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|Gossip in P&P: ch.3-4 (longish)
Written by Line
(4/13/2010 9:19 a.m.)
2) When Bingley returns Mr. Bennet's visit, he "entertain(s) hopes of being admitted to a sight of the young ladies, of whose beauty he ha(s) heard much". Who's been talking about their beauty? As far as I can tell, the only people he's really met so far are the gentlemen of the neighbourhood, so they must have been the ones to mention it.
3) I like the way JA described this next part: "Lady Lucas quieted [Mrs. Bennet's] fears a little by *starting the idea* of his being gone to London only to get a large party for the ball; and *a report soon followed*, that Mr. Bingley was to bring twelve ladies and seven gentlemen with him to the assembly. The girls grieved over such a number of ladies, but were comforted *the day before the ball* by hearing that instead of twelve he had brought only six with him from London -- his five sisters and a cousin. And when the party entered the assembly room it consisted of only five altogether -- Mr. Bingley, his two sisters, the husband of the eldest, and another young man."
This is a perfect example of the way rumours can work - somebody hears that Bingley is fetching some relatives and friends from London to visit him, which becomes a "large" party that gets specified as twelve ladies and seven gentlemen, then reduced to five sisters and a cousin, and in the end, it turns out Bingley has only two sisters after all, accompanied by his BIL and a friend. Even here, part of the original rumour is true - he *did* go to London at least partly to fetch family and friends to visit him and attend the Meryton Assembly.
4) At the Assembly itself, we have another one of those astonishing pieces of information circulating: "the report, which was in general circulation *within five minutes after his entrance*, of [Darcy] having ten thousand a year", and that he has a large estate in Derbyshire. This man is from the other end of the country, a total stranger to them all with no family or friends in the neighbourhood (that we know of), yet everyone knows his income within *5 minutes* of his arrival. How do they know this so accurately?
Ch.4: In this chapter, the Omniscient Narrator confirms the rumour in ch.1: "Mr. Bingley inherited property to the amount of nearly an hundred thousand pounds from his father", which would in fact give him between 4000 and 5000 a year in interest. How did they know these things? I'm sure individuals didn't go around telling new acquaintances "Oh, by the way, I have an income of 4000 pounds a year", and I would imagine that this is something people could easily get wrong, yet they didn't!
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