Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Pride & Prejudice, Volume II, chapter 3 (ch 26)

This should get us caught up to where we ought to be before I had my stomach virus the other day - tomorrow will be the 27th and we'll be up to Chapter 27. Huzzah!

Today's chapter accounts for the passage of time for us in an interesting way - with letters. Or rather, with an indication that a bunch of correspondence is going back and forth between Elizabeth and others, mostly with a summary about what's going on.

Remember how the last chapter closed with Mrs Gardiner vowing that she was going to speak to Elizabeth about Wickham, so here she is:

Mrs Gardiner: You're too smart to do something just because I tell you not to, so I feel free to share my opinion with you. You should steer clear of Mr Wickham. I mean, he seems nice enough, but he hasn't got two sovereigns to rub together, and so you'd do best to choose someone else.

Elizabeth: Goodness, but you're being serious.

Mrs Gardiner: I call it as I see it.

Elizabeth: I promise not to let him fall in love with me if I can help it.

Mrs Gardiner: You are not be serious.

Elizabeth: Let me take another crack at it. I understand your point. And the truth is, although I think Mr Wickham is sexy, I'm not in love with him - yet. Damn Mr Darcy for robbing him of his inheritance! Still, there are lots of people who get engaged and have to wait for money, so while I will do my best to avoid becoming entangled, I certainly wouldn't be the first person we know to make an imprudent love match if I married him. Still, I'll try to be less flirtatious when I'm in company with him.

Mrs Gardiner: Maybe you should also stop inviting him around so often - at least, don't remind your mother to invite him.

Elizabeth: You mean the way I did the other day. I understand your point, and I'll try to do what's best. I hope that's good enough to satisfy you.

Her aunt assured her that she was; and Elizabeth having thanked her for the kindness of her hints, they parted; a wonderful instance of advice being given on such a point without being resented.
Charlotte Lucas takes a moment the day before her wedding to pay a call on the Bennets - she'll be taking her leave after the wedding and returning to Kent with Mr Collins. Her nervousness about her move is displayed through her remarks, as she practically begs Lizzy to keep up a correspondence with her and to come visit her. When Elizabeth says she will come, Charlotte urges her to come in March - not even three months hence, saying that Elizabeth will be as welcome to her as her own father and sister.

We then hear about letters:

Charlotte's letters: There's less real intimacy between Charlotte and Lizzy now. Charlotte (as expected) only says good things about her house, the neighborhood, and Lady Catherine, and of course, Lizzy is curbing her tongue (her pen?) as well because she can't stand Mr Collins and is still questioning Charlotte's decision.

Jane's letters:

1. I'm here in London safe and sound.

2. I've been here a full week and haven't heard from Caroline. I guess the letter I sent her went amiss?

3. My aunt is heading over toward Mr Hurst's neighborhood tomorrow, so I'm going to pay a call on Caroline Bingley.

4. Caroline seemed out of spirits, although she said she was happy to see me. I was right about both of my letters going missing, since she said she had no idea I was in Town. Unfortunately, she and Mrs Hurst had something else to do so they threw me out our visit was a short one. I'm sure they'll pay me a return call any day now.

5. Any day now.

6. Any day now.

7. It's been two weeks since I called on Miss Bingley, and she finally came for a visit (after I stayed home every day waiting). Elizabeth loves me too much to exult at being correct: Caroline Bingley doesn't really like me. I can't fault myself for thinking that she did, because she certainly acted like she did, but when she showed up yesterday, it was plain as day that she didn't want to be here and that she doesn't want anything to do with me. I have to say that I'm not sorry to lose her acquaintance based on how she behaved, but I do pity her. She has to know how wrong her behavior has been, but she can't still be concerned about her brother being in love with me. If he were, he'd have come to see me himself. And she says he's quite attached to Miss Darcy. In fact, if I didn't know better, I'd suspect duplicity. Miss Bingley hinted that they may never return to Netherfield at all.

P.S. Have fun at Hunsford. Don't forget to write.

Elizabeth's letter to her Aunt Gardiner is written just after the narrator asserts that Lizzy is glad that Jane is no longer being duped by Caroline Bingley. Elizabeth writes a letter to her aunt to say that Mr Wickham is in love with Miss King and her 10,000 pounds. Her feelings aren't hurt, since she believes that if Wickham had his own fortune, he'd have chosen her (Elizabeth).

In a moment of sheer hypocrisy, Elizabeth has no problem with Wickham wanting to marry for money. That said, she realizes that never truly loved Wickham, since she not only wishes him well, but also feels no antipathy toward Miss King.

Kitty and Lydia take his defection much more to heart than I do. They are young in the ways of the world, and not yet open to the mortifying conviction that handsome young men must have something to live on, as well as the plain.
Tomorrow: Chapter 27
Back to Chapter 25

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