Critically analyse the following passage from Pride and Prejudice. Your discussion should include detailed consideration of what the passage shows of the thematic concerns and narrative methods of the novel (for example, what themes are dealt with here? What use is made of narrative point of view? How is characterisation achieved?).
She danced next with an officer, and had the refreshment of talking of Wickham, and of hearing that he was universally liked. When those dances were over she returned to Charlotte Lucas, and was in conversation with her, when she found herself suddenly addressed by Mr Darcy, who took her so much by surprise in his application for her hand, that, without knowing what she did, she accepted him. He walked away again immediately, and she was left to fret over her want of presence of mind: Charlotte tried to console her.
“I dare say you will find him very agreeable.”
“Heaven forbid! That would be the greatest misfortune of all! To find a man agreeable whom one is determined to hate! Do not wish me such an evil.”
When the dancing recommenced, however, and Darcy approached to claim her hand, Charlotte could not help cautioning her in a whisper not to be a simpleton and allow her fancy for Wickham to make her appear unpleasant in the eyes of a man of ten time his consequence. Elizabeth made no answer, and took her place in the set, amazed at the dignity to which she was arrived in being allowed to stand opposite to Mr Darcy, and reading in her neighbours’ looks their equal amazement in beholding it. They stood for some time without speaking a word; and she began to imagine that their silence was to last through the two dances, and at first was resolved not to break it; till suddenly fancying that it would be the greater punishment to her partner to oblige him to talk, she made some slight observation on the dance. He replied, and was silent again. After a pause of some minutes she addressed him a second time with
“It is your turn to say something now, Mr Darcy, I talked about the dance, and you ought to make some kind of remark on the size of the room, or the number of couples.”
He smiled, and assured her that whatever she wished him to say should be said.
“Very well. That reply will do for the present. Perhaps by and bye I may observe that private balls are much pleasanter than public ones. But now we may be silent.”
“Do you talk by rule then, while you are dancing?”
“Sometimes. One must speak a little, you know. It would look odd to be entirely silent for half an hour together, and yet for the advantage of some, conversation ought to be so arranged as that they may have the trouble of saying as little as possible.”
“Are you consulting your own feelings in the present case, or do you image that you are gratifying mine?”
“Both,” replied Elizabeth archly; “for I have always seen a great similarity in the turn of our minds. We are each of an unsocial, taciturn disposition, unwilling to speak, unless we expect to say something that will amaze the whole room, and be handed down to posterity with all the clat of a proverb.”
“This is no very striking resemblance of your own character, I am sure,” he said. “How near it may be to mine, I cannot pretend to say. You think it a faithful portrait undoubtedly.”
“I must not decide on my own performance.”
(68-70; vol.1, ch.18)
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