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|Darcy said nothing at all. (long)
Written by Stephanie
(4/20/2010 10:33 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Darcy, the Conversationalist -- Week 2, penned by gianni
Darcy's emotions do seem to run higher this week. After all, he is trying to NOT look at Elizabeth (when has he ever avoided it before now?), and then recognizing Wickham shocks him so that "[...]one looked white, the other red." (By the way, any guesses which is which? I would guess 'white' means an angry Darcy, and 'red' belongs to an embarrassed Wickham.)
Darcy at the Netherfield Ball is a mystery to me. He speaks civilly but unimaginatively to Elizabeth at first, seemingly only fulfilling the requirements of someone seeing a slight acquaintance, then ignores her. Then he asks for a dance, and leaves on receiving her acceptance. Surely, if you are about to dance with someone, you would normally stay and fill the time until the start with small talk?
Then the dance begins, and Darcy acts like he was forced into it. He neither initiates, nor tries to continue talk, until Elizabeth goads him. Then he is suddenly smiling and participating. Bwa? Is he trying to engage Elizabeth as a conversational opponent? Then why did he not do it off the dance floor, when he dislikes dancing?
Wickham is alluded to, and suddenly I understand Darcy again. He does not like this topic, and his answers are strained, enigmatic, and reluctant. He is distracted by Sir William's hints about Bingley and Jane, but it allows him to drop the subject and offer others in their place. (Not, however, the topic of his friend's future alliance with her sister.)
His suggestions include a pass at understanding Elizabeth, but soon we have evidence that he would prefer SHE not understand HIM. He is quite cold when they part.
I grok his disapproval at Collins, Mrs. Bennett, et al. This is a piece with his disdain for the neighborhood. Even Elizabeth is blushing and vexed over such folly. But then, why does he wander over to stand near Elizabeth often? He does not want to speak to her, or he would. He does not ask her to dance again. He does not even try to overhear her conversations with others, if I understand the passage correctly. (Besides, who would WANT to overhear her talking to Mr. Collins?)
He then leaves the country for London, following Bingley, so we have no more evidence to sift through.
SO: why is he trying to not look at Elizabeth? Why is he ignoring her at the ball, if he is only going to ask her to dance? Surely all his care in not raising her hopes of him did not suddenly END. And this is public - those around them are as aware as she can be of the unusual honour Elizabeth has been granted!
Then he spends the first part of the dance silent, and only starts to revive when Elizabeth scolds him. Then his personality wakes up and we can see him as he was when talking to Elizabeth at Netherfield. Is he so in need of conflict that he must go to those who create it out of his public manners? Ha!
I am struck again with the puzzle of why Darcy is AT the Ball. This was my question at the Meryton Ball, and I repeat it: Darcy takes no pleasure in dancing, is rude (in slightly differing degrees, true) to the others at both, and seems to consider social intercourse with a multitude of people he knows vaguely as a kind of torture. I do not believe that either Bingley or his sisters wield enough influence to force, coax or beg Darcy to attend. It should not be for Elizabeth, since he believes her connections protect him from her influence. But if it were for her, do not you think this would be the worst way to investigate the attraction? So public a place opens up a multitude of dangers, starting with gossip, and ending with the chance of a misunderstanding in circumstances in which he can not be certain of keeping her attention to himself for the amount of time needed to do any with it.
No, I certainly do not know why Darcy is at either dance.
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