Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Pride and Prejudice Question a Day 7

What great responses we had yesterday! It made me want to jump in and make a comment myself. I restrained myself, however.

Funny how we take for granted a term like "passion" when two major writers who are so different have almost opposite concepts of what it is. I really liked the way both Laura and Tracygrrl expressed the contrast between the stormy passions of Bronte and the "uber-polite" world of Jane Austen. But do you really not see Mr Darcy hiding a madwoman in Pemberley? Hmm, I'll have to think about that. What do the rest of you think? I do agree, though, that a common theme in Jane Austen is tempering excess.

Thank you all for your insightful comments. And thank you, jnaj, for your link.

Today's question is about Caroline : )

Why does Caroline warn Elizabeth about Wickham? You would think she would be pleased to have Elizabeth out of the way with someone other than Darcy, so logically speaking, she should encourage the connection and let Elizabeth deal with the consequences. What do you think?

17 comments:

  1. There's a few different view on this one I can see right away.

    I'd like to think that it's proof that she's not such a horrible person as we sometimes want to believe she is. She says she doesn't know the whole story, but we all know how highly she thinks of Mr. Darcy and trusts him so if Mr. Darcy is so against Wickham she might believe that he must be such a horrible man as to not wish that on anyone, not even competition.

    If we want to think the worst of her we could see it as her way of putting Elizabeth down some more, pointing out more of her flaws and mistakes.

    So many more variations (she's jealous of Elizabeth and handling it poorly, but is really such a sweet girl that even she couldn't stand by and watch Elizabeth with Wickham but is still hiding behind her mask and so it comes out that way) on the two come to mind, really. I prefer to believe it's proof that Caroline isn't as nasty as we sometimes want her to be. Oh, she can be nasty, yes, and obviously doesn't handle her jealousy well at all, but I like to believe there's more there.

    I haven't read the book very recently and all the books inspired by it I've been reading lately (and the movies) have started to cloud my memory a bit, (and here I move off the question, sorry) but as I'm sitting here trying to think of it, what about Caroline's sister? Is she usually around when Caroline's being her snarkiest?

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  2. I have two thoughts on this as well. Either Caroline isn't as bad as we think she is and is trying to help Elizabeth from stepping into a bad situation, or she just likes to spread gossip. :-)

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  3. I think that Caroline just enjoys putting other people in their place or making them looking bad. I think that she wants Elizabeth to wonder if she is telling the truth or not and also to question her own judgment.

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  4. I look at it in two different ways:
    1) The society at Merryton is rather limited and Lizzie is an important member in it, so her opinion carries some weight here. Caroline Bingley is Darcy's biggest "fangirl", so she wants to make sure that Lizzie knows how poorly Darcy thinks of Wickham. Just to point out that Lizzie is using very bad judgement that she must surely ammend once the "truth" is revealed to her via Caroline. She certainly was not being charitable in any way.

    2) I think Caroline in her jealousy and dislike of Lizzie will take any opportunity to put her down. Here, again, she points out Lizzie's lack of disernment in chosing her associates. No one with refined taste could possibly choose to be in company with someone Darcy dislikes.

    As for wanting to keep Lizzie out of the way by encouraging the connection, I don't think that Caroline ever considers Lizzie as a serious rival. She is jealous of the attentions and compliments Darcy pays to Lizzie, but I'm sure she is totally stunned to hear that he has proposed to her. It had to have been beyond comprehension to her that a man of Darcy's station and impeccable tastes could stoop so low. She shows this (dis)belief vividly when she abuses Lizzie to Darcy at Pemberley, completely unaware of his feelings.

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  5. I think that Caroline just loves to gossip, and the more malicious, the better.

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  6. I agree with what others have said, that a lot of it may be Caroline's enjoyment of having the upper hand. It also shows that she knows something about Darcy that Elizabeth does not--she's showing that she's in his inner circle. But Caroline is also very forthright about her schadenfreude at other points in the book, so when the words "it was kindly meant" come out of her mouth after Elizabeth rejects what she's said about Wickham, I do wonder if there wasn't actually a little bit of concern. You know, the way I can't stand Wilmer Valderama for being a total Latino cliche and a sexist pig at that, but I wouldn't want him to die in a fire? ; D

    Revisiting the madwoman in the attic question, please feel free to argue with me if you want, Monica--I'd just enjoy it, because there are so many "right" ways to interpret a great book! : ) But to me, so much of what makes Darcy heroic is that he may botch the small stuff--like not dancing with Elizabeth at the assembly or showing the charm of Wickham or being such a cad during his first proposal to Elizabeth. But when it comes to the big stuff (Lydia!), he's all heart and strength. Rochester was always compared to Vulcan, a dark, devilish mythological character, and I think his locking up his first wife was part of that very, very dark side that Darcy doesn't seem to have. After all, he rescued both Georgiana and Lydia and restored their place in society when men in every other novel that existed to that point (I'm exaggerating, but you know what I mean) either allowed those "ruined" women to die or end up a beggar or a prostitute.

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  7. My God, that was long. I'm such a dork.

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  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  9. It was long, Tracygrrrl, but thought provoking! A dork would have stopped at just being too long! ;-)

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  10. What great questions you are asking, Monica! I think that Caroline might be trying to show Elizabeth how close she is to Mr. Darcy, that she knows his private affairs and dealings with Wickham (even when she really doesn't). Perhaps she thinks Darcy will find out about her warning Elizabeth and he in turn may appreciate her thoughtfulness.

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  11. I think Caroline is truly nasty, but I think her resentment of what Wickham has done in the past might override her disdain for Lizzie. I also agree that she probably can't resist such juicy gossip. And maybe in warning Lizzie, she does get a little bit of enjoyment in seeing Lizzie's bubble burst over him.

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  12. I really enjoyed your answers (see my blog response). Cheli, nice point about wanting to make Elizabeth question her judgement.
    In fact, if it's OK with some of you, I'd like to pick up on your points and turn them into questions. Tracygrrl, I wonder if I could borrow your argument about Darcy/Rochester and the mad woman to ask as a question here later? And jnaj, may I use your point about Caroline not seeing Elizabeth as a rival as the starting point for a question?

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  13. Caroline wants to show how intimate she is with Darcy.

    milkavainamo@lyseo.edu.ouka.fi

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  14. Caroline knew about Wickham's attempted seduction of Darcy's sister (probably through her own brother, who is Darcy's best friend). Deep down, it does show a positive side to her character as she does not wish that anything that horrible to happen to another naive girl.

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  15. Given that Caroline "mentions" Wickham again in the piano scene, I think it was meant this time to warn Elizabeth that she might not be such a great judge of character; so she could be right or wrong about any new acquaintance. I think it's used by Caroline to put Eliza in her place.

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  16. Monica, borrow whatever you like. I'm super-curious about other people's thoughts on that point as well, now that you picked up on it!

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  17. While Caroline would love to have Darcy to herself, I think she also remembers how upset Darcy was when Georgiana was involved with Wickham, and even though she could leave Elizabeth with Wickham, she can't be that cruel.

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