Thursday, November 08, 2007

Chapter Twelve

Originally published 4/9/2006.

Chapter Twelve is so short that I decided to do Chapter 13 as well today. Chapter Twelve is simply the recording that Jane from Netherfield Park is leaving at last.

In consequence of an agreement between the sisters, Elizabeth wrote the next morning to their mother, to beg that the carriage might be sent for them in the course of the day. But Mrs. Bennet, who had calculated on her daughters remaining at Netherfield till the following Tuesday, which would exactly finish Jane's week, could not bring herself to receive them with pleasure before. Her answer, therefore, was not propitious, at least not to Elizabeth's wishes, for she was impatient to get home. Mrs. Bennet sent them word that they could not possibly have the carriage before Tuesday; and in her postscript it was added, that if Mr. Bingley and his sister pressed them to stay longer, she could spare them very well. Against staying longer, however, Elizabeth was positively resolved-- nor did she much expect it would be asked; and fearful, on the contrary, as being considered as intruding themselves needlessly long, she urged Jane to borrow Mr. Bingley's carriage immediately, and at length it was settled that their original design of leaving Netherfield that morning should be mentioned, and the request made.

We have here an interesting example of "wearing out your welcome." Lizzy and Jane both want to leave so as not to do so, but Mrs. Bennet, true to form, is not interested in politeness, but in getting Jane and Mr. Bingley together as much as possible. As if Mr. Bingley really would be interested in someone who wasn't polite. Mrs. Bennet is too impatient.

The communication excited many professions of concern; and enough was said of wishing them to stay at least till the following day to work on Jane; and till the morrow their going was deferred. Miss Bingley was then sorry that she had proposed the delay, for her jealousy and dislike of one sister much exceeded her affection for the other.

How often does that sort of thing happen? You offer something nice without thinking about the consequences, and then later regret it. In this case the "consequences" ought not to have existed. I don't think jealousy of Miss Bingley's kind is smiled upon by the Scriptures.

The master of the house heard with real sorrow that they were to go so soon, and repeatedly tried to persuade Miss Bennet that it would not be safe for her-- that she was not enough recovered; but Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right.

I interpret Mr. Bingley here to be mainly concerned about her health. It may also be because he is more or less in love with her; the two do not seem to contradict each other, at least not in my mind. He wants what is best for her.

To Mr. Darcy it was welcome intelligence-- Elizabeth had been at Netherfield long enough. She attracted him more than he liked--...

I once heard a remarkably perceptive quote on Star Trek: Next Generation, of all places. Dr. Beverly Crusher was talking to someone, I think it might have been "Q", about the way men seek after women. She said, "Men like to pretend they're not interested in a woman, even if it is the most important thing on their minds."

...and Miss Bingley was uncivil to her, and more teasing than usual to himself...

So Darcy is vulnerable, at least a little, to worrying about the opinions of others. At least he has the decency to be irritated that Miss Bingley is being uncivil to Lizzy.

...He wisely resolved to be particularly careful that no sign of admiration should now escape him, nothing that could elevate her with the hope of influencing his felicity;...

He already thinks that she is attracted to him! Way in the end of the book, we read thus, and the speakers are Darcy, Lizzy, Darcy, in that order:

By you, I was properly humbled. I came to you without a doubt of my reception. You shewed me how insufficient were all my pretensions to please a woman worthy of being pleased."

"Had you then persuaded yourself that I should?"

"Indeed I had. What will you think of my vanity? I believed you to be wishing, expecting my addresses."

...sensible that if such an idea had been suggested, his behaviour during the last day must have material weight in confirming or crushing it. Steady to his purpose, he scarcely spoke ten words to her through the whole of Saturday, and though they were at one time left by themselves for half-an-hour, he adhered most conscientiously to his book, and would not even look at her.

On Sunday, after morning service, the separation, so agreeable to almost all, took place. Miss Bingley's civility to Elizabeth increased at last very rapidly, as well as her affection for Jane;...

Ah, how easy it is to be civil to someone when you know they're leaving soon!

...and when they parted, after assuring the latter of the pleasure it would always give her to see her either at Longbourn or Netherfield,...

I like the way the BBC does this. Miss Bingley says something like: "It will always give us the greatest pleasure to see you either at our home or *snigger* even yours."

...and embracing her most tenderly, she even shook hands with the former. Elizabeth took leave of the whole party in the liveliest of spirits.

Lizzy is no doubt enjoying the hypocritical nature of Miss Bingley's farewells.

They were not welcomed home very cordially by their mother. Mrs. Bennet wondered at their coming, and thought them very wrong to give so much trouble,...

Ordering a carriage is an expensive affair, and not to be done lightly.

...and was sure Jane would have caught cold again. But their father, though very laconic in his expressions of pleasure, was really glad to see them; he had felt their importance in the family circle. The evening conversation, when they were all assembled, had lost much of its animation, and almost all its sense by the absence of Jane and Elizabeth.

This is really the first time, I think, that Austen calls attention to Jane's sense. Perhaps that is because Jane's sense is more background than Lizzy's liveliness.

They found Mary, as usual, deep in the study of thorough-bass and human nature;...

I can't but admire Austen's comedic timing here. Thorough-bass and human nature, eh? It reminds me of Bob Newhart's Grace L. Ferguson Airline and Storm Door Company. Two things that will always, now, go together in my mind, er. Incidentally, for those few out there who do not know, thorough-bass is the same as figured bass, and was the way many composer wrote out bass parts. It has a bass line plus little numbers above some of the notes indicating which chord to play there. The audience expected the accompanist, who was playing the thorough-bass, to extemporize and make up the bass part.

...and had some extracts to admire, and some new observations of threadbare morality to listen to...

I think Austen here might be referring to morality as legalism, perhaps. Mary wants to be thought clever, and here is the way to do it.

Catherine and Lydia had information for them of a different sort. Much had been done and much had been said in the regiment since the preceding Wednesday; several of the officers had dined lately with their uncle, a private had been flogged, and it had actually been hinted that Colonel Forster was going to be married.

That may or may not be interesting intelligence to Lizzy and Jane. However, for us we should note that this is the way Austen choose to introduce Mrs. Forster to us; a person who does have some small part to play in this drama.