Sunday, September 09, 2007

Chapter Sixty-one

This is it. This is the very last chapter of the book. There's a bit of poignancy to this last post on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, seeing as how I've learned such an incredible number of things from this close study of the novel, not just about the book itself, but about the appropriateness of certain speech, and the extreme inappropriateness of much else! Part of me wants to go on learning these things; believe me, this has been a most profitable way to spend my Sunday afternoons.

I could take pride in having essentially written a book about Pride and Prejudice, but that would, hehe, defeat the purpose. Rather, let me give all the glory to God. Naturally, any insights I've managed to express on this blog have come from God. Just as naturally, any mistakes are my own.

I am also taking this opportunity to announce my next project: a serious investigation into methods of literary interpretation. It will be on an entirely new blog. I've posted the launching post, so you can see what it is about more there. It will be much like this blog: weekly postings on Sunday. The plan will be first to reread a couple of books explaining what I think are good methods of interpretation, and then to move on to debunking Jacques Derrida and the other silly modern methods of interpretation.

So getting to the text, in this last chapter, we have the tidying up of all the loose ends. Aside from Jane and Lizzy getting married and moving away, nothing changes much. We don't see major character alterations. Lydia and Wickham behave without much change, a chilling reminder of human nature. Lady Catherine, it is true, is somewhat softened after a while, but I wouldn't interpret that as a major change.

Happy for all her maternal feelings was the day on which Mrs. Bennet got rid of...

I love the phrasing there. Mrs. Bennet had to let go of Lydia sorrowfully, much to her consternation. Indeed, probably the only reason she let Lydia go away at all was that she got married. However, now that her "most deserving" daughters are getting married, she's happy! Probably neither reaction is strictly proper.

...her two most deserving daughters. With what delighted pride she afterwards visited Mrs. Bingley, and talked of Mrs. Darcy, may be guessed. I wish I could say,...

Interesting. An unusual use of the first person for Austen.

...for the sake of her family, that the accomplishment of her earnest desire in the establishment of so many of her children produced so happy an effect as to make her a sensible, amiable, well-informed woman for the rest of her life; though perhaps it was lucky for her husband, who might not have relished domestic felicity in so unusual a form,...

Meaning, I take it, that having a sensible and amiable woman about the house is the unusual form of felicity.

...that she still was occasionally nervous and invariably silly.

Mr. Bennet missed his second daughter exceedingly; his affection for her drew him oftener from home than any thing else could do. He delighted in going to Pemberley, especially when he was least expected.

Mr. Bingley and Jane remained at Netherfield only a twelvemonth. So near a vicinity to her mother and Meryton relations was not desirable even to his easy temper, or her affectionate heart. The darling wish of his sisters was then gratified; he bought an estate in a neighbouring county to Derbyshire, and Jane and Elizabeth, in addition to every other source of happiness, were within thirty miles of each other.

And we all know that fifty miles of good road is a very easy distance. Or so Darcy said in Chapter 32. Ergo, thirty miles is nothing. Perhaps Lizzy, with all the luxury of fine carriages, is inclined to think the distance small now.

Kitty, to her very material advantage, spent the chief of her time with her two elder sisters...

Meaning Lizzy and Jane, I think, not Mary, though Mary is technically older.

...In society so superior to what she had generally known,...

A sad statement on the fellowship of the sisters prior to all these marriages. Kitty, apparently, had always been in the company of Lizzy and Jane, but had not taken any benefit from it. It is unfortunate that she should not have bettered herself earlier.

...her improvement was great. She was not of so ungovernable a temper as Lydia; and, removed from the influence of Lydia's example, she became, by proper attention and management,...

We must assume, from context, that it is Lizzy and Jane and Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy who are thus giving her attention and managing her. Likely it is that the sisters' influence is the greatest here.

...less irritable, less ignorant, and less insipid. From the farther...

Modern usage would dictate the word "further."

...disadvantage of Lydia's society she was of course...

Meaning, perhaps, that Mr. Bennet really has learned his lesson not to allow Kitty within sight of officers or other foolishness. No doubt Mr. Bennet overstated his case near the end of Chapter 48, and Kitty took all those threats in a serious light. I've no doubt the actual implimentation of Mr. Bennet's plan to help Kitty was milder than he said, though probably along those lines.

...carefully kept, and though Mrs. Wickham frequently invited her to come and stay with her, with the promise of balls and young men, her father would never consent to her going.

Mary was the only daughter who remained at home; and she was necessarily drawn from the pursuit of accomplishments by Mrs. Bennet's being quite unable to sit alone. Mary was obliged to mix more with the world, but she could still moralize over every morning visit; and as she was no longer mortified by comparisons between her sisters' beauty and her own, it was suspected by her father that she submitted to the change without much reluctance.

As for Wickham and Lydia, their characters suffered no revolution from the marriage of her sisters. He bore with philosophy the conviction that Elizabeth must now become acquainted with whatever of his ingratitude and falsehood had before been unknown to her; and in spite of every thing, was not wholly without hope that Darcy might yet be prevailed on to make his fortune...

Lazy bum.

