A Preview of Pride and Prejudice: The Complete Novel, with Nineteen Letters from the Characters’ Correspondence, by Jane Austen & Barbara Heller

Pride and Prejudice The Complete Novel, with Nineteen Letters 2020 coverLet me ask you a serious question, Janeites. How many copies of Pride and Prejudice do you own? Fess up. Five, ten, twenty—or more than you will publicly admit to?

I fear that I fall into the latter category, having collected new and vintage copies of the classic novel since my teens when my mom gave me my first copy from her library. Since then it has been an uphill battle against my willpower. When a new shiny P&P hits the market, it’s mine.

Imagine my delight then when I spied a new P&P that included nineteen handwritten letters tipped in. WHOA! Pride and Prejudice: The Complete Novel, with Nineteen Letters from the Characters’ Correspondence, by Jane Austen & Barbara Heller contains the full unabridged text and recreated letters that Jane Austen’s characters wrote to each other during the course of the novel designed to look like they just arrived by post in 1813! I kid you not. Physical letters to hold in my hot little hands. Continue reading “A Preview of Pride and Prejudice: The Complete Novel, with Nineteen Letters from the Characters’ Correspondence, by Jane Austen & Barbara Heller”

Celebrating Jane Austen Day 2014 with 75 Sensational Quotes That Every Janeite Should Not Live Without

Sprinklebakes Jane Austin 12th night cake sprinklebakes.com x 350

Jane Austen-themed Twelfth Night Cake by Sprinkles Bakes

Today is Jane Austen 239th birthday. Born on 16 December 1775 at Steventon Rectory in Hampshire, England, her many admirers have proclaimed her birthday as Jane Austen Day and are celebrating around the world in creative and diverse ways. Continue reading “Celebrating Jane Austen Day 2014 with 75 Sensational Quotes That Every Janeite Should Not Live Without”

Pride and Prejudice (Usborne Young Reading Series), Adapted by Susanna Davidson, Illustrations by Simona Bursi – A Review

PandP Usborne 2011 x 200From the desk of Tracy Hickman:

Could you tell the story of Pride and Prejudice in 60 pages and make the world of Regency England come alive for a young reader? I pondered this question before reading the author Susanna Davidson’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s beloved novel. The Usborne Young Reading Series provides young readers with stories adapted from literature classics including works by Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Charlotte Bronte. Pride and Prejudice is a Level Three reader with an intended audience of young readers who are reading independently but are not ready for standard length books. How would a re-working of Austen’s masterpiece of complex social relations fare in this format?

Before I could turn my mind to this question, I was dazzled by the illustrations on the opening pages. Scenes of the Bennet family at Longbourn, Meryton quickly progressed to the Netherfield Ball where Elizabeth Continue reading “Pride and Prejudice (Usborne Young Reading Series), Adapted by Susanna Davidson, Illustrations by Simona Bursi – A Review”

Happy 201st Birthday Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice Brock illustration“You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” – Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice, Ch 34

Today we celebrate another anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice on 28 January 1813 in London. It’s hard to top last year’s incredible, world-wide, over the top festivities, elevating Jane Austen and her most popular novel to mega-media darlings of 2013. Who will ever forget the giant statue of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy rising dripping wet from The Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park, or the announcement that Jane Austen would be featured on the UK £10.00 pound note in 2017?

I will always remember this anniversary as the year that I visited Jane Austen’s England for the first time and walked in her footsteps through gardens, stately homes, and her last residence, Chawton Cottage in Hampshire.  It was quite a year for this Janeite. Continue reading “Happy 201st Birthday Pride and Prejudice”

Celebrating Pride and Prejudice: 200 Years of Jane Austen’s Masterpiece, by Susannah Fullerton – A Review

Celebrating Pride and Prejudice, by Susannah Fullerton (2013)It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

Besides being trotted out for the opening of every news article containing anything vaguely related to Pride and Prejudice, its author, its characters, its plot or any other self-serving cause, I have seen this famous first line from the novel on T shirts, mugs, book bags and stationary. It is indeed a truth universally acknowledged that Pride and Prejudice is a phenomenon!

Exalted by scholars and embraced by the masses, Pride and Prejudice is indeed a literary treasure for the everyman. In this year of its 200th birthday, the outpouring of celebration in the press, online Continue reading “Celebrating Pride and Prejudice: 200 Years of Jane Austen’s Masterpiece, by Susannah Fullerton – A Review”

Quotes honoring Pride and Prejudice’s 199th Birthday!

