Introduced to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice as a tall, handsome, self-absorbed aristocrat, Darcy experiences a change in personality and character. In order to dispose of his existent views on money and marriage, Darcy needed to feel something, to fall in love. Although he was well mannered, he did not know how to treat women with respect, especially those of a lesser economic status. The love of Elizabeth Bennet, however, changed his behavior.
The reader is first acquainted with Mr. Darcy's arrogance at the Meryton Ball. Speaking of Elizabeth Bennet, he so snobbishly says that she was, "tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me". His feelings of superiority to the people of the town lend Mr. Darcy to be judged as a man with a repulsive and cruel personality. The women, who had found him dashingly attractive at first glance, deemed him a man unworthy of marriage because he offered no positive qualities other than wealth. Not only did Darcy refuse to dance with Elizabeth, but he makes it clear that no woman in the room was worthy or met his standards of a suitable partner stating that, "there is not another woman in this room, whom it would not be a punishment to me to stand up with". In the beginning of the novel, Mr. Darcy is only concerned with the wealth and social standing of the people in the town. Because of their lesser social rank, he feels they are un-deserving of his presence and refuses to communicate with them.
As the novel progressed, however, Darcy became more and more accepting of the Bennet family. He grows most fond of Elizabeth Bennet, the straightforward, clever daughter. Although his first propsal to Elizabeth is not met with an acceptance, he finally breaks and confesses his true feelings of love for her.
"In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you."
When Elizabeth visits Pemberley, she discovers a different side of Darcy. She is impressed with the taste and refinement of his home. He is obviously a cultured and intelligent man. From the housekeeper, she also learns that he is a generous landlord, a kind master, and a devoted brother. Later in the novel, it is revealed that he is the only son of aristocratic parents and that at a very early age he had to take up family responsibilities which made him independent and conceited.
Darcy’s love for Elizabeth is clearly a conflict for him between head and heart. He thinks he should not love her because of her lower social position and her crass family; but his heart is attracted to her beauty, her sensibility, her independence, and her vivacity. When he proposes to her the first time, he is sure that she will accept. Because of her rejection, Darcy undergoes a metamorphosis from an insolvent aristocrat to a kind, down-to- earth soul. Out of his love for Elizabeth, he silently rescues Lydia by "buying" her marriage to Wickham. Later, he is even kind and courteous to her parents. In summary, Darcy becomes the perfect picture of a thoroughbred gentleman and the ideal husband for Elizabeth.