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|Lizzy at the Assembly through Lucas Lodge
Written by Robbin
(4/15/2010 12:06 a.m.)
My focus is dear Lizzy and I want to try, I emphasize try to get a handle on her view of Darcy. This post starts at the beginning, the assembly (3) and carries on through the party at Lucas Lodge in (6). As the text does not suggest otherwise Lizzy must have been as happy to think well of Darcy as everyone else at the assembly until his manners told another story. Their first interaction is forced on them both by Bingley’s gallantry. As she later tells Charlotte, “I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine” (5) referring, I think, to her emotions when it happened. Lizzy sits with as much dignity as a lady without a partner might be supposed to own and was probably amused at Bingley’s coming from the dance to raze Darcy on his fastidiousness until realizing she had become the object of their conversation. Bingley’s obliging recommendation that she is “very pretty, and I dare say very agreeable” (3) seems only to inspire Darcy’s pique:
"Which do you mean?" and turning round, he looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till catching her eye, he withdrew his own and coldly said, "She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. You had better return to your partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me." (3)
Darcy’s shocking rudeness; the why of it and how it is inexcusable always receives a great deal of attention but I think dear Lizzy hardly ever gets her fair share of recognition for forbearance in a truly mortifying situation. In a moment she finds herself being examined by Darcy, meeting his eye and being coldly dismissed so he can render his judgment of her to Bingley. As I see it Lizzy can only listen in silence. Leaving the area in the mist of this would just draw more attention to her but fortunately Darcy unknowingly does her a good turn in chasing Bingley back to the dance and then also walking off:
Elizabeth remained with no very cordial feelings towards him. She told the story, however, with great spirit among her friends; for she had a lively, playful disposition, which delighted in any thing ridiculous. (3)
Lizzy’s lack of warm, sincere and friendly feelings towards Darcy is quite justified; he quite deftly demonstrated he does not deserve any, at least from her. I guess Lizzy’s options at this point can’t really be corralled but two immediately call upon my notice. She can keep the incident to herself or she can expose Darcy’s ill spoken judgment of her society, her peers and herself. Of course she chooses the later and I confess some admiration of her style. It is a type of revenge but one rather appropriate in my opinion. Darcy spoke his mind about Lizzy in a public place apparently without concern to who might hear him and Lizzy points out the ridiculousness of his attitude and position to her friends. Lizzy does promise her mother, “I believe, ma'am, I may safely promise you never to dance with him” (5).
“She has known him only a fortnight. She danced four dances with him at Meryton [the assembly]; she saw him one morning at his own house, and has since dined in company with him four times” (6)
Lizzy & Darcy’s next meetings are off stage but the nature of these events is revealed indirectly thought a discussion about Jane & Bingley—see above. I assume Lizzy & Darcy were both present at these encounters. Of course this tells us little about what actually happened but they are finally introduced at some point because by Ch. 6 they are acquainted. Some of this history can be gleamed from Lizzy & Darcy. At their first meeting after the assembly “he looked at her only to criticize” (6) but despite making “it clear to himself and his friends that she had hardly a good feature in her face” (6) over the course of these meetings he found her face and subsequently her figure to be pleasing and her playful unfashionable manners captivating.
“…he was only the man who made himself agreeable nowhere, and who had not thought her handsome enough to dance with” (6)
It seems to me Darcy spent a great deal of time staring at Lizzy and the thing is she is aware it. Unlike Darcy, Lizzy’s feelings have not improved and she thinks his staring at her and clandestine listening is not particularly friendly. When she noticed Darcy had been listening to her “conversation with Colonel Forster” (6) she also says “He has a very satirical eye” (6) suggesting he looks at her only to criticize which of course he had been at one point. After all she knows his opinion of her and she knows “what he is about” (6). With Charlotte’s encouragement she confronts Darcy about what he heard her say, teases him and suggests he is “severe on us [ladies]” (6) until Charlotte sits her at the pianoforte. When Sir William gallantly tries to bring Lizzy & Darcy together for a dance, Lizzy says “I entreat you not to suppose that I moved this way in order to beg for a partner” (6) which I think is partly inspired because she does not want his attention nor him believing she does and partly because she does not want to dance with him. Lizzy has made up her mind to give Darcy no fodder for criticism or ridicule—at this point I feel she is a bit defensive. Lizzy does not trust Darcy and I can’t think of a reason why she should. (;D)
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