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|Letters, letters, letters...long, long, long...
Written by nan duval
(4/26/2010 9:49 p.m.)
This week's segment is a bona fide jackpot of letters (my focus). Some are given in their entirety, others paraphrased, others only appearing as props. I counted only 6 letters in the previous 2 weeks. This week we exceed that in the first 3 chapters.
Chapter 24 begins with a reference to Caroline's turn of the screw. Only 2 lines suffice to summarize the important ideas: "The very first sentence conveyed the assurance of their being all settled in London for the winter, and concluded with her brother's regret at not having had time to pay his respects to his friends in Hertfordshire before he left the country." I wonder how much Bingley needed to plead to have the heartless... er his sister include even that pleasantry.
In Chapter 26 Charlotte says:
"I shall depend on hearing from you very often, Eliza." I sense more sincerity in this than in CB's expectation of a very "unreserved correspondence" way back in chapter 21. Of course, Lizzie's correspondence will be Charlotte's lifeline to rational communication where CB anticipated a world of interesting activities. Letters from Charlotte are apparently as cryptic as if she were in a POW camp & they were all read & censored by the guards. "She wrote cheerfully, seemed surrounded with comforts, and mentioned nothing which she could not praise. The house, furniture, neighborhood, and roads were all to her taste, and lady Catherine's behaviour was most friendly and obliging. It was Mr. Collins's picture of Hunsford and Rosings rationally softened."
"Jane had already written a few lines to her sister to announce their safe arrival in London;" her second letter disappointed Lizzie's hopes that Jane had seen Bingley or even Caroline, with Jane, predictably making excuses for her. Jane's next letter to Lizzie recounts her trip to visit the frosty Caroline. We are given the full text of her next letter after Caroline's return of the visit. This letter is so full of the spirit of Jane that it's almost heartbreaking. She addresses Lizzie affectionately, recounts the events of the visit, tries to put the best spin on Caroline's desire to separate Bingley from Jane & expresses only sadness & pity at Caroline's dumping her. Anger is left to Lizzie, & of course the reader.
During this time Lizzie has also been apparently maintaining a correspondence with her aunt, Mrs Gardiner, & the next letter is from Mrs Gardiner to remind "Elizabeth of her promise concerning" Wickham--that she would keep her informed of their acquaintance, so Lizzie informs her aunt that Wickham has transferred his affections from her to 10K pounds. I love the delicious way she finishes her letter, "I am now convinced, my dear aunt, that I have never been much in love; for had I really experienced that pure and elevating passion, I should at present detest his very name, and wish him all manner of evil. but my feelings are not only cordial towards him; they are even impartial towards Miss King. I cannot find out that I hate her at all, or that I am in the least unwilling to think her a very good sort of girl." Wisdom seasoned with a tasty dose of irony--yum!
So ends the very epistolatory chapter 26. Indeed, most of the action in this chapter is conveyed through its many letters. I think the reason for this is that all the people with whom Lizzie is interested in communicating are far away. She is the sun in this little solar system of people orbiting & sending back reports.
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