Friday, September 28, 2007

Chapter Forty-four

Originally published 4/1/2007.

There are some very perceptive (as usual) comments in this chapter. We have Darcy introducing Georgiana to Lizzy, and Bingley sees her as well at the inn in Lambton. Then the entire party goes to Pemberley, and we see Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst again.

Elizabeth had settled it that Mr. Darcy would bring his sister to visit her the very day after her reaching Pemberley; and was consequently resolved not to be out of sight of the inn the whole of that morning. But her conclusion was false; for on the very morning after their arrival at Lambton, these visitors came...

This seems to me to indicate that Darcy is highly desirous that Lizzy should meet his sister, since they came before Lizzy expected them. At least, I think such is what Lizzy infers from this early visit.


Meaning Lizzy and the Gardiners.

...had been walking about the place with some of their new friends, and were just returning to the inn to dress themselves for dining with the same family, when the sound of a carriage drew them to a window, and they saw a gentleman and a lady in a curricle driving up the street. Elizabeth immediately recognizing the livery, guessed what it meant, and imparted no small degree of her surprise to her relations by acquainting them with the honour which she expected. Her uncle and aunt were all amazement; and the embarrassment of her manner as she spoke, joined to the circumstance itself, and many of the circumstances of the preceding day, opened to them a new idea on the business. Nothing had ever suggested it before, but they felt that there was no other way of accounting for such attentions from such a quarter than by supposing a partiality for their niece. While these newly-born notions were passing in their heads, the perturbation of Elizabeth's feelings was at every moment increasing. She was quite amazed at her own discomposure; but amongst other causes of disquiet, she dreaded lest the partiality of the brother should have said too much in her favour;...

The brother here, I think, is Darcy. Lizzy is here hoping that Darcy didn't say too much in Lizzy's favor to Georgiana, whom Lizzy is just about to meet.

...and, more than commonly anxious to please, she naturally suspected that every power of pleasing would fail her.

An acute observation by Austen there, I think. And as Austen points out later, Lizzy needn't have worried: everyone is biased in her favor.

She retreated from the window, fearful of being seen; and as she walked up and down the room, endeavouring to compose herself, saw such looks of inquiring surprise in her uncle and aunt as made everything worse.

Perhaps Lizzy imagines that her relatives are guessing about the first Darcy proposal.

Miss Darcy and her brother appeared, and this formidable introduction took place. With astonishment did Elizabeth see that her new acquaintance was at least as much embarrassed as herself. Since her being at Lambton, she had heard that Miss Darcy was exceedingly proud; but the observation of a very few minutes convinced her that she was only exceedingly shy. She found it difficult to obtain even a word from her beyond a monosyllable.

I think that, in the minds of the neighbors, the pride of Darcy seems imputed, no doubt unfairly, to his sister. Let us not forget the Proverb that states that a man who answers a matter before he hears it is a fool.

Miss Darcy was tall, and on a larger scale than Elizabeth; and, though little more than sixteen, her figure was formed, and her appearance womanly and graceful. She was less handsome than her brother; but there was sense and good humour in her face, and her manners were perfectly unassuming and gentle. Elizabeth, who had expected to find in her as acute and unembarrassed an observer as ever Mr. Darcy had been, was much relieved by discerning such different feelings.

So Lizzy now need not fear "the Darcies" ganging up on her and, and... observing her.

They had not long been together before Mr. Darcy told her that Bingley was also coming to wait on her; and she had barely time to express her satisfaction, and prepare for such a visitor, when Bingley's quick step was heard on the stairs, and in a moment he entered the room. All Elizabeth's anger against him had been long done away; but had she still felt any, it could hardly have stood its ground against the unaffected cordiality with which he expressed himself on seeing her again. He inquired in a friendly, though general way,...

A pointed remark by Austen that Bingley intentionally leaves out any specific inquiries about Jane. That was well-done of Bingley: it puts his friend Darcy more at ease by not bringing up his past (possible) sins. I think Darcy has not repented of that one just yet; that occurs later.

...after her family, and looked and spoke with the same good-humoured ease that he had ever done.

To Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner he was scarcely a less interesting personage than to herself. They had long wished to see him. The whole party before them, indeed, excited a lively attention. The suspicions which had just arisen of Mr. Darcy and their niece directed their observation towards each with an earnest though guarded inquiry;...

Nice. Perhaps Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner noticed the confusion their earlier scrutiny had caused Lizzy, and now they mean to get information without causing a stir. That is well.

...and they soon drew from those inquiries the full conviction that one of them at least knew what it was to love. Of the lady's sensations they remained a little in doubt; but that the gentleman was overflowing with admiration was evident enough.

