Friday, October 19, 2007

Chapter Twenty-six, Part Two

Originally published 10/8/2006.

Continued from last post.

Jane had already written a few lines to her sister to announce their safe arrival in London; and when she wrote again, Elizabeth hoped it would be in her power to say something of the Bingleys.

Her impatience for this second letter was as well rewarded as impatience generally is...

That is, not much.

...Jane had been a week in town without either seeing or hearing from Caroline. She accounted for it, however, by supposing that her last letter to her friend from Longbourn had by some accident been lost.

A view that she later thinks is confirmed; however, Miss Bingley is very turned off from Jane since she wants Bingley to marry Miss Darcy instead. I don't think I would put it past her, even in that age, to, hehe, "accidentally misplace" Jane's letter.

"My aunt," she continued, "is going to-morrow into that part of the town, and I shall take the opportunity of calling in Grosvenor Street."

She wrote again when the visit was paid, and she had seen Miss Bingley. "I did not think Caroline in spirits," were her words, "but she was very glad to see me, and reproached me for giving her no notice of my coming to London. I was right, therefore, my last letter had never reached her...

See my earlier comments.

...I inquired after their brother, of course. He was well, but so much engaged with Mr. Darcy that they scarcely ever saw him. I found that Miss Darcy was expected to dinner. I wish I could see her. My visit was not long, as Caroline and Mrs. Hurst were going out. I dare say I shall see them soon here."

We can see that Jane puts everything in the best possible light. Lizzy thinks otherwise, and therefore interprets everything differently, an interesting example of assumptions governing interpretation. Lizzy's interpretation follows:

Elizabeth shook her head over this letter. It convinced her that accident only could discover to Mr. Bingley her sister's being in town.

Four weeks passed away, and Jane saw nothing of him. She endeavoured to persuade herself that she did not regret it; but she could no longer be blind to Miss Bingley's inattention...

Even Jane, of whom it is said in the very last chapter of the book that she and her husband could at length proceed "so fas as to talk of giving them a hint to be gone," is finally conquered by four weeks, which apparently in that time woudl have been an absolutely unforgiveable amount of time for acquaintances to ignore one another.

...After waiting at home every morning for a fortnight, and inventing every evening a fresh excuse for her, the visitor did at last appear; but the shortness of her stay, and yet more, the alteration of her manner would allow Jane to deceive herself no longer. The letter which she wrote on this occasion to her sister will prove what she felt.

"My dearest Lizzy will, I am sure, be incapable of triumphing in her better judgement, at my expense, when I confess myself to have been entirely deceived in Miss Bingley's regard for me...

I can't help but find this funny. Either Jane truly believes this (that Lizzy will not triumph), or she is afraid Lizzy will crow at her superior judgment and thus heads it off.

...But, my dear sister, though the event has proved you right, do not think me obstinate if I still assert that, considering what her behaviour was, my confidence was as natural as your suspicion. I do not at all comprehend her reason for wishing to be intimate with me; but if the same circumstances were to happen again, I am sure I should be deceived again. Caroline did not return my visit till yesterday; and not a note, not a line, did I receive in the meantime. When she did come, it was very evident that she had no pleasure in it; she made a slight, formal apology, for not calling before, said not a word of wishing to see me again, and was in every respect so altered a creature, that when she went away I was perfectly resolved to continue the acquaintance no longer. I pity, though I cannot help blaming her. She was very wrong in singling me out as she did;...

Why did Miss Bingley single Jane out? Probably for selfish reasons. Jane was the prettiest girl in town, which would imply that she was the most sought-after by the young men, which means that if Miss Bingley wants to attract the attention of such young men (like, oh, Mr. Darcy for example), clearly her best bet is to befriend the most up-and-coming girl in the neighborhood. It's just a theory, but I think it not unreasonable. If so, it's clearly a wrong reason to make a friend, it being based on so fleeting a thing as beauty and vanity.

...I can safely say that every advance to intimacy began on her side. But I pity her, because she must feel that she has been acting wrong, and because I am very sure that anxiety for her brother is the cause of it. I need not explain myself farther; and though we know this anxiety to be quite needless, yet if she feels it, it will easily account for her behaviour to me; and so deservedly dear as he is to his sister, whatever anxiety she must feel on his behalf is natural and amiable. I cannot but wonder, however, at her having any such fears now, because, if he had at all cared about me, we must have met, long ago...

