THEY HATED EACH OTHER AT FIRST
At first glimpse, this may not be a mark in their favour. Surely a truly great love story should begin with instant fireworks at first sight? Not so. Any fools can simply fancy each other and give in to reckless passions that fizzle out a few weeks later. But to feel the slow blossoming of deep affection after initially dismissing each other as stuck-up, proud, aloof and - as Darcy first said of Elizabeth - not being "handsome enough to tempt me"... Well, that's when you KNOW things are real.
THEY HAVE THE CHAT
What really matters in a relationship? You might suggest a good sense of humour, having the same hobbies, and kissing a great deal. But the most important thing of all, as a wit like Jane Austen would undoubtedly agree, is to share a sense of humour. Playful barbs should be thrown back and forth. Think of how Elizabeth dealt with Mr Darcy pompously listing the attributes an "accomplished woman" should have. "I am not longer astonished at you knowing only six accomplished women, Mr Darcy," she said wryly. "I rather wonder at your knowing any". And even when they're married, in Death Comes to Pemberley, the quipping chemistry is there. "Don't be away a moment longer, I shouldn't bear it," she says at one point, to which he replies "You are only human." Get a room, you two.
SHE LIBERATES HIM
Mr Darcy is, let's face it, a rather contained and brittle fellow. Despite his dashing and Byronic good looks, his immense fortune, and his princely social standing, he is noticeably uncomfortable among other people, and often wears the expression of a man tolerating a stone in his shoe. And yet, Elizabeth unlocks something in him. She coaxes out the inner Darcy, the lighter side that so rarely surfaces without her. Just look at how much more content he is in Death Comes to Pemberley, thanks to her influence. As his sister Georgiana says to Elizabeth, "Noone's ever spoken to my brother as freely as you do. You've brought such laughter to Pemberley".
THEY'RE BOTH CYNICS
The world of Elizabeth and Darcy is based upon the strictest social etiquette, which covers up all kinds of rampant skulduggery. Wives and mothers smile pleasantly and bestow gushing compliments through gritted teeth, then spread wicked gossip behind their rivals' backs. Gallant gentlemen ooze charm and decency, while secretly seducing and ruining the reputations of young ladies. It's like one big glittering game, but both Elizabeth and Darcy refuse to play it. Equally cynical, they see through all the silliness, and rise above it. As Elizabeth says, "The more I see of the world, the less inclined I am to think well of it", and that's a sentiment Darcy would surely share.
THEY HAD OTHER OPTIONS, TOO
Another reason we know that Elizabeth and Darcy actively adore each other? Well, they both would have had plenty of other marriage options, and had absolutely no need to "settle". Compare that to, say, Charlotte Lucas, whose lack of romantic allure meant she felt compelled to accept the marriage proposal of the awful Mr Collins, simply because she didn't want to be an "old maid". Elizabeth would have turned the head of any eligible bachelor, while Darcy had the pulling power of a veritable royal. Out of all the potential matches, they picked each other. And in their era, there's no greater sign of impeccable admiration.