Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Pride & Prejudice, Volume III, chapter 18 (ch 60)

The penultimate chapter of the book - my, but time has flown!

This chapter could be subtitled "Marking Time Until the Wedding". We get to see a playful exchange between Elizabeth and Darcy, and then are privy to various communications about the engagement, and finally, we see how eager Lizzy and Darcy are to get away from Longbourn (and, more particularly, from Mrs Bennet, Mrs Phillips and the Lucas/Collins clan - Charlotte excepted).

Lizzy's and Darcy's banter

Elizabeth's spirits soon rising to playfulness again, she wanted Mr Darcy to account for his having ever fallen in love with her. "How could you begin?" said she. "I can comprehend your going on charmingly, when you had once made a beginning; but what could set you off in the first place?"

"I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun."
We get a taste of what sort of relationship Darcy and his future bride have established and can expect - Lizzy teases Darcy a bit, and rather than taking offense, he starts to unbend a bit. Plus, Austen gives us some insight into what was going on in Mr Darcy's head earlier in the book - what he thought of Elizabeth and why he decided to like her. That he was strongly influenced by her devotion to Jane comes through and, moreover, we're treated to some insight on the depth of his feelings for Lizzy when she talks about his return to the area with Bingley:

"What made you so shy of me, when you first called, and afterwards dined here? Why, especially, when you called, did you look as if you did not care about me?"

"Because you were grave and silent, and gave me no encouragement."

"But I was embarrassed."

"And so was I."

"You might have talked to me more when you came to dinner."

"A man who had felt less, might." [Emphasis added.]
*swoon* I do declare, but that Mr Darcy is a sweet-talker in his way!

Then we get some conversation about Lady Catherine. Turns out that Lady Catherine's badgering of Elizabeth and Darcy was enough to convince him to ask Lizzy to marry him again, he was that hopeful she might have him. Quoth Lizzy, "Lady Catherine has been of infinite use, which ought to make her happy, for she loves to be of use." LOL!

Darcy writes to his aunt, and Lizzy writes to hers, promising her aunt the phaeton and ponies she requested and insisting that the Gardiners come to Pemberley for Christmas. Mr Bennet writes to Mr Collins, and I like his letter so much I'm including it here:

I must trouble you once more for congratulations. Elizabeth will soon be the wife of Mr. Darcy. Console Lady Catherine as well as you can. But, if I were you, I would stand by the nephew. He has more to give.
We spend weeks waiting as the banns are read (no special license after all - Mr Darcy is entirely willing to follow the usual custom), and Elizabeth tries to shield Darcy from spending too much time with Mrs Phillips (who is more vulgar even than Mrs Bennet), from too much time with Mrs Bennet, and from too much time with Sir William Lucas or Mr Collins (now in town with Charlotte, since Charlotte didn't want to listen to Lady Catherine vent her spleen about Lizzy). In case you missed it, by the way, Charlotte is pregnant at this point - there was mention in Mr Collins's letter back in Chapter 57 of it, although Mr Bennet dwelled more on the news about Darcy's interest in marrying Lizzy.

Tomorrow we reach the end, and what a lovely trip it's been. Come May 1st, we'll be starting Emma, which ought to keep me busy for several months. Oh the weird things I know about Emma!

Tomorrow: Chapter 61
Back to Chapter 59



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