After a recent rewatch of the 2005 film adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” during which I forced my parents to go through Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth’s journey with me, I realized a couple of things. First, the language used in this film, while typical of the period the book was written in, is exceptionally striking. And second, some of these quotes convey such depth of emotion that I’ve found never to be adequately replicated. The copy editor in me was determined to break down a few of the most notable and memorable quotes, in rough order of events, to figure out what exactly it is about this film that makes it such a lovable classic.
“No, I prefer to be unsociable and taciturn. Makes it all so much more enjoyable, don’t you think?” — Elizabeth Bennet
Something about Elizabeth’s witty sarcasm in using the words “unsociable” and “taciturn,” words that convey deeper, more specifically significant meanings than just “rude,” enthralls me everytime. By slyly mocking the disposition of Mr. Darcy while speaking directly to him, Elizabeth puts her feelings in clear view for Darcy, not bothering to hide her opinions about him at all. She also (successfully) attempts to turn her retort to Darcy into a casual, almost meaningless remark conveying an impressionable carelessness in cutting the “it” off the first part of her second sentence. Finally, the addition of the question after the comma at the end of this quote turns what would be a somewhat insolent remark into a rhetorical question — bouncing it back to Darcy and truly forcing him to think on his actions, something he definitely does later in the film. This tête-à-tête is almost as good as Elizabeth’s response to Darcy asking what Elizabeth recommends to encourage “affectation,” in which Elizabeth responds: “Dancing. Even if one’s partner is barely tolerable.”
“Your selfish disdain for the feelings of others made me realize you were the last man in the world I could ever be prevailed upon to marry.” — Elizabeth Bennet
While this quote is based on a classic case of miscommunication between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth, it hits so hard when realizing what still comes of it, despite a clear hatred (or maybe just misunderstanding?) between the two at first. Through Elizabeth’s use of the words “prevailed upon,” this argument is framed in a way that makes it seem like whoever she would end up marrying would only get her hand through force, as if she has no conscionable say in the matter of marriage. That fact, coupled with her basically calling Darcy selfish and disdainful, make both the watchers and Darcy himself feel like this said future person for Elizabeth most certainly wouldn’t be Darcy. This ties into her later quote when she says, “Only the deepest love will persuade me into matrimony, which is why I will end up an old maid” (note here, again, Elizabeth’s use of the passive “persuade,” much like the “prevailed upon” of earlier — like she is receiving the action — love — and not doing it herself). The combination of these two quotes makes the eventual love between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth that much more special, seeing as it was a natural, voluntary event for them both.
“You have bewitched me body and soul. And I love… I love… I love you. I never wish to be parted from you from this day on.” — Mr. Darcy
Before we get to this point, we get the pleasure of witnessing the gazebo rain scene — a simply unmatched moment in this film. Mr. Darcy there declares to Elizabeth that he loves her “most ardently,” a beautiful way of basically declaring “a lot,” and the two finally get on the same page in the later scene here. Darcy again declares his love for Elizabeth and is finally met with reciprocated affection. The repetition in Darcy’s “I love you” series (that the charming Matthew Macfadyen nervously, painfully and heart-grippingly stutters out in the film) combined with his use of the word “bewitched” effortlessly convey the tantalizing grip Elizabeth has on his heart — much like he wasn’t able to be in control of it anymore. This is ironic in the sense that Elizabeth was worried previously that she wouldn’t have control over her marriage or love, and now she’s actionably putting that effect on someone else. I also want to point out that Darcy here insinuates that Elizabeth didn’t just bewitch him or his heart, but she cast a spell over his material, real body and his spiritual, immaterial and arguably immortal soul. She grounds him in the real world while still enrapturing him beyond the physical realm. How’s that for true love?
“You may only call me ‘Mrs. Darcy’ when you are completely, and perfectly, and incandescently happy.” — Elizabeth Darcy
“Then how are you this evening… Mrs. Darcy? Mrs. Darcy. Mrs. Darcy. Mrs. Darcy. Mrs. Darcy.” — Mr. Darcy
Oh, man. What a way to end a movie. There’s not much I need to say about this epigrammatic quote for you guys to just get this one. From Elizabeth’s way of saying “completely, and perfectly, and incandescently” as separate adverbial statements (instead of one adverbial series such as “completely, perfectly and incandescently”), a move highlighting the individuality of each of those states of feeling and thus the true emotional significance of the three all added together, to Mr. Darcy’s pause before continuously referring to Elizabeth as Mrs. Darcy in a scintillating response seeking to fully and officially establish her as his, the language used here memorably ties off the movie and affirms the happiness the new couple feels.
As just a fun fact, the first two quotes come almost exactly from Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” novel in Volume I Chapter XVIII and Volume II Chapter XII, respectively, while the third quote is an adaptation of Volume III Chapter XVI’s events and the fourth is entirely invented for the movie’s sake (because the novel simply ends with Elizabeth and Darcy’s marriage and a bit after — nothing as romantic as this fourth quote).
So, whether through Elizabeth’s wit or Darcy’s lovability, “Pride and Prejudice,” the 2005 film, has again earned 5 stars on my Letterboxd. I hope this inspired you to either watch or rewatch this film and to think deeper about the words and sentence structures often used in your favorite media!