Who will be happy
In the novel Pride and Prejudice, four couples are finally made - Elizabeth and
Mr. Darcy, Jane and Mr. Bingley, Miss Lucas and Mr. Collins, Lydia and Mr.
Wickham. These couples, however, are not made arbitrarily. They come together
because they are looking for something, such as property, appearance, or
characteristics, and deem they can find it in their mates. However, some find what
they want in their mates, while some do not. This difference, along with the
characteristics of the couples, decides whether the marriage would be happy or not.
Lydia and Mr. Wickham’s marriage is doomed to be a disaster, because neither
do they find in their mates what they want, nor can their characteristics bring them a
happy marriage. From their sudden elopement, it reveals that Mr. Wickham wants
money, which Lydia cannot give him. Lydia does not marry for some special concerns.
She just marries for the sake of marrying, fancying herself as the first bride in her
family. She marries to show off, to fulfill her vanity. However, Mr. Wickham, whose
reputation is notorious, is not an admirable mate. If people do not admire her
marrying Mr. Wickham, Lydia’s vanity will be hurt. Lydia’s dream, therefore, of
everyone being jealous of her, will not be realized. Moreover, their characteristics will
by no means contribute to a happy marriage. Lydia’s attention always jumps from one
officer to another, so she will soon feel bored of Mr. Wickham and go to look for
another handsome officer. She is capricious, chaotic, and always happy. However, Mr.
Wickham, a highly sophisticated hypercritic, can hardly be infected by Lydia’s
childish and vulgar happiness.
As for Miss Lucas and Mr. Collins, although they find in their mates what they
want, they will not live a very happy life because of their characteristics, especially
Mr. Collins’s. From Miss Lucas immediate acceptance of the proposal by Mr. Collins,
it is easy to see that she does not truly love him; she only wants a comfortable home.
Her expectation of a stable establishment is achieved, but her characteristics deprive
her of the most intense pleasure of marriage: true love. She is not so romantic like
Elizabeth, so she dares not to pursue a marriage based on true love. This
conservativeness will bring her a peaceful life, not a happy one. Mr. Collins, on the
other hand, only proposes to Miss Lucas to fulfill his self-importance. How could a
man of my consequence and fortune have no wife? His expectation of owning a wife
is also fulfilled. However, a mixture of servitude and self-conceit, Mr. Collins always
pretends to be perfectly satisfied while he is not. His daily duty is to perform, an
exhausting labor with little payment. He is happy only when he feeds his
self-importance with flatteries by himself or others. However, Miss Lucas does not
seem to be a dedicated flatterer.
Jane and Mr. Bingley’s situation is similar from that of Miss Lucas and Mr.
Collins: they find what they look for in their mates, but they are not likely to live a
happy life because of their characteristics. Jane finds the handsome and civil young
man she adores, and Bingley finds the beautiful and angelic lady he loves. Jane is
angelic, but at the same time she is reserved and acts with scrupulous discretion. Mr.
Bingley, similarly, is diffident in his own judgment and needs Mr. Darcy to help him
make decisions. What could happen when a man of poor judgment and a woman of
reserved manner come together? They will suffer from the lack of leadership when
they are facing some troublesome or dangerous situations in the future. Although
there will be little conflict between them, they will only live their life peacefully
because of their complying dispositions, without intense happiness.
Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy’s marriage is the most promising, since they not only find
their ideal mates, they also have complementary characters. Elizabeth seeks for
independence and freedom in his marriage. She dares to confront the noble Lady
Catherine and to despise her definition of a proper marriage. She said that ‘… to act in
that manner…constitute my happiness.’1 This is a troublesome desire in that age,
when women are expected to behave civilly and obediently. However, Mr. Darcy’s
generosity will definitely satisfy Elizabeth. Mr. Darcy, from his definition of
‘accomplished woman’, expects his mate to read extensively to improve her mind.
This task will be easily accepted by Elizabeth, who highly valued critical thinking and
rationality. Besides the fulfillments of their expectations, Mr. Darcy’s knowledge and
thoughtfulness will help Elizabeth improve her mind, while Elizabeth’s liveliness and
playfulness will also help to soften the grave and solemn Mr. Darcy. Mr. Darcy’s
steadiness in love, which does not change even after Elizabeth rudely refused him,
will helps to secure the lively Elizabeth. The attachment between them, unlike that
between Lydia and Wickham, will last long.
Hence the four couples start their lives. However, not all of them will live like
prince and princess in fairy tales. Only with steady attachment and complementary
characters, could the happiness of a couple last eternally. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy
should be congratulated, since they are the lucky couple who will possibly live the
happiest life among all.