I certainly shall not [dance]. You know how I detest it, unless I am particularly acquainted with my partner. At such an assembly as this, it would be insupportable.


Darcy’s snobbish comment leaves a bad impression on Elizabeth and all of Meryton. There are layers to Darcy’s statement. One of Darcy’s chief characteristics is that he detests superficial social graces like charm. In this sense, Darcy hates dancing for others, that is, performing just for the sake of being agreeable. In addition, as dancing with a partner at a Regency ball was an opportunity for conversation, Darcy’s unwillingness to dance with new people suggests a lack of sociability. Finally, his immediate assumption that he couldn’t possibly meet an interesting partner at a small country gathering shows great social prejudice.

“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.”

Darcy’s admiration for Elizabeth here emphasizes that he is a very different sort of person than Miss Bingley. Although Elizabeth’s walk to Netherfield was perhaps ill-advised, all of the objections to Elizabeth’s behavior coming from Miss Bingley are quite shallow and appearance-driven. That Darcy looks past these criticisms and recognizes that Elizabeth has come far out of worry for Jane shows that he values substance, not appearance. His comment that her eyes look brighter now demonstrates that the more he learns about Elizabeth’s character the more attractive she becomes to him.

I have faults enough, but they are not, I hope, of understanding. My temper I dare not vouch for. It is, I believe, too little yielding; certainly too little for the convenience of the world. . . . My good opinion once lost is lost for ever.

This comment is part of a larger conversation, during which Elizabeth states that Darcy believes himself perfect. Darcy’s admittance to his flaws shows some self-awareness. However, he still hasn’t recognized his class-based snobbery, which is worthy of critique. Nevertheless, he isn’t offended by Elizabeth’s teasing, and even appears to enjoy it. As seriously as he takes himself, he is not humorless when the teasing comes from someone he likes. His comment on his unforgiving nature will come to haunt Elizabeth later in the novel as she wonders what exactly it takes to lose Darcy’s good opinion. 

“He is the best landlord, and the best master,” said she, “that ever lived. . . .There is not one of his tenants or servants but what will give him a good name.”

This high praise from Mrs. Reynolds confirms Darcy’s good character. As a servant, she cannot publicly speak ill of her master, but her level of enthusiasm and affection for Darcy goes above and beyond politeness and duty. This compliment also highlights how many people’s lives Darcy ultimately takes responsibility for in managing such a large estate. That he can do so and maintain the goodwill of all who live there shows that he’s organized, fair, and compassionate.

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.

Just as Darcy’s letter forces Elizabeth to introspection, so does Elizabeth’s initial rejection force Darcy to self-reflect upon his pride. As multiple characters in the book point out, Darcy being proud of his status and accomplishments is not inherently a bad trait because they are worth being proud of. However, Elizabeth makes Darcy realize that having accomplishments and assets does not necessarily make one likable to a woman who values character and personality. Both characters have pushed each other to change for the better, highlighting how they bring out the best in each other and are an excellent match.