7 Lessons On Courtship From Elizabeth Bennet

If you’re currently on the lookout for love, take some pointers from the woman who managed to snare Mr Darcy. Because she certainly knows a thing or two…

Elizabeth

1. KEEP LOVE IN MIND

"Well of course it's all about love!" you might retort. Ah yes, but how easily we can be distracted from this fundamental truth. All too often, singletons will find themselves pondering other questions. You know, questions like, is the potential suitor financially well-endowed? Do they make you laugh? Are they handsome enough? Do they wear terrible trousers? All significant things to think about, yes, but it all ultimately comes down to one thing: can you LOVE them? Never lose sight of that. Elizabeth Bennet puts it best: "I am determined that nothing but the deepest love could ever induce me into matrimony".

2. TOLERATE BAD MATCHES WITH GOOD HUMOUR

Alas, the ritual of courtship will necessitate crossing paths with wholly unsuitable or indeed intolerable suitors. That, sadly, is an occupational hazard when true love is on the agenda. Don't take things to heart, no matter how many frogs you end up kissing. Look at how deftly Elizabeth deals with the marriage proposal from the delusional Mr Collins. Not that she even kissed this particular frog, of course, but he still gets it into his sweaty head that she would welcome his proposal with open arms. Elizabeth extracts herself without bruising his ego too much - a good example to follow when you're next bidding goodbye to a bad date who seems in danger of leaning in for a kiss.

Death Comes to Pemberley

Anna Maxwell Martin on our fascination with Liz and Darcy.

3. FOLLOW YOUR INSTINCTS

Certain rules of decorum must be followed when courting. Don't eat with your mouth full, for example. And don't go rapping at their front door in a fury of spite if they don't suggest a second outing. On the other hand, being just a little reckless and following your instincts can sometimes provide the spark that ignites passion. Like when Elizabeth dashes to her sister Jane when she's ill. She dashes on FOOT, across hills and fields, in a manner most unconventional for women of her status. Mr Darcy is shocked at first... and then finds himself captivated by her rebellious verve. And Darcy is hardly ever captivated by anything.

4. DON'T LOOK TOO KEEN

How does Elizabeth respond when a well-meaning Cupid tried to interest Darcy in dancing with her? "Indeed, Sir, I have not the least intention of dancing," she says. "Please don't suppose that I moved this way in order to beg for a partner." She rejects the very prospect of dancing with the most eligible man in the room, and it only works in her favour. Learn from that.

5. DON'T BE SEDUCED BY CHARM ALONE

Even wise, savvy Elizabeth gets things wrong sometimes. See, for instance, her woeful good opinion of Mr Wickham. Her defenses tumble under the barrage of his charm and good looks, and she's so beguiled that it came as a shock to learn that Wickham is actually a lying charlatan of a man. So learn from Elizabeth's mistake, and don't let yourself be so swiftly won over by surface charm alone. Get to know the person behind the persona before allowing yourself to swoon.

Elizabeth and Darcy in Death Comes to Pemberley.

Elizabeth and Darcy in Death Comes to Pemberley.

6. IGNORE YOUR PARENTS

Finding true love is troublesome enough without an overbearing parent nagging in your ear at every turn. And they don't come much more overbearing than Mrs Bennet, who is frankly crazed by her obsessive desire to see her daughters married off. Propelled by gossip and her own fickle opinions, Mrs Bennet would have had Elizabeth married off to the nearest bachelor, no matter how awful (see: Mr Collins), and it's lucky Elizabeth has the good sense to utterly ignore her mother's opinions on the subject. Unless you're blessed with particularly sympathetic parents who care more for love than social standing, just nod and smile and defy them at every turn.

7. GRANT A SECOND CHANCE

Finally, remember this: your ideal match may behave in a less-than-ideal way at first. Remember how Darcy originally slights Elizabeth's appearance, and then behaves with quite stupendous pomposity? Elizabeth is suitably critical, saying "The very rich can afford to give offense wherever they go. We need not care for his good opinion". But she gives him a second chance, and he redeems himself marvelously. Another lesson to bear in mind, courtesy of the incomparable Elizabeth Bennet.