Lizzy could know this, too, if she only tried and didn't let a false humility get in the way.

Elizabeth, on her side, had much to do. She wanted to ascertain the feelings of each of her visitors; she wanted to compose her own, and to make herself agreeable to all; and in the latter object, where she feared most to fail, she was most sure of success, for those to whom she endeavoured to give pleasure were prepossessed in her favour. Bingley was ready, Georgiana was eager, and Darcy determined, to be pleased.

See above comment.

In seeing Bingley, her thoughts naturally flew to her sister; and, oh! how ardently did she long to know whether any of his were directed in a like manner. Sometimes she could fancy that he talked less than on former occasions, and once or twice pleased herself with the notion that, as he looked at her, he was trying to trace a resemblance...

This may or may not be true. Often, we engage in wishful thinking, that makes us see things that aren't really there. On the other hand, sometimes things are there, and we don't see them. Or they are there and we do see them. I think the middle option is not what is happening here. It's either the first or the third.

...But, though this might be imaginary, she could not be deceived as to his behaviour to Miss Darcy, who had been set up as a rival to Jane...

By Miss Bingley.

...No look appeared on either side that spoke particular regard. Nothing occurred between them that could justify the hopes of his...

Meaning Bingley's.

...sister. On this point she was soon satisfied; and two or three little circumstances occurred ere they parted, which, in her anxious interpretation, denoted a recollection of Jane not untinctured by tenderness, and a wish of saying more that might lead to the mention of her, had he dared...

But he will not dare, for reasons that have been mentioned before.

...He observed to her, at a moment when the others were talking together, and in a tone which had something of real regret, that it "was a very long time since he had had the pleasure of seeing her"; and, before she could reply, he added, "It is above eight months. We have not met since the 26th of November, when we were all dancing together at Netherfield."

Elizabeth was pleased to find his memory so exact; and he afterwards took occasion to ask her, when unattended to by any of the rest, whether
all her sisters were at Longbourn. There was not much in the question, nor in the preceding remark; but there was a look and a manner which gave them meaning.

Austen states this quite decidedly; perhaps we are justified in thinking that Bingley is thinking of Jane. However, since Darcy has not, I think, repented of his actions with respect to Jane, Bingley is still wary of pursuing her even by proxy.

It was not often that she could turn her eyes on Mr. Darcy himself; but, whenever she did catch a glimpse, she saw an expression of general complaisance, and in all that he said she heard an accent so removed from hauteur or disdain of his companions, as convinced her that the improvement of manners which she had yesterday witnessed, however temporary its existence might prove, had at least outlived one day. When she saw him thus seeking the acquaintance and courting the good opinion of people with whom any intercourse a few months ago would have been a disgrace-- when she saw him thus civil, not only to herself, but to the very relations whom he had openly disdained, and recollected their last lively scene in Hunsford Parsonage-- the difference, the change was so great, and struck so forcibly on her mind, that she could hardly restrain her astonishment from being visible. Never, even in the company of his dear friends at Netherfield, or his dignified relations at Rosings, had she seen him so desirous to please, so free from self-consequence or unbending reserve, as now, when no importance could result from the success of his endeavours,...

This statement is highly ironic, considering that his marriage with Lizzy results from the success of his endeavours. I would hardly classify that result as having no importance!

...and when even the acquaintance of those to whom his attentions were addressed would draw down the ridicule and censure of the ladies both of Netherfield and Rosings.

It would draw down the ridicule, and it does bring down the ridicule, at least of the lady of Rosings. I'm not sure that Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley directly ridicule the Gardiners. More, perhaps, on that in the next chapter.

Their visitors stayed with them above half-an-hour; and when they arose to depart, Mr. Darcy called on his sister to join him in expressing their wish of seeing Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, and Miss Bennet, to dinner at Pemberley, before they left the country. Miss Darcy, though with a diffidence which marked her little in the habit of giving invitations, readily obeyed...

I think we may interpret this to mean that Georgiana wants to invite them.

...Mrs. Gardiner looked at her niece, desirous of knowing how she, whom the invitation most concerned, felt disposed as to its acceptance, but Elizabeth had turned away her head. Presuming, however, that this studied avoidance spoke rather a momentary embarrassment than any dislike of the proposal, and seeing in her husband, who was fond of society, a perfect willingness to accept it, she ventured to engage for her attendance, and the day after the next was fixed on.

No doubt Mrs. Gardiner wanted to go as well.

Bingley expressed great pleasure in the certainty of seeing Elizabeth again, having still a great deal to say to her, and many inquiries to make after all their Hertfordshire friends. Elizabeth, construing all this into a wish of hearing her speak of her sister, was pleased, and on this account, as well as some others, found herself, when their visitors left them, capable of considering the last half-hour with some satisfaction,...

