacrificed every better feeling to worldly advantage. Charlotte the wife of Mr. Collins was a most humiliating picture! And to the pang of a friend disgracing herself and sunk in her esteem, was added the distressing conviction that it was impossible for that friend to be tolerably happy in the lot she had chosen. (22.18)
This passage demonstrates Elizabeth's idealism—one should marry out of love and respect, not for material comfort. Luckily Elizabeth gets her wish in the form of Darcy. But in addition to love, she also bags the richest guy in the book. Hmm.
Mr. Bennet treated the matter differently. "So, Lizzy," said he one day, "your sister is crossed in love, I find. I congratulate her. Next to being married, a girl likes to be crossed a little in love now and then. It is something to think of, and it gives her a sort of distinction among her companions. When is your turn to come? You will hardly bear to be long outdone by Jane. Now is your time. Here are officers enough in Meryton to disappoint all the young ladies in the country. Let Wickham be your man. He is a pleasant fellow, and would jilt you creditably." (24.26)
LOL, Dad. It's so hilarious when one of your daughters is totally humiliated by the man who everyone thought she was going to marry. Right? Right?? We don't know if Mr. Bennet was ever capable of love, or whether his experiences with his wife just crushed his idealism, but either way he's not setting a very good example for his daughters.
All this was acknowledged to Mrs. Gardiner; and after relating the circumstances, she thus went on: "I am now convinced, my dear aunt, that I have never been much in love; for had I really experienced that pure and elevating passion, I should at present detest his very name, and wish him all manner of evil. But my feelings are not only cordial towards him; they are even impartial towards Miss King. I cannot find out that I hate her at all, or that I am in the least unwilling to think her a very good sort of girl. There can be no love in all this. My watchfulness has been effectual; and though I certainly should be a more interesting object to all my acquaintances were I distractedly in love with him, I cannot say that I regret my comparative insignificance." (26.28)
Lizzy jokingly tells Mrs. Gardiner that she can't possibly be in love with Wickham, because she doesn't hate him enough now that he's moved on to flirting with someone else. But… we're pretty sure she's kidding. A "pure and elevating passion" like love would never leave you "detesting" someone else. In other words, if you really loved your ex, you'd wish him well. (Although you might still unfriend him on Facebook.)
"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?
"Your sister I also watched. Her look and manners were open, cheerful, and engaging as ever, but without any symptom of peculiar regard, and I remained convinced from the evening's scrutiny, that though she received his attentions with pleasure, she did not invite them by any participation of sentiment. If you have not been mistaken here, I must have been in error. Your superior knowledge of your sister must make the latter probable. If it be so, if I have been misled by such error to inflict pain on her, your resentment has not been unreasonable. But I shall not scruple to assert, that the serenity of your sister's countenance and air was such as might have given the most acute observer a conviction that, however amiable her temper, her heart was not likely to be easily touched." (35.3)
Uh oh. It looks like Charlotte was right, after all: Jane didn't give Bingley enough encouragement. This is tricky. On the one hand, you can't wear your heart on your sleeve—or your bosom—like Lydia; on the other hand, you need to flirt a little. No wonder half of these people stay single, if the rules are so complicated. What happened to passing someone a note saying "Will you go out with me? Check 'yes' or 'no.'"
Her astonishment, however, was extreme, and continually was she repeating, "Why is he so altered? From what can it proceed? It cannot be for me—it cannot be for my sake that his manners are thus softened. My reproofs at Hunsford could not work such a change as this. It is impossible that he should still love me." (43.60)
You know we like to say that you should never change yourself for someone else? Yeah, Austen doesn't agree. You definitely should change yourself for the person you love—as long as the person you love is trying to make you a better person rather than make you start dressing all preppy.
Mr. Bennet treated the matter differently. "So, Lizzy," said he one day, "your sister is crossed in love, I find. I congratulate her. Next to being married, a girl likes to be crossed a little in love now and then. It is something to think of, and it gives her a sort of distinction among her companions. When is your turn to come? You will hardly bear to be long outdone by Jane. Now is your time. Here are officers enough in Meryton to disappoint all the young ladies in the country. Let Wickham be <em>your</em> man. He is a pleasant fellow, and would jilt you creditably." (43.27)
As always, there's a truth behind Mr. Bennet's sarcasm. Here he's making fun of drama queens whose tragedy du jour gives them a certain amount of cache among their girlfriends.
"Design! Nonsense, how can you talk so! But it is very likely that he may fall in love with one of them, and therefore you must visit him as soon as he comes." (1.19)
To Mrs. Bennet, "love" is more about proximity than compatibility. Mr. Bingley is "likely" to fall in love with her daughters because (1) he's going to be nearby, and (2) he's rich and single, and they're female and single. With criteria like that, no wonder her marriage is so awful.
She had always felt that Charlotte's opinion of matrimony was not exactly like her own, but she had not supposed it to be possible that, when called into action, she would have sacrificed every better feeling to worldly advantage. Charlotte the wife of Mr. Collins was a most humiliating picture! And to the pang of a friend disgracing herself and sunk in her esteem, was added the distressing conviction that it was impossible for that friend to be tolerably happy in the lot she had chosen. (22.18)
We don't find out exactly what Lizzy's opinion of matrimony is, but we suspect that it doesn't include essentially prostituting yourself to an idiot in order to have your own house. But let's be real: Lizzy is twenty and pretty. Charlotte is twenty-seven and plain. If Lizzy were in the same situation that Charlotte is, she might not feel so idealistic.