Cheerful prognostics

Illustration by Miroot Puttapipat, Pride & Prejudice, Chapter 7PROGNOSTICS

Jane was therefore obliged to go on horseback, and her mother attended her to the door with many cheerful prognostics of a bad day. Her hopes were answered: Jane had not been gone long before it rained hard. Her sisters were uneasy for her, but her mother was delighted. The rain continued the whole evening without intermission: Jane certainly could not come back. The Narrator on Jane Bennet, Pride & Prejudice, Chapter 7

Mrs. Bennet, that meddling marriage maker who saw an opportunity and ran with it.

Well intentioned, but wreck-less with her daughter’s health; – – her delight upon hearing of Jane’s illness and extended stay with the Bingley’s at Netherfield is alarming. We laugh at her antics, but you gotta hand it to her. If Jane’s trifling little cold had not impelled her sister Elizabeth to visit her at Netherfield, the plot might not of had it’s storybook ending.

Mrs. Bennet could be Jane Austen’s most interfering stage mother, but scholar Cecilia Salber thinks that she is not the only meddler, and there is a lot of ‘butting in’ going on in Pride & Prejudice. 

“Austen prominently presents interference in many guises. In fact, meddling is the dominant action that propels the plot. These incidents starkly portray many of the social and economic realities in Austen’s world, realities quite different from our own. Yet, in portraying motivations from the selfish to the altruistic, Austen also uses interference as a litmus test of the intelligence and integrity of her characters – qualities valued equally in her time and our own.”

Not sure if Mrs. Bennet was selfish or altuistic? Find out for yourself in this amusing article “Excuse my interference”: Meddling in Pride and Prejudice , at Persuasions on-line.

*Illustration by Niroot Puttapipat, “Jane had not been gone long before it rained hard.” page 30, Pride & Prejudice, The Folio Society, London (2006)

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