Thursday, 22 October 2009

Pride and Prejudice Question 22

Your enthusiasm is so infectious I think I might rush off and watch Pride and Prejudice yet again, even though I did a marthon viewing just a bit more than a month ago of the Firth version. I'm glad some of you mentioned the Macfadyen version, too. Yes, those gazes are really heart melting, aren't they?

My question for today is something that came up earlier in discussion. A point was raised that Caroline never really took Elizabeth seriously as a rival until the end, despite her catty behavior, because she could never have believed Darcy could  be serious about someone like Elizabeth.

At the same time, Elizabeth's flawed viewpoint presents Caroline almost immediately as very disagreeable, despite Jane's protests that they were perfectly nice to her. Putting the two together, here is my question.

Pride and Prejudice Question 22

How much do Caroline and Elizabeth consciously or unconsciously see each other as rivals throughout the story?

8 comments:

  1. ohhhh Though neither would admit it to anyone, I know they're secretly wanting to rip the other's hair out!

    Sure Caroline doesn't think Elizabeth really has a chance with Darcy but it must kill her just to know he thinks of her and admires her.

    As for Elizabeth, though she claims to disdain Darcy, she just can't stand the thought of someone as snooty as Caroline getting what she wants.

    So yes, they are both fully aware of the other as a rival.

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  2. They are definitely enemies, but I don't think Elizabeth ever sees Caroline as a rival. Caroline is jealous of the attention that Mr. Darcy pays Elizabeth and is nasty both to her face and behind her back. Elizabeth sees Caroline as a great influence in separating Jane and Charles.

    At Rosings, before the proposal, she figures that Darcy is as likely to marry Anne as Caroline. She isn't concerned at this point about whom he marries. After meeting him later at Pemberley, she sees Caroline again as the enemy, but I don't think she is concerned that Caroline has any influence over Darcy. Caroline is too jealous to see that Elizabeth will be Darcy's pick regardless of anything she can say against her.

    It is really a shame that the McFadyen P & P abandons Caroline. The actress is so good and I would have loved to see her mock Elizabeth's fine eyes and get her comeuppance!

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  3. I think Caroline thinks of Elizabeth as a rival after her visit at Netherfield Park. Before that, she just had fun mocking her with Mr. Darcy, but during her visit, I think she started to see that Mr. Darcy admired Elizabeth. She didn't like that and really had fun mocking Elizabeth's fine eyes!

    I think you are also correct that Elizabeth also does always dislike Caroline even though she has done nothing wrong to Elizabeth's face. She probably does unconciously always think of her as a rival. She didn't think of Mr. Darcy in that way at first, but unconciously she must have thought he was attractive (especially if he looked like Firth or McFayden).

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  4. Yes, I suppose on a sub-conscious level any elegant female on the arm of a rich and handsome gentleman had to be seen as a rival. It didn't go beyond this, because Elizabeth despised Darcy so much. She may have even hoped that Darcy would get stuck with Caroline as his just desserts.

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  5. Doesn't Caroline say something in the beginning about how the Bennets weren't the great beauties they'd been reported to be? I think she came to Merryton ready to consider Elizabeth a rival, but then likely dismissed her because of her lack of money, her messy mother--and perhaps because Caroline thought herself prettier. As far as being a rival for Darcy's affections, I don't think Caroline really thinks she stands a chance until the whole "fine eyes" exchange.

    I've trusted Elizabeth's view of Caroline as disagreeable for so long, that I'm having a difficult time coping with the idea that she could have been unjustly biased. Clearly I need to reread!

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  6. No need to distrust Elizabeth, Tracygrrrl. We all look at the world through our own perceptions, and each of us sees things slightly differently. It's more about POV and whose point of view JA gives us. We know it's Elizabeth's because we are surprised with her (the first time we read the book, at least) that Darcy is so passionately in love. Many of the revelations along the way are Elizabeth's discovery, not our own. We don't know that Mr Darcy helped with Lydia's wedding until Elizabeth hears it from Lydia. It's really a technical issue, one of more interest to writers, perhaps, than to readers. Again, it's just one of those fascinating things about JA. She seems to be giving us an objective POV, and she does on many occasions throughout the book, but most of the events are seen through a limited perspective. It's brilliantly done -- something I appreciate because I know only the best writers can do something like that.
    A "flawed" perspective doesn't imply that it is't trustworthy. It just implies that part of the way we get to know a character (like Elizabeth) is through the way she presents things. We know, for example, that she is far more critical than Jane, who is more likely to see the good side of people. JA doesn't conceal that. She presents it as such, and presents it positively. As it turns out, like Emma, Elizabeth learns through the course of the novel not to judge others so quickly. Contrast the way she accepts her father's judgement at the beginning, but questions it later, and then is shocked at how wrong he is when he makes fun of the idea of Darcy marrying her. She used to think like her father -- she doesn't any more.

    Well -- as for being a dork, here I've exceeded the absolute limits for the length of a post!

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  7. I didn't mean to imply that Elizabeth was an unreliable narrator, but I think I've picked up her opinions of people and never thought to look at Caroline in any other way but through Elizabeth's eyes, which of course would be biased, given--as you pointed out--how she grows in the book. I love that you have and that you even managed to work a book out of that idea. Maybe I need to reread Persuasion ; ) and then take another look at P&P through your eyes, for fun!

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  8. It's all in the spirit of fun. You don't need Persuasion. I'm sure you know it well enough! ;)

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