Ah, but we know, unlike Jane, that Mr. Bingley does not know she is in town, and Austen points half of this out immediately.

...He knows of my being in town, I am certain, from something she said herself;...

Ergo, Miss Bingley is lying through her teeth. Perhaps it's just as well, for now, that Jane thinks this way, so as to kill all hope. From the point of view of Jane, now is not a good time to hope for his attentions, since Darcy and Miss Bingley hold such sway over him in a different direction.

...and yet it would seem, by her manner of talking, as if she wanted to persuade herself that he is really partial to Miss Darcy...

I think the emphasis is on the word "herself."

...I cannot understand it. If I were not afraid of judging harshly, I should be almost tempted to say that there is a strong appearance of duplicity in all this...

Bingo, though she is right to doubt herself, and judge such things very slowly.

...But I will endeavour to banish every painful thought, and think only of what will make me happy-- your affection, and the invariable kindness of my dear uncle and aunt. Let me hear from you very soon. Miss Bingley said something of his never returning to Netherfield again, of giving up the house, but not with any certainty. We had better not mention it...

To do so would only irritate Mrs. Bennet if they did so when she got back.

...I am extremely glad that you have such pleasant accounts from our friends at Hunsford. Pray go to see them, with Sir William and Maria. I am sure you will be very comfortable there.-- Yours, etc."

This letter gave Elizabeth some pain; but her spirits returned as she considered that Jane would no longer be duped, by the sister at least. All expectation from the brother was now absolutely over. She would not even wish for a renewal of his attentions. His character sunk on every review of it; and as a punishment for him, as well as a possible advantage to Jane, she seriously hoped he might really soon marry Mr. Darcy's sister, as by Wickham's account, she would make him abundantly regret what he had thrown away.

Lizzy does the opposite of Jane and judges perhaps a bit too quickly. However, it is understandable since Jane wrote that Mr. Bingley knew she was in town. Since we know otherwise, we can see that Lizzy is wrong here. In Chapter Fifty-five, when Jane tells Lizzy that she discovered this ignorance on the part of Bingley, Lizzy perhaps does not reply in the best manner, merely indicating, "I suspected as much." To me, there seems a little bit of a hint of superiority there, but I could be wrong. Maybe Lizzy is only trying to protect Mr. Darcy. She asks Jane how he accounted for it, and she tells her.

Mrs. Gardiner about this time reminded Elizabeth of her promise concerning that gentleman,...

Meaning Wickham.

...and required information; and Elizabeth had such to send as might rather give contentment to her aunt than to herself. His apparent partiality had subsided, his attentions were over, he was the admirer of some one else. Elizabeth was watchful enough to see it all, but she could see it and write of it without material pain. Her heart had been but slightly touched, and her vanity was satisfied with believing that she would have been his only choice, had fortune permitted it. The sudden acquisition of ten thousand pounds was the most remarkable charm of the young lady to whom he was now rendering himself agreeable; but Elizabeth, less clear-sighted perhaps in this case than in Charlotte's,...

Interesting, is it not? So then what really is the difference between Charlotte's actions and Mrs. Gardiner's wishes on the one hand, and Mr. Wickham's actions on the other? Again, Lizzy and Mrs. Gardiner will hash some of this out next chapter.

...did not quarrel with him for his wish of independence. Nothing, on the contrary, could be more natural; and while able to suppose that it cost him a few struggle to relinquish her, she was ready to allow it a wise and desirable measure for both, and could very sincerely wish him happy.

All this was acknowledged to Mrs. Gardiner; and after relating the circumstances, she thus went on:-- "I am now convinced, my dear aunt, that I have never been much in love; for had I really experiences...

Textual variant: my Everyman's Library says "experienced," which certainly makes more sense.

...that pure and elevating passion, I should at present detest his very name, and wish him all manner of evil. But my feelings are not only cordial towards him; they are even impartial towards Miss King. I cannot find out that I hate her at all, or that I am in the least unwilling to think her a very good sort of girl. There can be no love in all this. My watchfulness has been effectual; and though I certainly should be a more interesting object to all my acquaintances were I distractedly in love with him, I cannot say that I regret my comparative insignificance. Importance may sometimes be purchased too dearly. Kitty and Lydia take his defection much more to heart than I do. They are young in the ways of the world,...

Probably said with a view to aggrandizing her much more mature age 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."


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home