First impressions powerfully influence perceptions of people. Elizabeth’s initial judgment of Darcy keeps her from acknowledging the chemistry they have, creating an internal struggle between attraction and prejudice. The social class barriers that separate her and Darcy bind Elizabeth to her social status.
Therefore, she becomes unwilling to recognize the attraction she has for him due to an inability to act on it.This internal struggle between attraction and prejudice proves to be the biggest obstacle Elizabeth must overcome in order to attain the love she desires. Elizabeth’s prejudice against Darcy stems from his original insult of her and his socially superior demeanor. Darcy’s insult leaves Elizabeth “with no very cordial feelings towards him” (Austen 9); however, she speaks humorously about the “ridiculous” comment with her friends.
Although Elizabeth dismissively jokes about Darcy, her pride inwardly pains, which she subtly admits while the Bennet women are visiting the Lucases. Elizabeth’s prejudice continues to grow through her constant arguments with Darcy about various topics including successful women and acceptance of advice from friends. Through these arguments Elizabeth’s unfavorable opinion of Darcy’s pompous and arrogant personality grows. Darcy’s proposal initiates Elizabeth’s internal struggle.
She stubbornly adheres to her opinion of Darcy while his continual referrals to her social inferiority, interference with Jane and Bingley and disinheritance of Wickham fuel her anger. Elizabeth’s prejudice against Darcy prevents her from considering any possibilities other than what she already believes. Elizabeth’s defensive reaction to Darcy’s simultaneous proposal and insults suggests a fear in realizing that she may have feelings for him, which she would be unable to act on because crossing the bar that separates them would be socially unacceptable.Elizabeth’s internal struggle escalates after she reads Darcy’s letter.
She realizes that she misjudged Darcy, who is in fact a reserved gentleman rather than the condescending and proud man she once thought he was. Elizabeth realizes the chemistry that she and Darcy have; however, she fears she has already ruined her chances. Now that Elizabeth realizes her love for Darcy she must now face the social obstacle head-on as symbolized through her confrontation with Lady Catherine de Bourgh.Elizabeth’s obstinacy, which has hindered her efforts at happiness before, now becomes her biggest advantage in her refusal in promising not to enter into an engagement with Darcy despite Lady Catherine’s persistent demands.
Elizabeth’s inability to realize her single-mindedness is her biggest challenge, which she finally overcomes after reading Darcy’s letter. The social barrier, however, was the actual difficulty. Elizabeth’s social status was the ultimate hindrance that separated her and Darcy. Social standards and customs cause most rational people to make foolish and perverse mistakes.