Tolerable indeed!

Illustration from Pride & Prejudice by Lex de RenaultTOLERABLE

” Which do you mean?” and turning round, he looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till catching her eye, he withdrew his own and coldly said, “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me,” Mr. Darcy, Pride & Prejudice, Chapter 3

What Janeite does not feel jolting alarm whenever we hear the word tolerable? It has a unique meaning to us. It is the ultimate put-down from the high and mighty Mr. Darcy to poor Miss Elizabeth Bennet, who has done nothing more to deserve such censure then attend the Assembly ball!

Our ‘first impression’ of Mr. Darcy is decidedly fixed. Jane Austen has critically set the tone of their first meeting, and in our heroine’s defence, we are immediately inclined to dislike him for the snub.

At this point, who is really the tolerable one?

3 thoughts on “Tolerable indeed!

  1. I think that I’m the most wierd person in the hole Janeite world! ‘Cause I didn’t hated him at this point. I really liked Mr. Darcy from the very beggining, ’cause he is someone who could be himself no matter what society thinks that should be the right behaviour.

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  2. the word tolerable has other meanings austen doesn’t use it simply as a tool for showing darcy’s flaws she connects it with bits later in the script to give the word multiple meanings and thats why we can forgive darcy’s faux pas

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