Friday, July 30, 2010
Reading the Classics with Paul- Pride and Prejudice Finale
Three more books and you will have completed the 10 Essential Penguin Classics list with me!
Wickham and Lydia fulfilled their usefulness to this section of the narrative and exit. Knowing them, they'll be back when they need money.
Mr. Bingley comes down to visit the Bennet house with Mr. Darcy. Of course, Mr. Bennet doesn't know that Darcy was his benefactor in getting Wickham to marry Lydia. The unspoken important character arch revealed in this section seems to be Mr. Darcy complete turn around over the Bingley-Jane coupling. Some critics have remarked on what appears to them to be a quick change in Mr. Darcy from snot to someone we're supposed to see as a hero. I disagree. I think we see his gradual change throughout.
We've just observed, in the preceding chapters, Elizabeth's character arch which brought her to a point where she would find marriage to Mr. Darcy a completely agreeable notion. With the Bingley-Jane connection, we see what may well be the last major obstacle removed to complete tranquility for us, the reader, in the Darcy-Elizabeth marriage. It is not, however, the last obstacle for the characters, but now we should have our own qualms wiped away, leaving us to root for them through the remaining obstacles to come. Everyone's happy over the Bingley-Jane match and everything is drawing to an agreeable close until one morning when a carriage arrives with that awful Lady Catherine riding in it, carrying a stocking full of pride and prejudice with which to beat Elizabeth.
It, uh, doesn't go well for her.
She came to confirm what she's heard about Darcy intending to marry Elizabeth and then to bully Elizabeth out of it (she claims that she is not to be trifled with. A phrase that always makes me want to exclaim that I am decidedly to be trifled with. I've never met a trifle I didn't like. I shudder to think what Lady Catherine would think of me as, I should think, all good children should.) Elizabeth stands up for herself, which is often the best course of action with a bully, and also, I would think, is yet another sign of Elizabeth's character being ripe for adulthood. I think this may have been my favorite part of the book.
I did not picture Lady Catherine looking like the lady in the woodcut at the beginning of this post.
Mr. Collins sends another letter to remind us that he is still a churlish boor. When Mr. Darcy next comes visiting and reasserts his proposal or, at least, indicates that his mind has not changed since last he proposed. This time, Elizabeth accepts. The last obstacle is not one I'd anticipated earlier in the story, which is to say Jane and Mr. Bennet, both of whom do a spit take at the news and need reassurance that this is Elizabeth's will. Elizabeth reveals that Mr. Darcy is the one who helped in the Wickham affair. Mrs. Bennet reacts as only Mrs. Bennet can; in this instance it is kind of sweet and funny.
They wed and appear to live happily ever after. Everyone is content aside from Wickham remaining mildly annoying and a bit leechy. Lady Catherine gets over herself after a time, completing the circle of people being better, happier people once they get over their pride and prejudice.
I hope you enjoyed this book as much I have. The next book in our reading group is Oedipus Rex by Sophocles.