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen, J. M. Dent & Co, London (1907)I could not let this day pass without wishing Jane Austen’s novel, Pride and Prejudice a happy 199th birthday.

Written between October 1796 and August 1797, Pride and Prejudice was first entitled First Impression and would not premiere on the printed page until after many revisions and another sixteen years. Publisher Thomas Egerton of Whitehall (London) purchased the copyright from Jane Austen for £110 (worth £3,735.60 or $5,867.77 today). She would make no further pecuniary emolument from her most popular novel in her lifetime.

We have all had the pleasure of enjoying her “light, bright and sparkling” prose for almost 200 years now. Renowned for her witty dialogue, the friction between Austen’s hero Mr. Darcy and heroine Elizabeth Bennet has given us some of the most memorable lines in literature. Here are a few of my favorites:

“She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. You had better return to your partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me.” (Mr Darcy to Mr. Bingley about Elizabeth Bennet; Ch. 3)

“I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.” (Elizabeth Bennet about Mr. Darcy; Ch. 5)

“Your conjecture is totally wrong, I assure you. My mind was more agreeably engaged. I have been meditating on the very great pleasure which a pair of fine eyes in the face of a pretty woman can bestow.” (Mr. Darcy to Miss Bingley; Ch. 6)

“A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony, in a moment.” (Mr. Darcy to Miss Bingley; Ch. 6)

“Nothing is more deceitful,” said Darcy, “than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast.” (Mr. Darcy; Ch. 10)

“There is, I believe, in every disposition a tendency to some particular evil— a natural defect, which not even the best education can overcome.”

“And your defect is a propensity to hate everybody.”

“And yours,” he replied with a smile, “is willfully to misunderstand them.” (Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet; Ch. 11)

“It is particularly incumbent on those who never change their opinion, to be secure of judging properly at first.”

“May I ask to what these questions tend?”

“Merely to the illustration of your character,” said she, endeavouring to shake off her gravity. “I am trying to make it out.”

“And what is your success?”

She shook her head. “I do not get on at all. I hear such different accounts of you as puzzle me exceedingly.” (Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet; Ch. 18)

“There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it…” (Elizabeth Bennet; Chapter 24)

“There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.” (Elizabeth Bennet; Chapter 31)

“I certainly have not the talent which some people possess,” said Darcy, “of conversing easily with those I have never seen before. I cannot catch their tone of conversation, or appear interested in their concerns, as I often see done.”

“My fingers,” said Elizabeth, “do not move over this instrument in the masterly manner which I see so many women’s do. They have not the same force or rapidity, and do not produce the same expression. But then I have always supposed it to be my own fault- because I would not take the trouble of practising…” (Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet; Ch. 31)

“In vain I have 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.” (Mr. Darcy; Ch. 34)

“I have never desired your good opinion, and you have certainly bestowed it most unwillingly. I am sorry to have occasioned pain to anyone. It has been most unconsciously done, however, and I hope will be of short duration.” (Elizabeth Bennet; Ch. 34)

“From the very beginning— from the first moment, I may almost say— of my acquaintance with you, your manners, impressing me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others, were such as to form the groundwork of disapprobation on which succeeding events have built so immovable a dislike; and I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry.” (Elizabeth Bennet; Ch. 34)

“If Mr. Darcy is neither by honour nor inclination confined to his cousin, why is not he to make another choice? And if I am that choice, why may not I accept him?”

“Because honour, decorum, prudence, nay, interest, forbid it. Yes, Miss Bennet, interest; for do not expect to be noticed by his family or friends, if you wilfully act against the inclinations of all. You will be censured, slighted, and despised, by everyone connected with him. Your alliance will be a disgrace; your name will never even be mentioned by any of us.”

“These are heavy misfortunes,” replied Elizabeth. “But the wife of Mr. Darcy must have such extraordinary sources of happiness necessarily attached to her situation, that she could, upon the whole, have no cause to repine.” (Lady Catherine and Elizabeth Bennet; Ch. 56)

“You are too generous to trifle with me. If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes are unchanged, but one word from you will silence me on this subject for ever.” (Mr. Darcy; Ch. 58)

“My dearest sister, now be serious. I want to talk very seriously. Let me know every thing that I am to know, without delay. Will you tell me how long you have loved him?”

