Saturday, 10 October 2009

Mr Bennet, and Pride and Prejudice Question 10

What wonderfully diverse answers, as always. You're right, jnaj, I did work you too hard for a Friday. But I'm so glad I did. I love all the different opinions. Meredith, your point about Eliza bottling everything in and perhaps being too independent strikes a cord with me. Funnily enough, that's exactly what Caroline says to Elizabeth in The Other Mr Darcy, at a moment when the two of them bury the past behind them: "I thought you were too self-sufficient," she remarks.

As for Mr Bennet, as several of you indicated, he is quite a mixture of things. Though in many ways he doesn't seems to be the traditional patriarchal figure who rules the household with an iron fist, he enjoys his position of privilege in the household and makes the best of it in many ways. The opening scene where he pretends he will not go and visit Bingley is a typical example. He holds the upper hand, because they are all completely dependent on him paying Bingley a call, yet he pretends he doesn't understand this, toying with Mrs Bennet's feelings, when he intended to go all along.

Having cultivated an amused distance from his wife and children, he maintains it with almost everyone except Lizzy. In many ways, therefore, despite the fact that he is not an authoritarian parent, he is a typical father of the time, keeping aloof from his offspring and escaping into the library (as Lori points out) -- generally male territory in those days -- whenever anything threatens his peace. And he certainly does not go out of his way to do anything for his offspring. As Sarah-Wynne indicates, his refusal to take his five marriageble daughters to London simply because he doesn't like it shows how self-centered he is. It's an irony, therefore, that one of the consequenses of his refusal to go is that he is forced to ride to London in search of Lydia!

The flip side of it, as Serena says, is that all the girls (except perhaps Kitty) are quite outspoken and opinionated, because of the absence of anyone to put them down. Which is a very positive thing, obviously.

You all had very brilliant points about Elizabeth's resemblance to her father, particularly Milka and Cheli's comments about Mr Bennet's indifference to convention, which perhaps is one of his strongest contributions to Elizabeth's character. And of course, as most of you mentioned, Elizabeth shares with her father her intelligence as well as her quickness to judge others and derive amusement from their foibles. I won't repeat all your arguments, but I do recommend that people read through them, because they really provide some orginal insights into Elizabeth's relationship with her father.

Since it's a weekend, and we've had a complaint about working too hard, here's an easy question for today, but one you can have fun with, I hope.

Pride and Prejudice Question 10

"I can comprehend you going on charmingly, when you had once made a beginning; but what could set you off in the first place?" Elizabeth asks Darcy very coyly, once they've sorted everything out. But Darcy doesn't ask the question back. So here it is. When did Elizabeth fall in love with Mr Darcy?

Your answer can include any unconscious attraction, paying him more attention than she normally would, or any other signs of interest.

9 comments:

  1. I think she had some kind of feelings towards Darcy already at the point when she refused Darcy's proposal. And when she got the letter from Darcy where he explained everything about Wickham I think that Elizabeth really felt what a fool she was. When she hears that Darcy has sorted out everything between Lydia and Wickham she understands that Darcy is really a good man.

    But like Lizzy says in the book for Jane, she thinks that she really fell in love with Darcy when she saw the beautiful grounds of Pemberley. :D

    milkavainamo@lyseo.edu.ouka.fi

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  2. I think Elizabeth found him attractive from their first meeting. He was tall and handsome and Lizzie must have felt him to be a very good prospect. After he snubbed her at the ball and after Wickham's bad report, she chose deliberately to dislike him. His separating Bingley and Jane put in the final nail.

    But, we notice that the letter he gives her shines a light upon the truth and causes her to reconsider. Upon seeing Pemberley and then the "improved" Darcy, she begins to see all of his good qualities. It certainly isn't a passionate love, but it is a love that grows from regret and respect and a longing caused by suspense and separation.

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  3. Maybe I'm just superimposing my own wishes for a fabulous heroine like Elizabeth onto the story, jnaj, but I feel like their relationship is passionate. What is the first part of that "woman scorned" quote..."heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned"? (Something like that--too lazy to Google.) I've always felt like it's the opposite with Darcy and Elizabeth--hatred (or at least a very strong dislike) to love turned means to me that you end up with a big love, just disguised in Regency manners. : )

    I know she says she fell for him when she saw Pemberley, but if she mainly wanted a provider, she could have taken Charlotte's path and married Mr. Collins. Granted, the promise of financial security and even luxury can certainly help make a man more attractive ; ) , but I think she wanted everything else, too--love, attraction, kindness, acceptance of herself and her family, etc. At the end, she tells her father she does love Darcy, and he says he couldn't have parted with her for anything less. As her father's favorite and the one he did pay attention to, I've always thought that Elizabeth would probably have had a difficult time hiding her motives from him.

    I think Darcy's letter after she rejects his proposal is the first thing that makes her start to see him in a different way. Granted, because he stood between Jane and Bingley, she's still mad as a wet hen at him, but his defense of his conduct toward Wickham casts a whole new light on his behavior.

    Seeing the grounds probably has her in awe, but I think his being so kind to her aunt and uncle right upon meeting them, without being snobby and expecting them to be as ill-mannered as he finds Lydia and Mrs. Bennet, was THE moment where her feelings really started to shift. Who doesn't adore that lovely feeling of "reforming the bad boy," and then realizing he's changed because he loves you? There's a reason romance novels return to this theme again and again! It's such a massive shift in Darcy's behavior, and she realizes it's in large part because of his feelings for her.

    I'm sure there are smaller, subtler things that lead up to the more pivotal scenes in Elizabeth's emotional shift, but it's been awhile since my last re-read.

    OMG, somebody stop me.

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  4. SHRIEK! That was so long! All I need is a stupid platitude at the end, and I could be Mary Bennet.

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  5. I love the longer posts! I feel like I haven't written so much since I was in college.

    I told my daughter that I was spending too much time on blogging about Jane Austen and she said "But, Mom, it's literature. It's good for you!" Keep on posting! :)

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  6. I don't think Lizzy "loved" Mr. Darcy until she saw him at Pemberley, which brought out the very best in him.

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  7. I also think that Elizabeth chose to dislike him after the snob at their first meeting, but it first turned to love at the visit to Pemberly. At Pemberly Elizabeth was able to see what a kind and generous man Darcy was to family, servants, and her aunt and uncle. It was an entirely different side of Darcy and very attractive.

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  8. I think Elizabeth was attracted to him that first day at the assembly but was incredibly hurt by what he said about her. I think after that she watched him and teased him and eventually, his attentions to her won her over. I think this love grew slowly and almost imperceptibly over time, but she couldn't reconcile herself until after she had so terribly torn down his initial proposal and received his letter explaining his actions toward Jane and Bingley and Wickham.

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  9. I come hear and read all the other comments, and it makes me feel as if I don't really know anything at all.

    Elizabeth can't get Darcy out of her mind. That's the first clue to me.

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