Of Flawed Perceptions, and Pride and Prejudice Question 9
It's so perfect for the discussion, and I think it's crucial to bear it in mind as we're going through Pride and Prejudice.
As for your responses yesterday, what can I say? You're outdoing yourselves. Pretty much everyone brought up something to think about. Of course, Charlotte is the perfect example, particularly since the she and Elizabeth seem to be close friends. You'd think she'd realize that Charlotte needed to get married and wouldn't turn down an opportunity. Which goes along with what Lori and Kt say about Eliza not understanding her mother, either. Mrs Bennet is silly, but she knows how important it is to secure Longbourn, yet Eliza never really "gets" it -- like her father, she dimisses Mr Collins completely. And yes, as Tracygrrrl says, she could have handled this better, and tried to get Mary together with Mr Collins, and tried to solve the problem that way. (However, very likely this wouldn't have worked -- see answers to Question 2 which addresses this).
Serena and Lynnquiltsalot, you're right on target when you talk about Wickham. Because there are lots of signs along the way that she choses to ignore, even when Wickham gets engaged to Miss King, and Mrs Gardiner criticizes Wickham's conduct. Yet Elizabeth obstinately defends him. She ends the conversation with a dismissive comment which has echoes of Mrs Bennet in it (?!):
"I have a very poor opinion of young men who live in Derbyshire; and their intimate friends who live in Hertfordshire are not much better. I am sick of them all."
(Remember Mrs Bennet's exclamation of frustration at the beginning of the novel: "I am sick of Mr Bingley!"?)
As usual when it comes to JA's characters, there's always more complexity to them than you think, isn't there? There's more to Charlotte than meets the eye. Lori and Jnan's discussion about her being the source of information about Darcy's relationship with Eliabeth is one example, as well as her very correct prediction about Jane and Bingley's relationship (kt, Milka and Tracygrrl). In some senses, Charlotte and the Gardners are the voices of common sense in the novel (and to a lesser extent, Jane, as Lori pointed out, though her perception is also flawed). Elizabeth really flounders by herself. Her father, who could have been a guide, is even more clueless (witness his laughter at the very idea that Elizabeth would want to marry Darcy at the end), and he makes that crucial error of judgement about Lydia which, as Serena says, she tries to prevent. Of course, his marriage is the best indication of his poor judgement! Her mother has a certain level of shrewdness, but no common sense. So really, you can see that Elizabeth would have a hard time finding a basis on which to judge others.
Which brings me to my next question, a simpler one this time.
Pride and Prejudice Question 9
What do you think of Mr Bennet as a father? To what extent does he make Elizabeth who she is (pluses and minuses)? What positive or negative qualities of his do you see in her?