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Pride and Prejudice Quotes

I have been a selfish being all my life, in practice, though not in principle. As a child I was taught what was right, but I was not taught to correct my temper. I was given good principles, but left to follow them in pride and conceit. Unfortunately an only son (for many years an only child), I was spoilt by my parents, who, though good themselves (my father, particularly, all that was benevolent and amiable), allowed, encouraged, almost taught me to be selfish and overbearing; to care for none beyond my own family circle; to think meanly of all the rest of the world; to wish at least to think meanly of their sense and worth compared with my own. Such I was, from eight to eight and twenty; and such I might still have been but for you, dearest, loveliest Elizabeth! What do I not owe you! You taught me a lesson, hard indeed at first, but most advantageous. By you, I was properly humbled. I came to you without a doubt of my reception. You showed me how insufficient were all my pretensions to please a woman worthy of being pleased.

– Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 58. Mr. Darcy’s journey to self-discovery has brought him to this important moment of clarity and humility. Darcy has just proposed to Elizabeth and she has accepted. In this speech to Elizabeth he acknowledges his selfishness and pride and vanity all his life, having being spoiled by both parents. His father taught him to be overbearing, to care for none outside his family circle, and also to think meanly of the worth of others compared to his own. He acknowledges the debt that he owes to Elizabeth for changing all that: humbling him and ridding him of his pretensions. His deep love for Elizabeth comes through when he tenderly refers to her as "a woman worthy of being pleased."

Good gracious! Lord bless me! only think! dear me! Mr. Darcy! Who would have thought it? And is it really true? Oh! my sweetest Lizzy! how rich and great you will be! What pin-money, what jewels, what carriages you will have! Jane’s is nothing to it – nothing at all. I am so pleased – so happy. Such a charming man! – so handsome! so tall! Oh, my dear Lizzy! Pray apologize for my having disliked him so much before. I hope he will overlook it. Dear, dear Lizzy. A house in town! Everything that is charming!…Ten thousand a year, and very likely more! ‘Tis as good as a Lord!

– Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 59. A giddy Mrs. Bennet rhapsodizes over Elizabeth’s engagement to Mr. Darcy, hardly able to believe her ears when her daughter announces the good news. She is ecstatic that Elizabeth is going to be rich, even richer than Jane. Her previous dislike of Mr. Darcy all of a sudden vanishes. The person she once described as "a most disagreeable, horrid man" is now "charming" and "handsome." Of course Darcy’s considerable wealth buys a lot of credit with Mrs. Bennet, it is his ten thousand a year income that she finds most attractive in him – "as good as a Lord!" For Mrs. Bennet, pin-money, jewels and carriages are what make Darcy and her daughter a good match. At the beginning of the novel we learned that the business of Mrs. Bennet’s life was to see her daughters married. Now with three of them finding husbands, one of the novel’s most mocked characters has achieved much of what she set out to do.