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#prideandprejudice

Each week, Catherine reads through an annotated chapter of Pride & Prejudice and shares her thoughts with the interweb until it’s done. Or until she gets sick of Jane Austen. Whichever comes first. This week : Chapter 7.

‘Oh! I am not at all afraid of her dying. People do not die of little trifling colds.’


Last time, we saw Mr Darcy (no first name given) develop some non-detestable feelings towards Lizzy at yet another party, but her distaste for him is made clear when she refuses a dance he offered at Sir Lucas’ (first name given, strangely) behest.

Today, Austen chooses to open the chapter highlighting how simply being a woman at the time of the book locks the girls out of getting a penny of their father’s inheritance when the time comes, with it all going to some distant male relative. This is one of the few times so far that Austen has used the third-person narration to be so overt in discussing her themes. Personally, I’m all for it.

For whatever reason, we completely pivot from the politics and the Darcy-Lizzy-Bingley-Jane plot-line to focus on the younger Bennet sisters - Catherine and Lydia - as they make their way to their mother’s sister for what might be the third time that week. With so little to do with themselves, this mundane experience has been an education for the duo as Mr Phillips (their uncle) often paid visits to soldiers. The sight of these men appears to have flipped a switch in the two of them, as they are described as effusing with words on the soldiers. Whether this is the product of a potent respect for the military or a crush on poor Captain Carter, I’m not too sure, but since everything in their lives is about the pursuit of a husband, I’m inclined to say the latter.

In any case, this constant chatter of captains proves a little tiresome for Mr Bennet, and Mr Bennet’s chatter about his daughters’ chatter proves tiresome for Mrs Bennet. If you’re new to this series, let me reiterate my point on these two being ciphers for the unhappiness of married life for the upper-class couples Austen was familiar with at the time. First, they do not have names, not even Mrs Bennet, which is unusual considering almost every woman in the story has one. Second, whenever the two of them are sharing a room, page or paragraph, they argue. He seems to be amused by it all, but she is constantly at the peak of frustration for her husband’s far from inappropriate behaviour.

She flatters the two of them in the hopes of shutting him up and proceeds to dominate the conversation with talk of how good all the girls’ “silly” chatter would be if it led to them getting a rich colonel as a husband. This woman has one job and she is quite determined to always be doing it. Catherine and Lydia thus try to turn the chat back to fixating on the soldier’s personal lives, remarking on how some of them seem to almost be hiding from the girls in their host’s library.

Funny, that.

Before the conversation can be mangled by further topic management, a letter arrives at the house, taking us on an epistolary trip. Did I say we were pivoting away from the main plot today? I lied : the letter is an invitation for Jane from Bingley’s sister, who has taken quite a shine to her. The family argues on whether Jane will take a horse (nature’s bicycle) or a carriage, but since the horses are busy working on the farm I presume the Bennet’s use for paying their upkeep, she takes a lone horse for the journey. Mrs Bennet prays for rain to strand her child there so she and Mr Bingley can grow closer, closer, closer still…

Wouldn’t you know it? It rained.

Before the Bennet matriarch can cartwheel off the walls the next day, a servant arrives with a letter. This one is from Jane and gives the sad news that she got caught in the rain and will have to stay in bed at the manor for a few days, with the doctor coming to check on her soon.

As Mrs B frets about carriages and Mr B gamely points the finger at her, Lizzy, our protagonist, enters the fray and decides to do an altogether protagonist-y thing - going to Netherfield on foot, with the two youngest sisters accompanying her for the first leg. There’s probably a lesson here about ounces of prevention and pounds of cure, but it’s not like the farm needed those four around anyway. 

The three reach Merryton and two part to meet the wives of their favourite officers, which is weird under my preferred reading of their thoughts on Captain Carter, but does give some weight to them just being obsessed with the military in a more platonic way. Lizzy goes on to reach Netherfield “weary ancles*, dirty stockings, and a face glowing with the warmth of exercise.”

Now, this journey would be a bit much for Jane to make in her condition, but I do wonder how the servant delivered the letter, and why he couldn’t wait for Lizzy if he took a carriage, which is probable considering his clothes were not given such detail.

In the house, Lizzy is met with envious spite from Bingley’s sisters for her troubles, silent judgement from Mr Darcying Darcy himself (does he have a life or house of his own?), and dull ignorance from a Mr Hurst, who’s still having breakfast. After a little effort, she convinces the household to let her check on Jane, who is in a “feverish” state, afflicted with “a violent cold” according to the doctor. What a lot of melodrama for a sniff! Of course, I’m forgetting that medicine at the time is not what it is today, but even Mrs Bennet didn’t assume the worst when she heard!

