During and after reading the scene in which Elizabeth refuses Mr. Darcy’s marriage proposal, I was cheering on her strong and unapologetic rejection of this man à la “Yass Queen!”, while simultaneously being terrified for her.
I know she survives, because I know how this book ends.
But what I have learned from today’s narrative is that often, when a woman denies a man like this, i.e. unapologetically and without taking pains to validate/protect his ego, she is putting herself in immediate danger. Immediate life-threatening danger.
And what does Mr. Darcy do? He wishes her well and leaves. And that’s it!
As easy as it has been for me to dislike Darcy up to this point in the book, he is a goddamn role model for modern men on dealing with rejection. That’s right, a freakin’ 18th century fictional male aristocrat (remarkable, considering what we all know about the period’s track-record for respecting women and viewing them as equals); you do not press your case, you do not threaten the woman, you do not blow up with rage, you do not turn to violence. You leave. You act like a rational, adult human being and leave her alone.
Now, obviously Darcy isn’t going to leave her alone permanently because the two do end up getting married at some point – but I’m living in this moment right now, okay?
I haven’t finished the book yet and I am by no means making a judgement equivalent to saying that “it was so much better in those days” – please, do not misunderstand me or misrepresent my thoughts. That is not what I am saying. I merely found myself taken aback by the fact that a woman, alone in a room with a man, could reject him freely, without reservation or excuse, and without any fear for her personal safety. What a refreshing scene to read.