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|Oh, for Pete's sake
Written by Anselm
(4/14/2010 5:32 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, It was not raining when Jane left., penned by Adrian
I've read this novel about 58,002 times and that thought never occurred to me. Duh! That's me back to P&P 101! And Adrian's reading is reinforced a few lines later by the narrator's comment that "The rain continued the whole evening without intermission: Jane certainly could not come back". "Her sisters were uneasy for her", evidently because the rain came "soon" (i.e. sooner than expected), so that was a chance of Jane's in fact being caught in it.
Having thus acquitted the lovely Elizabeth of any insensitivity towards the health of her sister, however, I'm still left with her parents' equivalent attitude when they find out what has happened. I can't see how Mr Bennet's reference to the possibility of Jane's developing a serious fit of illness, or even of dying, can not be based on some kind of commonly held expectation that that possibility is a realistic one. The comment wouldn't work otherwise.
So we have Jane's father using the prospect of his daughter's impending demise only as the occasion of a jibe at his wife. Thanks, dad - that's thoughtful of you! Her mother then replies, dismissing the suggestion of someone's dying merely as a result of catching a cold. As I've pointed out, Marianne Dashwood nearly dies from one, and Tom Bertram in MP is also in danger of his life from a similarly trivial cause. These again must be based on outcomes that were realistic in 1800. It seems that Mrs Bennet is determined to get Jane together with Bingley, and simply ignores any risk involved, even when it begins to eventuate - i.e. when Jane in fact becomes ill. So I must conclude that both the Bennet parents are quite thoughtless and heartless.
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