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|Wilfull ignorance/deception in Ch. 19-23 (long)
Written by Connie
(4/21/2010 12:34 p.m.)
I did a search on the word "wilfull" in the text, and came up with 7 instances of its being used, some of them yet to come. This is turning out to be an even bigger theme than I thought at first. Thus far, I think every character has deceived, been deceived, or misunderstood another. Here is my summary for the rest of this week's reading.
1. Darcy. Darcy is a main topic of conversation in Ch. 16, but he does not come into our reading until 2 chapters later. He does very little to defend himself against Wickham, although he is defended by Caroline and her brother. Darcy seemed desirous of changing the subject. We will have to wait to see why. Then we have this exchange:
"I remember hearing you once say, Mr. Darcy, that you hardly ever forgave, that your resentment once created was unappeasable. You are very cautious, I suppose, as to its being created."
"I am," said he, with a firm voice.
"And never allow yourself to be blinded by prejudice?"
"I hope not."
"It is particularly incumbent on those who never change their opinion, to be secure of judging properly at first."
Here Darcy, without knowing what Wickham said about him, defends his character against the motives Wickham attirbuted to him. If Darcy speaks the truth about his character, then he has no understandable motive in mistreating Wickham--but we don't know yet which of them speaks the truth.
2. Lizzy. Although in Ch. 16-17 she took Wickham's words at face value, she gives Darcy a chance to tell his side in the conversation above. However, she does not confront him directly with Wickham's story. Has she felt a prick of conscience?
She accuses Bingley of "blind partiality" for his belief in Darcy (!) and accuses Caroline of "wilfull ignorance"--both to herself.
On the dance floor, she again teasingly says something she cannot really believe: We are each of an unsocial, taciturn disposition, unwilling to speak, unless we expect to say something that will amaze the whole room, and be handed down to posterity with all the éclat of a proverb.
Lizzy persists in believing Darcy does not like her. She must think his resentment is formed for more trivial reasons than he avows, which goes along with her belief of Wickham.
3. Mrs. Bennet. No new revelations of her character. She says she prefers staying home (Ch. 18) and has no great inclination for talking (Ch. 20), neither of which can be taken seriously. At first refusing to believe Charlotte and Mr. Collins are married, she later was very sure that Mr. Collins had been taken in.
4. Caroline. Besides her belief in Mr. Darcy, which is a wilfull one I believe, whether her trust proves correct or not, Caroline tries to persuade Jane that Bingley "admires" Miss Darcy. She also feins sincerity: I do not pretend to regret anything I shall leave in Hertfordshire except your society.... All this is in her letter in Ch. 21.
5. Jane. She believes everything Caroline writes, saying she is incapable of wilfully deceiving anyone. She is a little surprised by Charlotte's acceptance of Mr. Collins. She tries to conceal her fears and sufferings regarding Bingley (Ch. 23).
5. Wickham. Despite his earlier protests that Darcy could not drive him away, Wickham does not come to the ball at Netherfield. In Ch. 21 he says he decided it was better not to face Darcy, for other people's comfort. Was this his real motive? We can't know yet.
6. Mr. Collins. He refuses to accept Lizzy's refusal (Ch. 19). His regard for her was quite imaginary. In Ch. 22 he slinks out of the house to propose to Charlotte, so he won't be embarassed if she also refuses him. She meets him "accidentally". He promises secrecy until Charlotte can speak to Lizzy.
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