In Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice, Austen’s modern views contradict her time. She believes a healthy marriage and relationship consists of mutual respect and comfortable companionship, instead of status and money. Elizabeth has encounters with Wickham, Collins, and Darcy. Each of them is unique, but when Elizabeth is with Darcy she eventually finds that he fulfills her the most.
Elizabeth’s initial interaction with Wickham seemed promising. She felt that she was his equal and that he respected her. She had hopes that their friendship would carry on further. This was hindered when Elizabeth saw him pursue a richer girl. She realized that Wickham was the type to marry for money and not for love. At this point she did not completely disregard him or lose much respect. But upon finding out about this true character Elizabeth no longer respected him or felt comfortable around him. She was upset that he had put up a charming front to hide his deceitful character. This unfavorable opinion only increased after Wickham ran off with Lydia and only married her when pressure from his friends was applied. With Wickham, Elizabeth saw that there was no mutual respect or companionship on which to found a true relationship.
Early in Collins visit it is clear that Collins has plans to wed one of the Bennet sisters. He decides to pursue Elizabeth. Elizabeth finds herself not in the slightest attracted to him in appearance or character. Collins marriage proposal is insulting in the fact that his motivations for marriage are to advance himself in the eyes of the community and of Lady Catherine’s. He states this when he says, “Twice has she [Lady Catherine] condescended to give me her opinion…I do not reckon the notice and kindness of Lady Catherine de Bourgh” (80-801). He does not mention true love for Elizabeth except maybe in the form of flattery. Elizabeth refuses to let herself be as carried away with Collins as he seems to be with her. She wants to marry for her love, not for someone else’s distorted idea of love.
Initially, Darcy and Elizabeth get off to an ominous start. Darcy is not attracted by Elizabeth’s physical appearance, and Elizabeth is not attracted to his pride. But it gradually becomes apparent that Darcy admires Elizabeth for her ability to stand out as an individual and to speak her mind—even to Lady Catherine. He makes efforts to stand up for her when the Caroline Bingley attempts to insult her by condemning her for walking three miles by herself: “I am afraid, Mr. Darcy, observed Miss Bingley, in a half whisper, “that this adventure has rather affected your admiration of her fine eyes.
‘Not at all,’ he replied; ‘they were brightened by the exercise” (26). As first impressions are slowly put aside Elizabeth comes to the realization that Darcy is the man who will treat her with respect, and truly love her. When this is discovered Elizabeth finally professes her love for Darcy to her father; “I do, I do like him…I love him. Indeed he has no improper pride. He is perfectly amiable” (282). Elizabeth’s relationship with Darcy is the only one that shows promise for satisfying Elizabeth’s modern beliefs on marriage.
True love, respect and companionship are the factors that last longer than money and status. Elizabeth is the most contented when she finds these characteristics in her relationship with Darcy. She feels that he really does love her, treats her as an equal, and enjoys her company. Her views are modern for her time, and therefore not easily accepted, but the ones who do follow these ideas turn out to be the happiest.