...The congratulatory letter which Elizabeth received from Lydia on her marriage, explained to her that, by his wife at least, if not by himself, such a hope was cherished. The letter was to this effect:


I wish you joy. If you love Mr. Darcy half as well as I do my dear Wickham, you must be very happy...

Ironic, isn't it, that Lizzy actually loves Darcy MUCH better than Lydia loves Wickham? Lydia's statement, as Austen makes clear a little later, doesn't say much.

...It is a great comfort to have you so rich, and when you have nothing else to do, I hope you will think of us. I am sure Wickham would like a place at court very much, and I do not think we shall have quite money enough to live upon without some help. Any place would do, of about three or four hundred a year; but however, do not speak to Mr. Darcy about it, if you had rather not.

Your's, &c."

As it happened that Elizabeth had much rather not, she endeavoured in her answer to put an end to every intreaty and expectation of the kind. Such relief, however, as it was in her power to afford, by the practice of what might be called economy in her own private expenses, she frequently sent them...


...It had always been evident to her that such an income as theirs, under the direction of two persons so extravagant in their wants, and heedless of the future, must be very insufficient to their support; and whenever they changed their quarters, either Jane or herself were sure of being applied to for some little assistance towards discharging their bills. Their manner of living, even when the restoration of peace dismissed them to a home, was unsettled in the extreme. They were always moving from place to place in quest of a cheap situation, and always spending more than they ought. His affection for her soon sunk into indifference; hers lasted a little longer; and in spite of her youth and her manners, she retained all the claims to reputation which her marriage had given her.

This statement has so much potential sarcasm in it, that I find it difficult to make out. Which part of " spite of her youth and her manners, she retained all the claims to reputation which her marriage had given her..." is sarcastic? I'm inclined to think that her youth and manners would prompt people to think well of her, at least at first, whereas her marriage circumstances, where known, would do the opposite.

Though Darcy could never receive him at Pemberley, yet, for Elizabeth's sake, he assisted him farther in his profession...

There is truly grace for you! Wickham deserves no more good treatment at the hands of Darcy than he has already had, and yet Darcy still helps him.

...Lydia was occasionally a visitor there, when her husband was gone to enjoy himself in London or Bath; and with the Bingleys they both of them frequently staid so long, that even Bingley's good humour was overcome, and he proceeded so far as to talk of giving them a hint to be gone.

I love that phrasing. It captures Bingley's nature in a nutshell, does it not? Perhaps Mr. Bennet was not so far off when he claimed that they would both be so complying that nothing would ever be resolved upon.

Miss Bingley was very deeply mortified by Darcy's marriage; but as she thought it advisable to retain the right of visiting at Pemberley, she dropped all her resentment; was fonder than ever of Georgiana, almost as attentive to Darcy as heretofore, and paid off every arrear of civility to Elizabeth.

That actually speaks fairly well of Miss Bingley, don't you think? Austen seems to paint a pretty good picture of her mind. Although, perhaps, the right of paying visits to Pemberley might be a merely worldly thing, done for her own advantage.

Pemberley was now Georgiana's home;..

As opposed, I suppose, to her occasional outings to Ramsgate.

...and the attachment of the sisters was exactly what Darcy had hoped to see. They were able to love each other even as well as they intended. Georgiana had the highest opinion in the world of Elizabeth; though at first she often listened with an astonishment bordering on alarm at her lively, sportive, manner of talking to her brother...

Are we surprised? I should think on neither count, really.

...He, who had always inspired in herself a respect which almost overcame her affection, she now saw the object of open pleasantry. Her mind received knowledge which had never before fallen in her way. By Elizabeth's instructions, she began to comprehend that a woman may take liberties with her husband which a brother will not always allow in a sister more than ten years younger than himself.

Aha. Georgiana comes out. Hopefully she is not, like Tom Bertram discusses in Mansfield Park, too extremely forward so as to scare off gentlemen that might be good for her.

Lady Catherine was extremely indignant on the marriage of her nephew; and as she gave way to all the genuine frankness of her character in her reply to the letter which announced its arrangement, she sent him language so very abusive, especially of Elizabeth, that for some time all intercourse was at an end. But at length, by Elizabeth's persuasion, he was prevailed on to overlook the offence,...

Typical male. He finds it harder to forgive an offense like that than does Lizzy, against whom most of the offense was aimed.

...and seek a reconciliation; and, after a little farther resistance on the part of his aunt, her resentment gave way, either to her affection for him, or her curiosity to see how his wife conducted herself; and she condescended to wait on them at Pemberley, in spite of that pollution...

Of its shades. You know, it just occurred to me. Austen doesn't mean the blinds of the windows, which is what I had always thought. The next few words indicate that Austen meant the shades of the woods.

...which its woods had received, not merely from the presence of such a mistress, but the visits of her uncle and aunt from the city.

With the Gardiners, they were always on the most intimate terms. 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.

Just like Susan and I are grateful to Lane and Sarah. Hehe.

Well. That is The End. I hope you all have enjoyed this romp though Austen. I plan to re-arrange the posts at some point to be in normal reading order instead of blog order. Aside from that, I would only add, God bless you.

In Christ,
Adrian Keister