I don't know about you, but I apologize a lot. And it's not because I'm constantly offending people or intentionally being rude or purposely pretending like I don't see someone's lights as they back up and I keep driving so they have to brake abruptly. (That's clearly never happened before.) I apologize a lot because it's become a reflex, and truth be told, I think it's lost some of its meaning.
If you come visit Minnesota or Nebraska, my two homes, you'll notice that everyone apologizes for everything (which is actually nothing). If my leg brushes yours on the bus--sorry! If a guy on my campus holds the door open for me--sorry! (As if the extra second it takes him to hold the door open is somehow inconveniencing him.) Inversely, if a guy doesn't hold the door open for me, then he's sorry. Now, in my travel experience, I've come to know this is not necessarily a common thing for other places. I once bumped a girl's shoulder as I was leaving a shop in Madrid off of Plaza del Sol and profusely exclaimed, "Lo siento!" She didn't even look at me. I think I was more upset at her refusal to acknowledge my apology than she was at being bumped by me. (Clearly because I'm still talking about it five months later.)
Maybe I apologize for trivial things because I haven't ever really messed up big, which might sound bad, or like I'm lying (I promise you, I am not), or like I haven't truly lived if I haven't made big mistakes. I haven't done anything so incredibly terrible or selfish that I've had to rectify my relationship with a big "I'm sorry" crying scene. Or maybe it's because I apologize for the little things that I never get to the big, blowout apology. But regardless, it seems like nowadays we both don't know how to apologize nor what we should be apologizing for. Mr. Darcy, on the other hand, seems to know how to apologize, but not necessarily what to apologize for.
When Mr. Darcy was faced with not only rejection by the woman he loved but with her unveiled disdain for his own person, how does he react?
You have said quite enough, madam. I perfectly comprehend your feelings, and have now only to be ashamed of what my own have been. Forgive me for having taken up so much of your time, and accept my best wishes for your health and happiness.
Could he have handled that in a more gentlemanly manner? I think not. The man knows how to apologize--something I'm not so good at. He basically laid his heart out on a silver platter only to see it trampled and spit on in front of him:
"You could not have made me the offer of your hand in any possible way that would have tempted me to accept it." Ouch.
Of course, we all understand why Elizabeth refused to accept him. Darcy's character had too much pride (right up until Elizabeth called him on his shit, which surely took him down a peg). But Darcy really knew what types of chances to take; what sorts of romantic proclamations to make; what words to use to purger himself to the point of no return. In reality, Darcy had nothing to apologize for, except his feelings. And we all know how uncontrollable those devils can be. Darcy's apology wasn't delivered to alleviate any of the tension between him or Elizabeth or to ease the sting of rejection: Elizabeth's refusal ate at both of them afterwards, no doubt.
Darcy fell prey to the same thing I fall prey to: the filler apology, the thing you do when you having nothing else to say, nothing to apologize for, but you do it anyways because that's just the way you were raised. But in this particular scenario, Darcy was wrong to apologize. He was just wrong. Because when you think about it, you shouldn't ever apologize for love. And that's just what Darcy did. He apologized for loving Elizabeth (but obviously only after mentioning the inferiority of her birth).
Darcy doesn't need to be "forgiven" for loving Elizabeth. None of us should ever apologize for experiencing love or taking a moment to express our true feelings--even if they're met with a different reaction than we'd hoped for. And deep down, I don't believe Darcy really meant his apology. Because if Darcy was able to truly repent for loving Elizabeth and having spent time getting to know her and developing that love, then it wasn't a real love. And because we wouldn't all still be here 200+ years later, gushing over a love story founded upon not love but a heavy "like," I have to believe Darcy was lying through his teeth. I just have to.