“It has been coming on so gradually, that I hardly know when it began. But I believe I must date it from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley.” (Jane Bennet and Elizabeth Bennet; Ch. 59)

“I cannot fix on the hour, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.” (Mr. Darcy; Ch. 60)

These are only a few of the amazing moments in Pride and Prejudice. Did I miss some your favorites? If so, do share.

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

© 2007 – 2012, Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Pride and Prejudice: An Annotated Edition, by Jane Austen, edited by Patricia Meyer Spacks – A Review

Just when I thought I had more editions of Pride and Prejudice than I should ever own up to, I will freely admit to just one more. After all, what Janeite could resist this tempting package? An unabridged first edition text; Annotations by an Austen scholar; Color illustrations; Over-sized coffee table format; Extensive introduction; And, supplemental material – all pulled together in a beautifully designed interior and stunning cover. *swoon* Where are my aromatic vinegars?

This new annotated edition appeals to modern readers on many levels beyond being a pretty package of a beloved classic. Austen is renowned for her witty dialogue and finely drawn characters, Continue reading “Pride and Prejudice: An Annotated Edition, by Jane Austen, edited by Patricia Meyer Spacks – A Review”

Pride and Prejudice: Elizabeth & Darcy, the Iconic Romantic Couple

From the desk of Jane Odiwe:

Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy are perhaps Jane Austen’s most beloved characters. Pride and Prejudice was written more than two hundred years ago, yet these characters remain as fresh and irresistibly fascinating to us as they were for the first generations that read their tale, and remain the standard by which all other characters in a love story are judged.

So, why do we love them so much? Jane Austen tells their story through Elizabeth’s eyes so it’s easy to identify with this heroine who is lively, witty, and loveable as much for her faults as for her charms. We identify with her because we feel she is like us. She is capable of making mistakes, but having realised her errors, she changes and grows as a result. We see her character develop as the story enfolds. Continue reading “Pride and Prejudice: Elizabeth & Darcy, the Iconic Romantic Couple”

Pride and Prejudice: Group Read – Chapters 57-61: Summary, Musing & Discussion

“But, Lizzy, you look as if you did not enjoy it. You are not going to be missish, I hope, and pretend to be affronted at an idle report. For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?” Mr. Bennet, Chapter 57

QUICK SYNOPOSIS

Elizabeth reflects upon the meaning of Lady Catherine’s visit. A letter arrives from Mr. Collins strongly warning Elizabeth not to enter into an unsanctioned engagement with Lady Catherine’s nephew. Mr. Bennet thinks it highly amusing and absurd that Mr. Darcy is interested in his daughter. Darcy returns and renews his affections. Elizabeth accepts his present assurances with gratitude and pleasure. Darcy admits his pride and Elizabeth humbled him into changing. She tells Jane who is incredulous and thinks she is joking. She tells her father and he is incredulous. The couple confess all to each other. Lizzy teases that he liked her because she was impertinent. Lady Catherine’s actions had removed any of his doubts and gave him hope. Elizabeth writes and informs Mrs. Gardiner. Happy is the day that Mrs. Bennet got rid of two of her daughters.

MUSINGS

It was a rational scheme, to be sure! but from what the report of their engagement could originate, Elizabeth was at a loss to imagine; till she recollected that his being the intimate friend of Bingley, and her being the sister of Jane, was enough, at a time when the expectation of one wedding made everybody eager for another, to supply the idea. That Narrator, Chapter 57

Lady Catherine departs in a cloud of anger after her battle of words with Elizabeth leaving the victor wondering how she had been informed of Mr. Darcy being on the brink of proposing. Being very inquisitive, Elizabeth runs through all the options and decides it is her sister Jane leaking info to her fiancé Mr. Bingley. I think Austen is being so true to human nature through her heroine. After a big blow up, most women need to deconstruct to understand feelings and rationalize  facts. Whom among us has not done the exact thing with their girlfriends? Elizabeth, being the “conceited independent” discusses it with herself like a sleuth sorting out the facts and suspects. When Mr. Collins’ letter arrives warning Mr. Bennet against his daughter entering into an engagement with Lady Catherine’s nephew, the Lucas’ are fingered. Elizabeth will not know the truth until the man himself informs her, and of course Austen supplies a nice ironic twist to it that which I will mention a bit later. Mr. Bennet’s reaction to Mr. Collins’ is classic. He finds only the amusement in it and cannot fathom any truth to the rumor. “Had they fixed on any other man, it would have been nothing; but his perfect indifference, and your pointed dislike, make it so delightfully absurd!” His reaction is just. Elizabeth has not shown or shared with her family her preference for him, only her previous dislike. Elizabeth’s reply softens his resistance to her entering into a match without love. She does love him and that is enough for her father to give his consent.

