What Is the Process of Elizabeth’s Re-Assessment in Chapter 36 and How Does Austen Present It?

What is the process of Elizabeth’s re-assessment in Chapter 36 and how does Austen present it?

From the first moment that Darcy came to the ball at the Lucas’s at the start of the novel and was overheard by Elizabeth saying that he found her “tolerable”. Elizabeth’s distain for Darcy grows when she meets Wickham who paints a horrible picture how Darcy cheated him. Elizabeth is all too keen to accept the story as she already has got ill feelings towards Darcy. It is only after she reads a letter from Darcy that she begins to re evaluate her feelings and actions for the first time.

At the start of chapter 36, Elizabeth’s initial reaction to the letter is that she has no expectations but the way Austen presents her feelings portrays the opposite. Words such as ‘eagerly’ and ‘amazement’ highlight her contradictory emotions which show that in fact she does have some emotion towards the letter although she does not want to accept it.

Most importantly, the phrase ‘contrariety of emotion’ that is used by Austen highlights the randomness of her thoughts but this could be because she has developed a soft spot for Darcy ever since he proposed to her. It is possible that if Darcy had given her the letter before proposing to her she would have indeed read the letter with ‘no expectations’.

Upon reading the letter Elizabeth is at first in a state of denial. The large use of exclamation marks and exclamations such as ‘this must be false!’ and ‘this cannot be!’ emphasises her utter state of denial when Darcy reveals the true story behind Wickham. Her outbursts of thoughts are a means of Elizabeth to reassure herself that Wickham is a nice person because if she accepts Darcy’s story she is have to also accept that she has been very gullible towards Wickham.

This notion of Elizabeth’s denial being partly about her denying her own gullibility is expressed by herself when she says ‘if true must overthrow every cherished opinions of his worth’. This revelation brings...