Friday, July 2, 2010

Reading the Classics with Paul- Pride and Prejudice Part II

Well, scratch what I said about having sailed past the character development, because here comes Mr. Wickham.

Those who download my weekly podcast will know this week that the game of "whist" seems to have been an extremely popular one in the 19th century. I looked it up once years ago while reading Jules Verne and now it's come up again. So, for those of you who are crying "What is this game" and "How do you pronounce this game," this is probably why you read my blog in the first place. It is thought that the word "whist" evolved from an earlier version of the game called "whisk." Pronounce accordingly. The OED says:
"A game of cards played (ordinarily) by four persons each having a hand of 13 cards; one of the suits is trumps; the players play in rotation, each four successive cards constituting a trick, in which each player after the leader must follow suit if he holds a card of the suit led, otherwise may discard or trump; points are scored according to the number of tricks won and sometimes also by honours or highest trumps held by each pair of partners."
So now you can try it at home.

Mr. Wickham wanted to go into the church but didn't have enough money (as the wise man said, there is nothing new under the sun.) He was bamboozled out of the money left him by the late Mr. Darcy. So, where did the money go? Wither the bamboozler? Have you met our hero, the living Mr. Darcy? Ah, and now we recall the sneering encounter between the two men of last week! And, of course, given what we've seen of Mr. Darcy so far, Elizabeth laps up the story like it was a bowl of autumn vegetable soup. Also, Darcy is related to Lady Catherine. Elizabeth leaves with her head swimming with thoughts of how much she likes Mr. Wickham and how much she doesn't like Mr. Darcy. Let this be a lesson to us all. No one likes a grouch and everyone likes a smiler.

Mr. Wickham doesn't attend the ball and Elizabeth has to dance with Mr. Collins and Mr. Darcy. Ah, but is Mr. Wickham to be trusted? Jane and Miss Bingley don't seem to think so.

Mr. Collins realizes that Mr. Darcy is related to Lady Catherine. Mr. Collins does not regard this as simply an idle piece of trivia to break the ice at cocktail parties. Mr. Collins introduces himself and Mr. Darcy acts like Mr. Darcy acts. Mr. Collins, being Mr. Collins, is none the wiser at just having undergone a thorough nose-staring-down. He soon after proposes to Elizabeth. I think his proposal took up about three chapters if I remember correctly. That doesn't go so well either, but again, he doesn't get it. I envy Mr. Collins' blind optimism; if only it needn't be tied to such perfect obliviousness. The elder Bennets then take hilarious oppositional opinions on the matter.

I am really starting to enjoy this book.

But it doesn't really matter because Mr. Collins runs right out and proposes to Charlotte who accepts. And we end this week's reading with the letter from Bingley and Mr. Bennet goading Elizabeth on in her preference for Mr. Wickham.

Next week, we read through Chapter 36, which, in my text, takes me up to page 196.  Enjoy!


  1. One of the things that really bothered me was how upset Elizabeth was with Charlotte for accepting Mr. Collins proposal. After all Elizabeth wanted nothing to do with him, should her friend have some happiness? It seems these people were very absorbed with themselves, although there are still people like that today it seems like everyone in this story was pretty much into themself.

  2. Yes, I had that same reaction to her reaction. In that way that satire has, we seem to be seeing less attractive sides of our heroine.