“You are too generous to trifle with me. If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes are unchanged; but one word from you will silence me on this subject for ever.” Mr. Darcy, Chapter 58

Upon his return to Hertfordshire, Darcy soon informs her of his feelings with one of Austen’s most memorable lines (for me). At this moment, both of their lives hang in the balance. We are on pins and needles even though we know the outcome. He has put himself at her mercy. Her decision will decide their fate. He has applied himself in an open and nonthreatening way. All of his pride and arrogance has subsided. What a different man this is before her. Her reaction in the face of an important life decision is quite different than the first time around and in alignment with his tone and openness.

Elizabeth, feeling all the more than common awkwardness and anxiety of his situation, now forced herself to speak; and immediately, though not very fluently, gave him to understand that her sentiments had undergone so material a change since the period to which he alluded, as to make her receive with gratitude and pleasure his present assurances. The happiness which this reply produced was such as he had probably never felt before, and he expressed himself on the occasion as sensibly and as warmly as a man violently in love can be supposed to do. The Narrator, Chapter 58

As with most life altering events, one is numb and unable to speak. “They walked on, without knowing in what direction.” Ha!

Done. Huzzah! Love prevails and we only have the lover’s tête à tête to tie things up neatly. They both make important confessions; Darcy more so. Elizabeth wants him to forget the past, especially the circumstances that prompted him to write the “Be not alarmed, madam” letter.

“But think no more of the letter. The feelings of the person who wrote and the person who received it are now so widely different from what they were then, that every unpleasant circumstance attending it, ought to be forgotten. You must learn some of my philosophy. Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure.” Elizabeth Bennet, Chapter 58

As if Darcy confessing his love and previous faults was not enough, Austen really pushes the contrition and absolution thing farther than we could ever expect from any man. This next line may be the reason why Mr. Darcy is the romantic icon of the ages.

“Such I was, from eight to eight-and-twenty; and such I might still have been but for you, dearest, loveliest Elizabeth! What do I not owe you! You taught me a lesson, hard indeed at first, but most advantageous. By you I was properly humbled. I came to you without a doubt of my reception. You shewed me how insufficient were all my pretensions to please a woman worthy of being pleased.” Mr. Darcy, Chapter 58

Swoon. This, I believe, is so appealing to women because what man ‘DO’ we know who would confess his love, bare his soul, and tell you that you have made him a better man? I haven’t met one yet. Do they exist? It seems too much to expect of any one person. Men don’t think that way, at least in my experience. You know – the Venus and Mars thing. I believe that Mr. Darcy is so appealing because he does admit his faults and change for the sake of the love of a woman. He may have been Austen’s fantasy, but she sent him out into the world and he is now everyone’s ideal.

“You are joking, Lizzy. This cannot be! — engaged to Mr. Darcy! — No, no, you shall not deceive me. I know it to be impossible.” Jane Bennet, Chapter 59

Elizabeth shares her news with Jane, her dearest friend who knows her best in the world, and she thinks she is joking with her. “And do you really love him quite well enough? Oh, Lizzy! do anything rather than marry without affection.” (Shades of Jane Austen advising her niece Fanny Austen Knight on her own love and romance in the future.) And in proper Austen style of following a character revelation, she supplies us with a joke.

“It has been coming on so gradually, that I hardly know when it began. But I believe I must date it from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley.” Elizabeth Bennet, Chapter 59

Much has been discussed about this line. Was Elizabeth mercenary or so moved by seeing how un-prideful and un-ostentatious Pemberley was that she fell in love with its owner? This is a toss-up for me. I am inclined to say both, leaning on the later. When she arrived at Pemberley her feeling for him had softened since their last tumultuous first proposal scene and his subsequent letter. Seeing his home and listening to his servants praise him changes her even more. When he arrived and his civility matched his surroundings, she was amazed. So yes, she was swayed by seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley, but not entirely for financial reasons. Now she must convince her sister who she has shared almost all of her secrets with that she does love him.