Many hours later, Lizzy and Jane engage in a little game of etiquette. The aim is to convince the other person that you do want what you most sincerely do not (going back home, in Lizzy’s case), while they make a show of supporting her choice while nudging you to what you really want. Jane wins, and Lizzy stays the night at the manor, with a servant sent back home to get her things, which makes me question why they don’t just shove Jane in a carriage and send her back home if they’re so close to each other. She can’t exactly charm Mr Bingley while coughing up phlegm, and she isn’t in a fragile state - it’s a cold!


Thoughts

  • I remember this chapter quite well from the last time I tried P&P
  • So much drama over a cold! She could get home in an hour by foot!
  • Mr Darcy is in the book even when he isn’t significant to the plot. He is truly omnipresent.
  • Good contrast between him and Hurst, whoever that is.
  • Will the girls’ obsession with soldiers will go anywhere?

* : I do not know whether ‘ancles’ is an archaic spelling of the word, or simply a spelling error in my edition, but just wanted to point out that it’s completely intentional for the eagle-eyed amongst you.

If you liked what you read, don’t be afraid to tell me, or anyone you think would like it. Maybe grab a copy from World of Books or something to read along with. Quite a few to choose from. If you didn’t like it, let me know that too. I’m not in this for validation or anything. Come back next week for Chapter 8, where Mr Bingley finally shows up in his own house.

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Miss Bennet very often as I can.
Her daughters. Well so much. That tall proud man.

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And do you like her.
I do not know. I have heard
Indeed if it were.

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And do you mean. None at all. She could not
Determine how her mother should be through
Her means that she had rather stay at home.
I owe all that I know of it to you.

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OK but Mr. Collins wasn’t bad looking nor a bad person, he was just extremely awkward and I’ll go down claiming he should’ve married Mary Bennett because she was equally awkward and they were perfect for each other. There’s even this scene where he just got rejected by Elizabeth and Mary kind of looks at him leave like “poor thing”, “If only he’d asked ME”

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This matter may be. I thank you
Again and again if you do.
If what I have Sir.
I will speak to her
About it yourself. Is it true.

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Why could he be a little softened by
His wife and his five daughters. Sir I do
Think it is very formal. No that I
Am very formal. Mr Collins who
When I am sure. But good Lord. I hope my
Dear I think not. No my dear. Who do you
Mean my dear. You allude perhaps when we
Are better. No my dear I think said she.

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Your mother will never see you
Again and again. Is it true.
Not that I have Sir.
You will not have her.
I thank you again if you do.

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Catherine reads through an annotated chapter of Pride & Prejudice and shares her thoughts with the interweb every week until it’s done. Or until she gets sick of Jane Austen. Whichever comes first. This week : Chapter 6.

“There is nothing like dancing after all. - I consider it as one of the first refinements of polished societies.”

Last week, we unpacked what I hope to be the final aftermath chapter of the party. Today, the chapter opens with Bingley’s sisters returning the Bennets’ visit and beginning to form some thoughts on them.

The manners of a Ms Bennet (no idea which one) prove pleasant enough, but the sisters find Mrs Bennet intolerable and her youngest children unworthy of their attention. Jane and Elizabeth are the exceptions to this, and react to it differently. For Jane, the positive attention due to her blossoming love with Mr Bingley is welcome, but for Elizabeth, she feels his sisters are just being condescending to everyone, which is interesting considering they’re all in the upper class. Shows you can never have it all, I suppose.

Though Jane and Mr Bingley’s love has grown only in little glances and dances at parties in the last few weeks, Charlotte urges her to make her love for him obvious (good move) otherwise she “may lose the opportunity of fixing him” (hmm…) as men need a woman’s help to properly fall in love, though Eliza does counter this with the assertion that they “must be a simpleton indeed” if they can’t discover any of their own feelings without the help of a good woman.

Eliza goes on to criticise Charlotte’s theories on love for being centred purely on the pursuit of marriage, especially the pursuit of marriage to a rich man. It’s here that I question who exactly is Austen’s mouthpiece in the story. Lizzy? Jane? Certainly not Charlotte in any case. I must say I found admirable too see her deconstruct the core themes of the book - love, the pursuit of marriage and whether romance has any role in it for the upper classes. Not to mention pride and prejudice, of course.

It’s clear that these women have little else to be doing in their positions in society, as there is an in-depth analysis over the quality and quantity of time their sister Jane has spent with Bingley, and what she may have learnt from it. Including : his appetite, their mutual opinions on Vingt-un over Commerce (which I’m inferring is a kind of drink, possibly wine?) and whether she would be happier married to him on that day or after “a twelvemonth” of courting. It’s apparently “a matter of chance” and completely unrelated to the compatibility of their respective personalities and willingness to push and pull over mutual issues.

