‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’: A Closer Look at Carriages and Characters in Pride and Prejudice

Gentle Readers: in celebration of the ‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’ event over the next month, I have asked several of my fellow Jane Austen bloggers to share their knowledge and interest in Austen’s most popular novel. Today, please welcome guest blogger Mags from AustenBlog who shares with us her extensive knowledge of Regency history. Today she explores who drives what in P&P and why. Elizabeth may object to traveling fifty miles from Kent to Hertfordshire, but what is fifty miles of good road if you have a fine carriage? (or Henry Tilney to drive you)

An author—especially a talented and clever one like Jane Austen—subtly imparts information about her characters with details such as their occupation, their mode of conversation, and even something seemingly so minor as their carriage. In Pride and Prejudice, the alert reader can pick up information not only about the characters but about the plot itself from the type of carriage used by a character in a particular situation.

In Jane Austen’s day, a carriage was definitely a luxury item. They were expensive to purchase, naturally, and there were ongoing expenses in repair, storage, coachmen to care for and operate them, and the ongoing expenses of maintaining or renting horses to pull them; so it was a matter of interest to the impertinently nosy whether a person kept a carriage, and what kind. It was almost a method of broadcasting one’s wealth to the world.

“I do not believe a word of it, my dear. If he had been so very agreeable, he would have talked to Mrs. Long. But I can guess how it was; every body says that he is ate up with pride, and I dare say he had heard somehow that Mrs. Long does not keep a carriage, and had come to the ball in a hack chaise.”

Not that he isn’t capable of snobbery, but one suspects Mr. Darcy doesn’t particularly care about Mrs. Long and her carriage or lack thereof, and had plenty of other reasons not to talk to that lady at the Meryton assembly. Mrs. Bennet is here perhaps passing off her own personal snobbery onto Darcy.

Continue reading at AustenBlog

Further reading

Upcoming events posts

Day 13  July 03     Group Read: Chapters 36 – 42
Day 14  July 05     Music at the Netherfield Ball
Day 15  July 07     Group Read: Chapters 43 – 49

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