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|The letter for four people.
Written by nan duval
(4/15/2010 11:10 p.m.)
I tend to think of letter writing as a solitary occupation involving the writer & the writer's idea of the recipient. Chapter 10 gives us a letter whose text we never see, but which serves as the springboard for a lively four-way exchange. The initial paragraph sets the scene, locating the actors & describing their activities briefly. "Mr Darcy was writing, and Miss Bingley, seated near him, was watching the progress of his letter and repeatedly calling off his attention by messages to his sister." The action begins haltingly with Caroline's intermittent attempts to start a conversation, receiving either silence or dismissive answers from Darcy. Caroline's comment on Darcy writing "a long letter with ease" brings the entry of Bingley into the conversation. What started as a stuttering duet is now a more flowing trio talking about rapidity of thought & ease & clarity of expression. After Bingley's remark "My ideas flow so rapidly that I have not time to express them--by which means my letters sometimes convey no ideas at all to my correspondents," Elizabeth joins in, transforming the trio into a quartet about humility versus "the indirect boast" and a debate over Bingley's nature--rapidity, celerity, versus ductility. Lizzy's last words in the argument indicate her approval of both Bingley's hastiness and his pliability, Darcy's last suggest consideration of the importance of different aspects of a situation, & Bingley concludes the piece with a plea that they stop arguing.
I just noticed that Caroline drops out of the conversation as Lizzie enters it, & doesn't reappear till the end of the quartet "in an expostulation with her brother for talking such nonsense."
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