gradually ascended for half a mile, and then found themselves at
the top of a considerable eminence, where the wood ceased, and the
eye was instantly caught by Pemberley House, situated on the opposite
side of a valley, into which the road with some abruptness wound.
It was a large, handsome, stone building, standing well on rising
ground, and backed by a ridge of high woody hills;—and in front,
a stream of some natural importance was swelled into greater, but
without any artificial appearance. Its banks were neither formal,
nor falsely adorned. Elizabeth was delighted. She had never seen
a place where nature had done more, or where natural beauty had
been so little counteracted by an awkward taste. They were all of
them warm in her admiration; and at that moment she felt that to
be mistress of Pemberley might be something!
These lines open Chapter 43 and
provide Elizabeth’s introduction to Darcy’s grand estate at Pemberley.
Her visit to Darcy’s home, which occupies a central place in the
narrative, operates as a catalyst for her growing attraction toward
its owner. In her conversations with the housekeeper, Mrs. Reynolds,
Elizabeth hears testimonials of Darcy’s wonderful generosity and
his kindness as a master; when she encounters Darcy himself, while
walking through Pemberley’s grounds, he seems altogether changed
and his previous arrogance has diminished remarkably. This initial
description of the building and grounds at Pemberley serves as a
symbol of Darcy’s character. The “stream of some natural importance
. . . swelled into greater” reminds the reader of his pride, but
the fact that it lacks “any artificial appearance” indicates his
basic honesty, as does the fact that the stream is neither “formal,
nor falsely adorned.” Elizabeth’s delight, and her sudden epiphany
about the pleasure that being mistress of Pemberley must hold, prefigure
her later joy in Darcy’s continued devotion.