I think Lizzy reads into Bingley a little too much, although we are never to know how much Bingley might have spoken, because this invitation will have to be declined due to certain horrific events coming up very quickly.

...though while it was passing, the enjoyment of it had been little...

Isn't that always the way? The way we think we are feeling during an event can be very different from the way we feel after it. And then sometimes we blame ourselves for how we felt during the event, as if our 20-20 hindsight were infallible.

...Eager to be alone, and fearful of inquiries or hints from her uncle and aunt, she stayed with them only long enough to hear their favourable opinion of Bingley, and then hurried away to dress.

But she had no reason to fear Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner's curiosity; it was not their wish to force her communication. It was evident that she was much better acquainted with Mr. Darcy than they had before any idea of; it was evident that he was very much in love with her. They saw much to interest, but nothing to justify inquiry.

And so Austen describes the sweet discreetness of Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner.

Of Mr. Darcy it was now a matter of anxiety to think well;...

I'd be interested in opinions as to why this was the case.

...and, as far as their acquaintance reached, there was no fault to find. They could not be untouched by his politeness;...

This sentence sounds very strange to modern ears. We're all about Marianne's statement in Sense and Sensibility, "Can the soul really be satisfied with such polite affections?" I rather think that statement was not in Austen's original. Indeed, it is not. However, our sentiments, being influenced by the Romantic period overmuch, would much rather run in that vein. However, there is still a strain of this politeness even today. If you read Post's or Vanderbilt's Etiquette, I think you would definitely get the impression that politeness and good manners are all about making other people feel comfortable. That is the basic meaning of the term. Hence, a "politeness" that is such in name only, is not real politeness. It is obvious that Darcy's politeness is a genuine one, really intended to make others feel at ease, unlike his earlier behavior. Such manners, in this case, proceed from a true desire to love others and do as he would be done by.

...and had they drawn his character from their own feelings and his servant's report, without any reference to any other account, the circle in Hertfordshire to which he was known would not have recognized it for Mr. Darcy. There was now an interest, however, in believing the housekeeper;...

For the good of Lizzy, since if Darcy is in love with Lizzy (as we know he is, as do the Gardiners), and he really is the good man the housekeeper believes him to be, then it is a very good match for Lizzy. Therefore, the Gardiners should do what they can to promote the match. Indeed, the Gardiners do not do nothing, as Austen mentions in the very last sentence of the book: "Darcy, as well as Elizabeth, really loved them; and they were both ever sensible of the warmest gratitude towards the persons who, by bringing her into Derbyshire, had been the means of uniting them." Of course, bringing Lizzy into Derbyshire was somewhat of an unpredictable affair; but I rather think the Gardiners, in their own very subtle way, are promoting the match, and for good reasons. Moreover, they do it in an unobtrusive manner so as not to scare anyone (namely, Lizzy) off.

...and they soon became sensible that the authority of a servant who had known him since he was four years old, and whose own manners indicated respectability, was not to be hastily rejected...

Written like a lawyer in a courtroom, examining the trustworthiness of evidence.

...Neither had anything occurred in the intelligence of their Lambton friends that could materially lessen its weight. They had nothing to accuse him of but pride; pride he probably had, and if not, it would certainly be imputed by the inhabitants of a small market-town where the family did not visit. It was acknowledged, however, that he was a liberal man, and did much good among the poor.

With respect to Wickham, the travellers soon found that he was not held there in much estimation; for though the chief of his concerns with the son of his patron were imperfectly understood,...

Meaning the parish that Mr. Darcy senior had bequeathed to Wickham, and also the Georgiana affair. was yet a well-known fact that, on his quitting Derbyshire, he had left many debts behind him, which Mr. Darcy afterwards discharged.

Here's grace, is there not? Wickham has done little but abuse Darcy and Georgiana, and here Darcy pays off his debts. Moreover, we know what more Darcy does to help Wickham, though he cannot bear to have his name mentioned in his presence. One thing we don't know: when exactly these debts of Wickham's were discharged. It's entirely possible that Darcy discharged them after his first proposal to Lizzy, and before the current moment in the story, so that the change we've seen in him has prompted this generosity.

