Friday, July 16, 2010
Reading the Classics with Paul- Pride and Prejudice Part 4
The painting above is a daub slapped together for episode 4 of the BBC's 1995 production of Pride and Prejudice. It was employed as set dressing in the scene where Groundskeeper Reynolds talks about the wonderful Mr. Darcy in front of his portrait at Pemberley. It is a painting of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. Last year at auction it sold for 12,000 pounds (Americans: one British pound is about equal to $1.50.) There are some very rabid Austen fans out there (although, one might not draw that conclusion. One might draw the conclusion that there are rabid Colin Firth fans out there. You would have to ask the person who had 12,000 pounds at their disposal who felt that the money would be better spent on a prop than, you know, doing any good in this world.)
So, at the beginning of this week's reading, Darcy, Fitzwilliam and then Elizabeth all leave. Individually, Lady Catherine and Mr. Collins give rather unnerving goodbyes. We return to The Gardiners and Jane briefly. Lydia lets fly that Mary King has moved to Liverpool and will not be marrying Mr. Wickham. Elizabeth doesn't want to go to see the regiment or soldiers or what-have-you because she doesn't want to risk having to see Mr. Wickham. Mary delivers one of the oft quoted and printed upon t-shirts lines of the book "I should infinitely prefer a book."
Elizabeth is itching to tell Jane about what went on with Mr. Darcy, the strange proposal, even stranger letter, and, even strangest of all, the manner of delivery of same. Jane gets her Mr. Wickham paradigm shifted.
Mrs. Bennet checks in to list off things she dislikes in this portion of our narrative and disappears again into the bombast. Lydia trots off to visit The Forsters. Elizabeth sees Wickham after all and they talk mainly about Mr. Darcy. Then Wickham's troupe marches off to do whatever it is they do. Fight zombies or something ("Aim for the head, Mr. Wickham!") Everyone waves goodbye with diverse and sundry emotional connections.
Elizabeth goes back to the Gardiners and embarks on a tour of Pemberley when she hears that Mr. Darcy isn't there and Mr. Gardiner forcefully asserts how delightful are the grounds of Pemberley. He feels very strongly about their delightfulness. I get that. I also get making believe what it would be like to be the owner. I get that too. I do that with Conde Nast Traveler and Departures magazines. I do that with most of my photo dumps on my other blog. Elizabeth does that while touring Pemberley. Groundskeeper Reynolds has a very different view of Mr. Darcy from Elizabeth's established prejudice. Mr. Darcy appears suddenly (in flumes of sulfurous smoke) and behaves himself. Suddenly everybody loves Darcy and Elizabeth is both bewildered and feeling like a bit of a heel.
Elizabeth meets Miss Darcy the next day. Mr. and Miss Darcy visit Elizabeth at the Inn. The Gardiners catch that he's in love with Elizabeth and they plan to dine with him. Our heroes visit Pemberley to see Miss Darcy who is also being visited by Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley. Elizabeth wisely swings clear of conversing about Wickham. Bingley talks about Elizabeth to Mr. Darcy who reveals his appreciation of her. And at the end of this week's reading, we ask ourselves in reference to Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, "Whither the pride? Whither the prejudice?"
Apparently it's been transplanted into Miss Bingley.
This week's reading struck me as sort of connective material. We are slouching toward what seems to be the inevitable coupling of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, sure, but the fun is in the journey, the mutation, the transformation of the people and the relationships. The characters are experiencing their archs.
Next week, we read through Chapter 52 which, in my text, takes us to page 307.