In the High Peaks

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Fun with Lizzy and Darcy, or My Take on Pride and Prejudice

Because it was nearly a half-century since the last time I devoured Pride and Prejudice, I must say I had few expectations before reading. I was not surprised that I enjoyed it so much, but I did not expect to become so personally embroiled in the confrontations between characters. My emotions at times were over the top!

When Elizabeth first meets Darcy and she makes very quick judgments about his entire character and being, I longed to take her aside and tell her he's probably just shy. In other words, if people say little, how do you know, really, what they're like? I actually felt angry with her and embarrassed for her, as if I were in the book.

From that early point in the novel, my desire to prevent characters from doing their worst, kept me overly involved. "No, no--Don't say that." And,  oh, how I yearned to stuff a handkerchief into Mrs. Bennett's mouth! How I wanted to make Jane less saintly! (I even desperately desired to know what on earth Mary was studying. We never find out, not really. What are her goals exactly? Where does she see her studies taking her on the path of enlightenment? I'm afraid she's just a stock character, but Austen portrays all the stock characters so well.)

My favorite scene takes place during the time of  Lady Catherine de Bourgh's "visit" to Longbourn, when she arrives in her high-minded  chariot from Kent to lay down the law to Elizabeth. When they go onto the grounds at Longbourn to take a walk and talk, Lady Catherine morphs into the villainess I had been hoping she would become. When Elizabeth does not demur to L.C.'s class and station and holds her ground, Lady Catherine is piqued to exclaim increasingly robust protests of Elizabeth's imagined manipulations. In other words, L.C. goes off her rocker! Oh, I did love that--how rewarding it was to read it.

By the end of the novel, John Collins ("the Reverend") sends his last demeaning missive of chastisement to the Bennetts. And even he, in so doing, looks so much more ridiculously absurd than he did before, and Austen uses the word "obsequious" to describe his actions. All through the novel, this perfect adjective to describe Collins was just out of reach for me, though I searched my brain inside and out. 

I was rather shocked that the very first time Elizabeth entertains less than hostile opinions of Darcy, comes when she is gazing upon the magnificence and beauty of Pemberly. Hmmm. Elizabeth is totally human.



  1. I love your take on Pride and Prejudice. I agree with your suggestion that maybe Darcy is just shy. That was what I was thinking too. I read at least one assessment that said he was depressive. Maybe a bit, but I just think he had a hard time interacting with people he did not know. And I especially love your last paragraph.

    1. Darcy, depressive? That's very interesting. Now if Darcy were in a drawing room or living room at a party today, I can just imagine a woman whispering to another, "I think he has a little Asperger's, don't you think?"
      I agree with you that he simply found group interactions difficult and was apt to be tongue-tied, as a result. I think Elizabeth will be a great help to him with this.
      Do read Mansfield Park in September? Do you think you might?

    2. Tracy,
      I'm having trouble commenting on your blog. I'll try another browser soon. Internet Explorer is just not working. It won't allow me to have a "Profile." And thus I can't post a comment.

    3. I am planning to read Mansfield Park in September. And looking forward to it.

      That is interesting about commenting on the blog. Some people have mentioned problems, and I never thought it might be the browser. I only use Chrome or Firefox so I don't have much experience with Internet Explorer, but now it makes sense that it could make a difference. I am sorry about that.

    4. Tracy,
      I'm so glad you'll be reading along with Mansfield Park next month. I'll keep trying to comment on your blog--soon.

  2. I suspect that Mary was studying books of sermons as I recall she was always quoting something religious or moralistic. I think that Elizabeth admitting that she changed her mind about Darcy when she first set eyes on his property is just about the funniest thing in the book. I've always felt the urge to give Lydia a good slap!

    1. Hi Katrina,
      Mary was always moralizing and sermonizing. I wonder if other serious (nonfiction) books had been available to her, would she have picked them up? But really, Mary is such a minor character. Why do I care? Probably because she was such a relentless reader, and with the two younger sisters being rather flighty, and the two older ones being so close, perhaps she had to draw inward and strike out independently via books and study.
      I agree with you that Elizabeth quite stunned me when this happened! She thinks herself so high-minded, but...
      And, oh, for sure I was so peeved with Lydia toward the end when Elizabeth marries Darcy and all Lydia can do is figure out how she might profit from it.
      That may have been Lydia's problem--no one bothered to rein her in at a young enough age. The youngest child in a large family phenomenon, perhaps.

  3. As the youngest of five - I can honestly say I was well and truly squashed by the older ones, Lydia needed a bit of squashing! Books of collected sermons were popular back then I believe, I imagine Mary read those.