As for Elizabeth, her thoughts were at Pemberley this evening more than the last; and the evening, though as it passed it seemed long, was not long enough to determine her feelings towards one in that mansion; and she lay awake two whole hours endeavouring to make them out. She certainly did not hate him. No; hatred had vanished long ago, and she had almost as long been ashamed of ever feeling a dislike against him, that could be so called. The respect created by the conviction of his valuable qualities, though at first unwillingly admitted, had for some time ceased to be repugnant to her feeling; and it was now heightened into somewhat of a friendlier nature, by the testimony so highly in his favour, and bringing forward his disposition in so amiable a light, which yesterday had produced. But above all, above respect and esteem, there was a motive within her of goodwill which could not be overlooked. It was gratitude; gratitude, not merely for having once loved her, but for loving her still well enough to forgive all the petulance and acrimony of her manner in rejecting him, and all the unjust accusations accompanying her rejection...

This is a changed Elizabeth, indeed! Lizzy not only admits here that she was wrong about her accusations against Darcy, but even admits that she was wrong in the manner in which she accused him. I rather think she had not thought this way before.

...He who, she had been persuaded, would avoid her as his greatest enemy, seemed, on this accidental meeting, most eager to preserve the acquaintance, and without any indelicate display of regard, or any peculiarity of manner, where their two selves only were concerned, was soliciting the good opinion of her friends, and bent on making her known to his sister...

I think Lizzy thinks this way. The Gardiners definitely think Darcy is in love with Lizzy, but Lizzy herself does not think so, at least not completely. Therefore there is a difference between the two viewpoints. Lizzy, being in the middle of it all, has the weaker position, and indeed, is not seeing so clearly as the Gardiners.

...Such a change in a man of so much pride excited not only astonishment but gratitude-- for to love, ardent love, it must be attributed;...

This does not disprove my earlier statement, because I think we are talking about different degrees of love which Lizzy versus the Gardiners think Darcy has.

...and as such its impression on her was of a sort to be encouraged, as by no means unpleasing, though it could not be exactly defined. She respected, she esteemed, she was grateful to him, she felt a real interest in his welfare; and she only wanted to know how far she wished that welfare to depend upon herself, and how far it would be for the happiness of both that she should employ the power, which her fancy told her she still possessed, of bringing on her the renewal of his addresses.

Summary: she is willing for Darcy to bring on his advances again. However, to say so to Darcy would be forward. We need all the machinery of the Lydia affair to bring Darcy to the point where he is brave enough to propose a second time.

It had been settled in the evening between the aunt and the niece, that such a striking civility as Miss Darcy's in coming to see them on the very day of her arrival at Pemberley, for she had reached it only to a late breakfast, ought to be imitated, though it could not be equalled, by some exertion of politeness on their side; and, consequently, that it would be highly expedient to wait on her at Pemberley the following morning. They were, therefore, to go. Elizabeth was pleased; though when she asked herself the reason, she had very little to say in reply.

Mr. Gardiner left them soon after breakfast. The fishing scheme had been renewed the day before, and a positive engagement made of his meeting some of the gentlemen at Pemberley before noon.

So the gentlemen will fish, and the ladies will wait on each other. Next chapter, we see this arrangement; and as Miss Bingley will be there, we'll have some more negative examples to avoid following.

Though the lovely Susan will be visiting me this week, she won't be here for a Sunday, and so no Susan chapters. Sorry for the disappointment.


At April 01, 2007 5:39 PM, Blogger Susan said...

And, agreeing that the Darcy pride is falsely applied to his sister, I would say that her shyness adds to the image. Her silence is interpreted by many as pride, whereas Lizzy sees it truly for mere shyness, perhaps shyness that is a temporary youthful thing.

I'm not sure that Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley directly ridicule the Gardiners.

I do remember that Mrs. Hurst and Mis Bingley ridicule the Gardiners in the A&E movie, referencing an aunt and uncle who live in Cheapside. *insert shocked look* I'm not absolutely sure, though leaning towards the fact, that this is also in the book. This is early in the story, by the way, when Jane visits Netherfield and falls ill.

At April 01, 2007 6:56 PM, Blogger Adrian C. Keister said...

You're quite right about Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley ridiculing the Gardiners. It happens in Chapter 8:

"I think I have heard you say that their uncle is an attorney on Meryton."

"Yes; and they have another, who lives somewhere near Cheapside."

"That is capital," added her sister, and they both laughed heartily.

"If they had uncles enough to fill ALL Cheapside," cried Bingley, "it would not make them one jot less agreeable."

"But it must very materially lessen their chance of marrying men of any consideration in the world," replied Darcy.

To this speech Bingley made no answer; but his sisters gave it their hearty assent, and indulged their mirth for some time at the expense of their dear friend's vulgar relations.

But I don't think those two ladies ridicule the Gardiners after the incident in question. Indeed, Austen is here speaking in future tense. So I guess we're both sort of right. :-)]

In Christ.


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