Spending all her time pouring over her sister’s love life, Lizzy fails to notice Mr Darcy’s blossoming tolerance of her; from “scarcely allowed” to be pretty, to being caught by the “easy playfulness” of her manners, showing a progression from observing the superficial to her personal qualities. As far as Lizzy is unaware (and I feel now is the perfect moment to remind you that Lizzy, or ‘Eliza’, is Elizabeth Bennet - second-oldest at around twenty years of the Bennet sisters - just in case you had lost track.), Darcy is in every way the man who rudely refused to dance with her, which is honestly still quite an accurate assessment of him. But familiarity with Lizzy is breeding intrigue for him, rather than contempt, in the back of his mind, (probably) stricken with severe social anxiety as it is. 

Will Austen follow up on this soon? Well, there’s another 60-something chapters to fill, so I wouldn’t hold my breath over her rushing what appears to be the central plot thread if I were you.

We move to a fleeting anecdote of a subsequent party, utterly wrecking my party:aftermath chapter ratio, where Darcy follows up on his matured interest in Lizzy by… standing around and listening in to her conversations with others. To the surprise of everyone (read : NO-ONE), being exposed to so much of his “satirical eye” simply makes Lizzy feel uncomfortable and like she has to be “impertinent” with him or fear him. Take notes ladies, gentlemen and all other dignified people, this man has such a good way with the ladies.

To defend her poor friend from Mr Darcy’s presumed barbs, one of the Ms Lucases (I’m assuming the 27-year-old, but I could be wrong) nudges her to displays her modest singing talent for the amusement of the party as she plays some undetermined instrument. Probably a flute. She is then swiftly overshadowed by her emphatically mediocre sister Mary, who is more than happy to “purchase” their praise. Transactional lexis here makes me draw conclusions of the nature of these balls. Very ‘something for something’ it seems.

And then everyone danced.

Except for Mr Darcy, I think. When asked by Sir William to join them as a compliment to the place (their manners have reached the point of flattering inanimate objects through the medium of mirthful movement). In any case, he does not desire to do this for any building if he can help it, so at least he’s non-discriminatory in his social withdrawal.

Unperturbed by this, William tries to turn the conversation toward the subject of his total insecurity with his social status via the medium of home ownership, to no avail. In order to keep things moving, Austen plonks Lizzy next to Darcy at the sidelines of the party and the good Sir tries to get what he presumes to be kindred spirits together. Lizzy is not interested, but Darcy demonstrates some character development by offering her a dance “with grave propriety” like the eligible bachelor he is. She refuses. For a couple of paragraphs.

When she walks back out of the chapter, Darcy confesses his blossoming interest in the girl who quite clearly dislikes him to Bingley’s unmarried sister. Not sure if she’s the best person to be confiding in, but maybe my opinion of her is just tainted by my alignment with good old Lizzy.

Nonetheless, the chapter ends (as does my backlog of chapters I’ve actually read through - ulp) with her barraging our favourite introvert with questions. You’d think she’d be used to him and his ways by now.

Thoughts

  • Need to get ahead on these, not finish them at midnight
  • Darcy goes from aloof to smitten
  • Still sardonic
  • I want to see a bit of the world outside of the ballroom, but I think I’m reading the wrong book for it
  • So much happened in this chapter, barely kept up

If you liked what you read : tell me, tell a friend, tell Fred down the road. Maybe grab a copy from World of Books or something. Quite a few to choose from. If you didn’t like it, let me know that too. I’m not in this for validation or anything, and want to hone my utterly rudderless critical direction. Come back next week for Chapter 7, where we take a step into the unknown together. Probably another party.

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My works for this universe are finished. to lovers of literature Jane Austen, I bring you my paintings of this wonderful love story.

Elizabeth Bennet and Darcy - Pride and Prejudice Framed Art Print

https://www.redbubble.com/i/framed-print/Elizabeth-Bennet-and-Darcy-Pride-and-Prejudice-by-rodrigotresd/64967033.L0LHG


Prints and Canvas https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/2-rodrigo-barbosa


Mug 1995 https://www.redbubble.com/i/mug/MUG-PRIDE-AND-PREJUDICE-1995-by-rodrigotresd/70969402.9Q0AD?asc=u


Mug 2005

https://www.redbubble.com/i/mug/MUG-PRIDE-AND-PREJUDICE-by-rodrigotresd/70968795.9Q0AD?asc=u


Elizabeth Bennet - Pride and Prejudice Framed Art

https://www.redbubble.com/i/framed-print/Elizabeth-Bennet-Pride-and-Prejudice-by-rodrigotresd/64967342.L0LHG


Elizabeth Bennet and Darcy - Pride and Prejudice 1995 Framed Art Print

https://www.redbubble.com/i/framed-print/Elizabeth-Bennet-and-Darcy-Pride-and-Prejudice-1995-by-rodrigotresd/70970294.L0LHG?asc=u