And, then the same incredulous reaction from her father!

“Lizzy,” said he, “what are you doing? Are you out of your senses, to be accepting this man? Have not you always hated him?” Mr. Bennet

“I do, I do like him,” she replied, with tears in her eyes; “I love him. Indeed he has no improper pride. He is perfectly amiable. You do not know what he really is; then pray do not pain me by speaking of him in such terms.” Elizabeth Bennet, Chapter 59

He offers his consent, with this poignant caveat. “My child, let me not have the grief of seeing you unable to respect your partner in life. You know not what you are about.” One wonders at this line the full extent of the back story of why Mr. and Mrs. Bennet married. We are never told, but if Lydia’s personality and impulsiveness are similar to her mother’s, one can project the outcome.

Ok, so chapter 60 does seem like overkill to me, but I still read it and weep. Best line for me.

“I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.” Mr. Darcy, Chapter 60

And the mystery of how Lady Catherine was informed of her nephew’s serious interest and possible proposal to Elizabeth are revealed by a primary source, Mr. Darcy himself. The irony of it is that if Lady Catherine had not been officious and superior, they may not of had the means of re-uniting. So, her trip to visit Elizabeth and exact her promise not to marry her nephew had the exact opposite effect of her initial motive. Another Austen reproof checked off the list.

“Lady Catherine’s unjustifiable endeavours to separate us were the means of removing all my doubts.” Mr. Darcy, Chapter 60

Elizabeth writes to her aunt Gardiner to tell her the news of their engagement. She is such a tease she cannot just flatly state the facts. Ha!

“But now suppose as much as you (Mrs. Gardiner) chuse; give a loose to your fancy, indulge your imagination in every possible flight which the subject will afford, and unless you believe me actually married, you cannot greatly err. You must write again very soon, and praise him a great deal more than you did in your last.” Elizabeth Bennet, Chapter 60

And we come to the final denouement where Austen wraps up all the loose ribbons with bits of irony and amusement. The novel opened with Mrs. Bennet fretting over her five unmarried daughters and by the last chapter she has seen three of them married. The business of her life is almost complete.

Happy for all her maternal feelings was the day on which Mrs. Bennet got rid of her two most deserving daughters. The Narrator, Chapter 61

Austen adds a closing passage for most of the minor characters. Georgiana is happy with her new sister, Kitty’s situation and deportment improves with the influence of her two elder sisters social standings and connections, Lydia and Wickham out spend their income and his “affection for her soon sunk into indifference: her’s lasted a little longer; and in spite of her youth and her manners, she retained all the claims to reputation which her marriage had given her.” I have often wondered if Austen was slyly implying that Lydia would cuckold him. ;-)

Ah, and Miss Bingley. She cannot be forgotten and is given her reprove as well.

Miss Bingley was very deeply mortified by Darcy’s marriage; but as she thought it advisable to retain the right of visiting at Pemberley, she dropt all her resentment; was fonder than ever of Georgiana, almost as attentive to Darcy as heretofore, and paid off every arrear of civility to Elizabeth. The Narrator, Chapter 61

And ending on a happy note of gratitude and regard “towards the persons (Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner)who, by bringing her into Derbyshire, had been the means of uniting them” Elizabeth and Darcy ride off into the sunset. (in a barouche-landau of course)

Finis

Jane Austen and Music

Today, please welcome guest blogger Vic from Jane Austen’s World who shares with us her extensive knowledge of Regency culture and history in four posts during the event. Her contribution is on music during Jane Austen’s era, how it influenced her life, and her writing.

“Yes, yes, we will have a pianoforte, as good a one as can be got for 30 guineas, and I will practice country dances, that we may have some amusement for our nephews and nieces, when we have the pleasure of their company.” – Jane Austen to Cassandra, 1808

Like many ladies of her era, Jane Austen was an accomplished musician. And so were her characters. In Pride and Prejudice, Mary Bennet, Elizabeth Bennet, the Bingley sisters and Georgiana Darcy could all play instruments with skill. Lady Catherine de Bourgh would have been a proficient, as would her daughter Anne, had she learned and practiced. Before the age of electricity and cable the world was largely silent musically speaking, save for the music played by family members, local musicians, or more famous musicians who were paid to play for the rich.

