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|Gossip in P&P: ch.1-2
Written by Line
(4/12/2010 9:36 a.m.)
One of the things I want to look at during this GR is gossip in P&P, since it seems clear to me that JA understood exactly how gossip works in a small community. I'm especially interested in seeing when gossip turns out to be accurate (surprisingly often, IMO!), and when it turns out to be far off the mark.
Ch.1: Mrs. Bennet to Mr. Bennet: "My dear Mr. Bennet," said his lady to him one day, "have you heard that Netherfield Park is let at last?" (Mr. Bennet obviously has his own sources of local news.)
Mrs. Bennet already knows all the most important facts about the new tenant of Netherfield Park: his name, marital status, income, where his family is from, plus, of course, the unspoken fact that he is socially acceptable. She also knows when, and with what transportation he came to see the house, how he feels about it, when he will be moving in, and when his servants will arrive. (Source: Mrs. Long)
I think that's pretty amazing considering neither lady has met him yet! (ch.2) I wonder who *Mrs. Long's* source is, and if her info is first- or second-hand. We'll have to see how accurate these "facts" are later on.
Mrs. Bennet also mentions that Sir William and Lady Lucas are determined to visit Bingley for their daughters' sakes, though they generally don't visit newcomers. It's easy enough to understand how Mrs. Bennet would know that the Lucases seldom visit newcomers, but how does she know that they're doing it for their daughters? (I'm assuming she's right.) Did Lady Lucas tell her so outright, did she let something slip, or is it simply a foregone conclusion under the circumstances?
ch.2: Mrs. Bennet mentions that Mrs. Long will not get back from wherever she has gone until the day before the Meryton Assembly. This is not so astonishing in itself, because Mrs. Long seems to be a fairly close friend of Mrs. Bennet's, but it's an example of how people seem to know each other's movements.
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