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|Lizzy at Home & London, Discontented
Written by Robbin
(5/2/2010 9:20 p.m.)
Lizzy, my focus, and her views and feelings about Darcy & Wickham still concern me. (:D) This post covers the events after the Netherfield ball, chapters 21 to 27, starting at Longbourn and ending in London.
Wickham’s absence due to Darcy and his contempt for her family at the Netherfield ball added to the resentment Lizzy already had against Darcy for his treatment of her and abuse of Wickham. After seeking him in town, Wickham tells Lizzy “that to be in the same room, the same party with him [Darcy] for so many hours together, might be more than I could bear” (21) and she sees the goodness in it, his absence was the better part of valor just as his refusal to expose Darcy. Wickham continues his attentions also to Lizzy’s satisfaction:
She highly approved his forbearance, and they had leisure for a full discussion of it, and for all the commendation which they civilly bestowed on each other, as Wickham and another officer walked back with them to Longbourn, and during the walk he particularly attended to her. His accompanying them was a double advantage; she felt all the compliment it offered to herself, and it was most acceptable as an occasion of introducing him to her father and mother. (Ch. 21)
In Ch. 23 Lizzy fears the “united efforts of his two unfeeling sisters and of his overpowering friend, assisted by the attractions of Miss Darcy and the amusements of London” have overpowered Bingley’s attachment to Jane and he will not return to Netherfield during the winter. Caroline’s second letter to Jane (24) assures they are “all settled in London for the winter” and Bingley instead of being saved from “a comfortless hotel” (21) at Grosvenor street instead is “an inmate of Mr. Darcy's house” which seems to confirm Caroline’s boasts of increasing intimacy and both family’s approval of a match between Bingley & Miss Darcy. Lizzy resents them all on Jane’s behalf including Bingley.
“Let Wickham be your man. He is a pleasant fellow, and would jilt you creditably."
I understand that Mr. Bennet (above) is teasing Lizzy but I am not quite sure what is behind Lizzy’s answer. Does she mean Wickham is too agreeable to jilt anyone or is it that a less agreeable man could not gain so much of her heart and then give her pain by jilting her? After the disappointments of Bingley and Mr. Collins (the second only to Mrs. Bennet of course) Wickham’s “society was of material service in dispelling the gloom” and they saw him often. Wickham now openly acknowledges his story of ill-treatment at Darcy’s hands to everyone. Lizzy does not notice that he is once again exposing Darcy although claiming he could never do it in memory of Mr. Darcy Sr. or that Darcy is no longer around to defend himself. Lizzy is pleased with Wickham’s new unreserve.
In Ch. 25 Mrs. Gardiner hopes that worry of meeting Bingley will not prevent Jane from returning with them to town. Lizzy assures her Bingley will never visit Jane because Darcy will not let him come to such as place as Gracechurch Street. Lizzy is convinced Darcy has kept Bingley from returning to Jane. Mrs. Gardiner is made a little uneasy by Lizzy’s “warm commendation” of Wickham and an obvious “preference of each other” determined her to remind Lizzy of the imprudence of such an attachment. Mrs. Gardiner makes good and talks with Lizzy in Ch. 26 but Lizzy does not wish to speak seriously at first but comes around admitting:
At present I am not in love with Mr. Wickham; no, I certainly am not. But he is, beyond all comparison, the most agreeable man I ever saw -- and if he becomes really attached to me -- I believe it will be better that he should not. I see the imprudence of it. -- Oh! that abominable Mr. Darcy! (Ch. 26)
Lizzy is not in love but if it was prudent I think she would have welcomed Wickham’s affections. Darcy’s misuse of Wickham has of course prevented any chance of it ever happening and despite her admiration she is willing to mind her fancy and not let it run away with her heart. When it comes time for her to update Mrs. Gardiner Lizzy is less contented than her aunt will be in learning:
His [Wickham’s] apparent partiality had subsided, his attentions were over, he was the admirer of some one else. Elizabeth was watchful enough to see it all, but she could see it and write of it without material pain. Her heart had been but slightly touched, and her vanity was satisfied with believing that she would have been his only choice, had fortune permitted it. (Ch. 26)
Lizzy is now convinced “I have never been much in love” because she still has amiable feelings for Wickham and his heiress. I believe her but she did have some regard for him and I think what also makes his defection easier is her belief he would still be making love to her had fortune permitted it. As far as Lizzy is concerned she has not been rejected or set aside for another. In Ch. 27 Lizzy says a perfectly friendly good-by to Wickham, even more perfectly friendly on his side than hers. Wickham hopes and advocates his and Lizzy’s opinions of everybody “would always coincide” specifically mentioning Lady Catherine showing “a solicitude, an interest, which she felt must ever attach her to him with a most sincere regard”. Lizzy believes Wickham’s solicitude and interest in being amiably of one mind is a reflection of his regard for her which garners from her a sincere regard in return.
In London Aunt Gardiner “rallied her niece on Wickham's desertion, and complimented her on bearing it so well” but also does not wish to think Wickham mercenary in his attentions to Miss King. Lizzy cannot believe it and claims “A man in distressed circumstances has not time for all those elegant decorums which other people may observe” although she certainly found Charlotte’s choice to marry for material reasons unaccountable. Perhaps Lizzy does not feel Charlotte was in distressed circumstances. Mrs. Gardiner does not wish to think ill of a “young man who has lived so long in Derbyshire” and Lizzy dismisses the notion by stating:
“Oh! if that is all, I have a very poor opinion of young men who live in Derbyshire; and their intimate friends who live in Hertfordshire are not much better. I am sick of them all. Thank Heaven! I am going to-morrow where I shall find a man who has not one agreeable quality, who has neither manner nor sense to recommend him. Stupid men are the only ones worth knowing, after all."
"Take care, Lizzy; that speech savours strongly of disappointment."
Lizzy parted from Wickham convinced that, whether married or single, he must always be her model of the amiable and pleasing and she heads into Kent prepared to meet Lady Catherine believing her nephew a villain with two new points against him. Lizzy suspects he has acted to prevent Bingley from returning to Jane and his ill-use of Wickham, a bad act in itself, ruining his prospects also prevented any sort of attachment being formed between her and him. I do not think Lizzy regrets Wickham but I do think she is unappreciative and little disappointed at the fact “the most agreeable man I ever saw” and who was partial to her was never even an option due to Darcy’s actions. What I mean is she really does not know if she and Wickham would have got on because she had to curb her natural preference and I assume she feels that is what Wickham has done as well. (:D)
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