Musicians wandered the land, and London streets offered a pandemonium of sounds, much of it derived from musical instruments. The only music available in the home was that which amateur or professional performers could produce on the spot, so that the ability to play music well was crucial for all walks of life. From childhood on, young ladies were expected to play a musical instrument and study with music masters. Gentlemen sang as well and formed impromptu amateur groups that entertained in taverns and men’s clubs.

Continue reading at Jane Austen’s World

FURTHER READING

Which edition of Pride and Prejudice should you read?

“How pleasant it is to spend an evening in this way! I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of anything than of a book! When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.” Caroline Bingley, Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 11

There are hundreds of Pride and Prejudice editions currently in print. Which ones do I like, and why? Here is a list of my ten favorite award winners (if I was giving out awards). Continue reading “Which edition of Pride and Prejudice should you read?”

Pride and Prejudice: Group Read Chapters 50 – 56: Summary, Musings & Discussion

How Wickham and Lydia were to be supported in tolerable independence, she could not imagine. But how little of permanent happiness could belong to a couple who were only brought together because their passions were stronger than their virtue. The Narrator, Chapter 50

QUICK SYNOPSIS

Mrs. Bennet is ecstatic over Lydia and Wickham’s marriage, but Mr. Bennet will not admit them to Longbourn until Elizabeth and Jane convince him otherwise. Lydia lets slip that Mr. Darcy was at her wedding. Elizabeth writes to Mrs. Gardiner who in turn reveals Mr. Darcy’s involvement in securing the wedding. She realizes that he is exactly the man to suit her. After silly theatrics, Lydia and Wickham depart for Newcastle. Bingley and Darcy return to Netherfield and call on the Bennet’s. Bingley proposes to Jane. Lady Catherine arrives at Longbourn determined to make Elizabeth promise not to marry Mr. Darcy. Are the shades of Pemberley to be thus polluted? Elizabeth will not oblige her wishes.

MUSINGS

Lydia and Wickham are married, but what a “patched up business” it is. Mrs. Bennet is ecstatic, Mr. Bennet is peeved, Elizabeth and Jane embarrassed and all of Meryton think they are an unfortunate family. Lydia and Wickham are allowed to visit at Longbourn only after Elizabeth and Jane convince their angry father that more harm would be done socially if he refuses to admit them. This was a wise move by team Bennet. The couple arrive and amazingly act like nothing is amiss. They truly have no scruples. While Elizabeth watches her younger sister and new brother-in-law’s unprincipled behavior, she continues to reflect upon her experience at Pemberley and comes to an important conclusion.

She began now to comprehend that he was exactly the man who, in disposition and talents, would most suit her. His understanding and temper, though unlike her own, would have answered all her wishes. It was an union that must have been to the advantage of both; by her ease and liveliness, his mind might have been softened, his manners improved; and from his judgment, information, and knowledge of the world, she must have received benefit of greater importance. The Narrator, Chapter 50

She has come full circle from hate and prejudice to love and respect. Now that she realizes he is the exact man to suit her, he is beyond her reach. She surmises that he would never want to be connected to her family with Mr. Wickham as a brother-in-law and Lydia as a sister-in-law.

Elizabeth was disgusted, and even Miss Bennet was shocked. Lydia was Lydia still — untamed, unabashed, wild, noisy, and fearless. She turned from sister to sister, demanding their congratulations; and when at length they all sat down, looked eagerly round the room, took notice of some little alteration in it, and observed, with a laugh, that it was a great while since she had been there. The Narrator, Chapter 51

Careless Lydia let’s slip that Mr. Darcy was at her wedding and Elizabeth is stunned by the connection, writing to her aunt Gardiner for all the details. Her aunt complies with a detailed account of Mr. Darcy’s involvement to locate the couple and convince them to marry. She also learns that he has paid for everything but insisted that Mr. Gardiner be given the credit for it. Mrs. Gardiner is convinced that he did it for Elizabeth’s sake, even though Darcy claimed that it was his fault for not making Wickham’s bad reputation known. Honorable man either way.

Prospects for Jane and Elizabeth look grim. Their chances to attract a suitable marriage after thoughtless and wild Lydia’s elopement have ruined the family’s reputation. They have little money for a dowry and few connections outside of Hertfordshire. When news reaches them that Mr. Bingley has returned to Netherfield Jane tries to be unaffected and unmoved. When he calls and brings his friend, Elizabeth does not know what to think.

