I have, yet again, finished Pride and Prejudice. This is perhaps my eighth or ninth time reading this wonderful book and I can’t help but fall even more in love with it. It was my first classic love and as such has a special and wondrous place in my heart. And this year is its 200th anniversary…HUZZAH.
I have a marvelous group of friends and together we contrived to begin a Jane Austen Book Club (JABC). In September we will be discussing P&P and Bout of Books was the perfect way to complete it. I read it in four days.
I have no wish to regale you with a summary, as most of you know it (and if you don’t, you likely have no wish to), however I do want to highlight some quotes and moments that I hadn’t noticed before and that I became particularly fond of or that brought new questions to mind.
“There has been many a one, I fancy, overcome in the same way. I wonder who first discovered the efficacy of poetry in driving away love!”
“I have been used to consider poetry as the food of love,” said Darcy.
“Of a fine, stout, healthy love it may. Every thing nourishes what is strong already. But if it be only a slight, thin sort of inclination, I am convinced that one good sonnet will starve it entirely away.”
Here comes the burning question:
Did Darcy ever write Elizabeth poetry???
I mean AFTER they got engaged/married. Their love was undoubtedly fine, stout, and healthy. Did he ever compose a few lines for her? Did he ever pick up her teasing tone and write a poem spurred by the lovely irony of the situation? I want to know! I think he might have. I like to think that perhaps Elizabeth would have, even if he did not.
Elizabeth had been at Netherfield long enough. She attracted him more than he liked; and Miss Bingley was uncivil to her, and more teasing than usual to himself.
What were Darcy’s plans prior to Elizabeth?
This quote seems to imply that he didn’t like Caroline’s attentions and didn’t wish to excite her more than necessary. Indeed, I am almost certain that he had no designs in concern to Miss Bingley. So what was he planning on doing, if anything? Had he resigned himself to marriage to his cousin? I think perhaps as a last resort, that would have been tolerable to him. However, I strongly feel that Darcy was a romantic at heart and would not have married without love. In that he and Elizabeth were in perfect harmony.
However, I do wonder at his attachment to Miss Bingley. He had to have known that she wished to unite herself to him. He told her openly of his attraction to Miss Bennet. He doesn’t seem to encourage her, but he doesn’t discourage her either. Was he flattered by her attention? Most certainly. Was entertaining thoughts of making her his wife? I think not. She’s too self-centered a person to attract him for long.
“But vanity, not love, has been my folly. Pleased with the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other, on the very beginning of our acquaintance, I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away where either were concerned. Till this moment, I never knew myself.”
The compliment to herself and her sister was not unfelt. It soothed, but it could not console her for the contempt which had been thus self-attracted by the rest of her family; and as she considered the Jane’s disappointment had, in fact, been the work of her nearest relations, and reflected how materially the credit of both must be hurt by such impropriety of conduct, she felt depressed beyond any thing she had ever known before.
Elizabeth’s reaction to Darcy’s letter always hits me hard. Would I react similarly to the realization that I was so entirely wrong? This letter is the beginning of change in her and in him and is smack dab in the middle of the book. It truly shows his pride. He is so sure that he was right in Jane’s preference. It also shows her prejudice. She had no knowledge of Wickham’s true character and realizes, slowly but surely, how superficial their acquaintance was. It it the climax of novel, in my opinion, and I love it a lot.
It is not, however, my favorite or the best part of the novel. Elizabeth’s trip to Pemberley is the best. Their reaction to each other is priceless and it is here that Lizzie comes to realize that her feelings have pretty much made a 180.
She certainly did not hate him. No; hatred had vanished long ago, and she had almost as long been ashamed of ever feeling a dislike against him that could be so called. The respect created by the conviction of his valuable qualities, though at first unwillingly admitted, had for some time ceased to be repugnant to her feelings…But above all, above respect and esteem, there was a motive within her of good-will which could not be overlooked. It was gratitude; –gratitude, not merely for having once loved her, but for loving her still well enough to forgive all the petulance and acrimony of her manner in rejecting him, and all the unjust accusations accompanying her rejection.
She respected, she esteemed, she was grateful to him, she felt a real interest in his welfare; and she only wanted to know how far she wished that welfare to depend upon herself…
I love how she explores her own feelings and how agitated she becomes by them! Every time they are together she has eyes only for him. I love it. It is the best. Their entire association at Pemberley from their awkward meeting until its rude interruption can only be described as charming, right down to his earnest wish that she become acquainted with his sister. And Lydia ruined it with her thoughtlessness. Ugh.
Which brings me to another great thing about this part in the book. Almost immediately after their awkward encounter the Gardiners begin to get a little suspicious about Darcy’s feelings toward their dear niece. Those suspicions grow, until they are certain that he’s in love with her, though they aren’t as certain that she returns his regard.
Her uncle and aunt were all amazement; and the embarrassment of her manner as she spoke, joined to the circumstance itself, and many of the circumstances of the preceding day, opened them to a new idea on the business. Nothing had ever suggested it before, but they now felt that there was no other way of accounting for such attentions from such a quarter than by supposing a partiality for their niece.
The suspicion which had just arisen of Mr. Darcy and their niece, directed their observation towards each with an earnest, though guarded, enquiry; and they soon drew from those enquiries the full conviction that one of them at least knew what it was to love.
When Mrs. Gardiner found out that Lizzie was unaware of Darcy’s part in Lydia’s marriage she was shocked.
“I must confess myself surprised by your application; I did not expect it from you. Don’t think me angry, however, for I only mean to let you know, that I had not imagined such enquiries to be necessary on your side. If you do not choose to understand me, forgive my impertinence.”
“His behavior to us has, in every respect, been as pleasing as when we were in Derbyshire. His understanding and opinions all please me; he wants nothing but a little more liveliness, and that, if he marry prudently, his wife may teach him. I thought him very sly; he hardly ever mentioned your name.”
Their knowledge is obvious, and that they know more than both the hero and the heroine is obvious. It made me giggle.
My favorite part is the end, which I have related before. Elizabeth finally begins to tease him after their engagement and for her sake alone he deals with her unfortunate relations. I’m not going to quote any more of the book. You’ll have to go read it for yourself. It never fails to delight me.
Well, this post is a little longer than anticipated, but it just goes to show how much I adore this story. My two favorite movie adaptations are BBC’s 1995 version and The Lizzie Bennet Diaries by Hank Green and Bernie Su.