Elizabeth Bennet and Darcy - Pride and Prejudice 1995 Canvas Print

https://www.redbubble.com/i/canvas-print/Elizabeth-Bennet-and-Darcy-Pride-and-Prejudice-1995-by-rodrigotresd/70970294.4ZB30


Elizabeth Bennet and Darcy - Pride and Prejudice Canvas Print

https://www.redbubble.com/i/canvas-print/Elizabeth-Bennet-and-Darcy-Pride-and-Prejudice-by-rodrigotresd/64967033.4ZB30


www.instagram.com/artwithrod



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0 notes

Jane was distressed. One morning came and I
Dare say I shall get husbands. Is not he
A charming man. And it was not to try
For information. If it was to be
Put off for Mr stone. And there was my
Aunt all the time I was. But gracious me.
But my dear Wickham say. And then you know.
I was so frightened I did not all go.

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It cannot be long. I know my
Dear uncle. I who knew
What he was. Had I known what I
Ought what I dared to do.

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The officers may
Not be so. Jane was distressed.
When I went away.

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It ought to be attached to me.
Miss Bennet do you know
Who I am not. I will not be.
I shall not find me so.

0 notes

Catherine reads through an annotated chapter of Pride & Prejudice and shares her thoughts with the interweb every week until it’s done. Or until she gets sick of Jane Austen. Whichever comes first. This week : Chapter 5.

“…I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.”

We start the chapter checking back in with the Lucases, where we learn that Sir William has a powerful desire to climb the social ladder : after he was knighted while mayor of Merryton, he fled his humble business and home in favour of Lucas Lodge, a short walk away from Bennet residence. Despite these grandiose aspirations, Austen is quick to assure us that he remains “inoffensive, friendly and obliging”. I feel it’s prudent here to point out that Lucas is the only man in this book so far to have a first name, and seems to be one of the nicest men in the book so far.

Next, we learn about the rest of the family. His wife, Lady Lucas is “very good” but not clever enough to be of any use to Mrs Bennet. Together, they have spawned many children, chief among them is an as-yet unnamed 27-year-old, who’s good friends with our 20-year-old protagonist, Lizzy. Naturally, these firm friends and their families meet up to talk about the ball. For another chapter.

There are 68 Chapters in this book. So far, it’s been 2 chapters building up to a party and then two chapters unpacking the party. At this rate, about 12 more chapters are going to have actual plot development and the rest will have people talking about it.

Anyway.

In Mrs Bennet’s opinion, Bingley gravitated towards Charlotte and one of the Ms Lucases (The 27 year old?), but seemed to like Jane the best, “because he danced with her twice”, and apparently told someone called Mr Robinson (A friend? The person who owned the venue?) that he found the oldest Bennet girl the prettiest. This is coming from her mother, so I’m choosing to take it with a dashing of sodium chloride, as I don’t believe I’ve come across Mr Robinson prior to this. (Feel free to chime in with any corrections if I’m mistaken).

She goes on to berate poor Mr Darcy behind his back. That poor (possibly) introverted gentleman! “He seemed very angry at being spoken to” and “he never speaks much unless amongst his intimate acquaintance” are said with such scathing disdain by the Bennet matriarch and her favourite (for now) child, but do nothing but fan the flames of my theory. Yet again, they accuse Darcy of being “ate up with Pride” to the point where they speculate if he heard a rumour that one of the guests dared to use an inferior, less decadent mode of transport to arrive. These people have excellent priorities and don’t come across like Prom Queens trapped in an endless cycle of parties and their aftermath. No, not at all.

Ms Lucas steps in to defend Mr Darcy. No, she doesn’t refute the accusations of him being proud, instead deciding that he has every right to be proud, being rich and all “with family fortune, every thing in his favour”. From here they all weigh in on their thoughts on pride, apparently oblivious to how proud they are themselves. Only bit of interest here is that we discover the Lucas family has a young man in their ranks, who wishes to “drink a bottle of wine every night” if he ever gets as rich as Mr Darcy and then argues with Mrs Bennet about it for the rest of their visit. Seeing as he’s a “boy”, I’m imagining that he’s maybe 10 years old and aspiring to conform to the ‘Lord of the Manor’ mold his slice of society expects of him. Probably never drank a drop in his life, outside of communion wine, maybe.

Thoughts

  • Austen is really laying the theme of “pride” on thick in this chapter
  • Poor Mr Darcy
  • I should try to write these earlier, so I’m not finishing them for my audience of about…5 at 11 at night

If you liked what you read : tell me, tell a friend, tell an enemy. Maybe donate to a charity or something. Quite a few to choose from. If you didn’t like it, let me know that too. I’m not in this for validation or anything. Come back next week for Chapter 6, where the chapters begin to get much, much longer.

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