Her astonishment at his coming — at his coming to Netherfield, to Longbourn, and voluntarily seeking her again, was almost equal to what she had known on first witnessing his altered behaviour in Derbyshire. Chapter 53

And when he is there, neither of them say much to each other nor actively engage in conversation. Our Elizabeth reserved? It must be love.

She was in no humour for conversation with any one but himself; and to him she had hardly courage to speak. The Narrator, Chapter 53

Elizabeth tries to analyze his behavior. She is baffled that he would not seek her out and talk as openly as they had at Pemberley.

“If he fears me, why come hither? If he no longer cares for me, why silent? teasing, teasing, man! I will think no more about him.” Elizabeth Bennet, Chapter 54

She rationalizes, as only women can, that she is feeling something he is not. Why would he be interested in her again after she refused him so vehemently the first time? No man could be THAT forgiving and gracious.

“A man who has once been refused! How could I ever be foolish enough to expect a renewal of his love? Is there one among the sex who would not protest against such a weakness as a second proposal to the same woman? There is no indignity so abhorrent to their feelings!” Elizabeth Bennet. Chapter 54

And then he departs for London with no real re-connection between them. Bingley on the other hand remains, continues to court Jane and then proposes! This was a surprise. Jane had not thought he was partial again and she continued to act in her usual and unaffected manner, certainly not encouraging him as much as Charlotte Lucas would have approved of. Elizabeth is truly happy for her sister but of course finds the irony in it.

“And this,” said she, “is the end of all his friend’s anxious circumspection! of all his sister’s falsehood and contrivance! — the happiest, wisest, most reasonable end!” Elizabeth Bennet, Chapter 55

The family is even more ecstatic and in Mrs. Bennet’s eyes Jane and Bingley have superseded Lydia and Wickham as her favorite daughter and son-in-law.  Of course she thinks of the financial and social benefits. What carriages Jane will have. What pin money. Everything is appearances to Mrs. Bennet. She is off in a flash to tell her sister Mrs. Phillips the good news, who, then proceeds to pass it on to the Meryton grapevine.

The Bennets were speedily pronounced to be the luckiest family in the world, though only a few weeks before, when Lydia had first run away, they had been generally proved to be marked out for misfortune. The Narrator, Chapter 55

Ha! And now in Austen’s usual style she follows good news with bad when Lady Catherine de Bourgh pays an unexpected call on the Bennet family, specifically targeting Elizabeth.

“A report of a most alarming nature reached me two days ago. I was told that not only your sister was on the point of being most advantageously married, but that you, that Miss Elizabeth Bennet, would in all likelihood be soon afterwards united to my nephew — my own nephew — Mr. Darcy.” Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Chapter 56

What transpires is one of the most brilliantly written “battle of wits” in literature. Lady Catherine with all of her arrogance and officious interference is determined to make Elizabeth agree not to enter into an engagement with her nephew. Elizabeth won’t even acknowledge her right to ask such questions.

“I do not pretend to possess equal frankness with your ladyship. You may ask questions which I shall not choose to answer.” Elizabeth Bennet, Chapter 56

So much dignified impertinence, but totally appropriate. We silently root for our heroine. When Lady Catherine sees that she will not comply to her wishes, she stoops to conquer by attacking Elizabeth’s family.

“Not so hasty, if you please. I have by no means done. To all the objections I have already urged, I have still another to add. I am no stranger to the particulars of your youngest sister’s infamous elopement. I know it all: that the young man’s marrying her was a patched-up business, at the expence of your father and uncle. And is such a girl to be my nephew’s sister? Is her husband, is the son of his late father’s steward, to be his brother? Heaven and earth — of what are you thinking? Are the shades of Pemberley to be thus polluted?” Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Chapter 56

The shades of Pemberley to be thus polluted! Ha! One of my favorite lines in the novel. If anyone does not understand the reference, shades are used in this instance in the ancient visage meaning ancestors. Lady Catherine is implying that by Elizabeth marrying her nephew their ancient family line would be tainted by Elizabeth’s bad blood. Snob.

Elizabeth does take the field and the war handling herself with more dignity and aplomb than an aristocrat three times her age and experience. Bravo. This amazing intercourse between them does however, give her renewed hope. A rumor of Mr. Darcy’s intended proposal is encouraging. He is not one to discuss this with anyone lightly, so it could be true. But who could have betrayed her to the great Lady?

FURTHER REAIDING

Text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2010, Austenprose.com

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