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|caught by [her manners'] easy playfulness
Written by Stephanie
(5/4/2010 8:59 p.m.)
I certainly admire and envy Elizabeth's talent for saying just enough to give her hearer a hint of the truth, and not so much as to ignore the bounds of decorum: I was noticing it again when she told Wickham enough to leave her alone at their last meeting before the regiment's removal.
She never gives him the cold shoulder - there is no moment when a casual onlooker would guess that she no longer enjoys his company or wants to affront him. She never even tasks Wickham with being a dastardly so-and-so. She simply mentions some apparently innocuous facts, that she knows he will not take pleasure in hearing, and he leaves her in peace, with no public appearance of antagonism. He might even wonder what she means, but since he would rather not have a scene, either, especially one that MIGHT (although, he probably does not think it WOULD) expose his real character, he prudently retreats.
She did it before, remember, when Col. Fitzwilliam asked her how Darcy behaved among strangers. She turns it off as a joke, does not mention his personal insult of her, and leaves out that general disgust of the neighborhood with his manners. Mr. Darcy's well-known distaste for dancing is simply trotted out again. It is Darcy who does not take it entirely lightly, but Elizabeth will neither let him get away with his (let's face it - purely self-serving) defense, nor will she let him treat it seriously. She drops into clever, metaphoric speech, until interrupted by Lady Catherine.
And, before I am reminded of it, I know Elizabeth did not use this talent during the proposal: I rather admire that scene, too, just for different reasons! So, Elizabeth Bennett can lose her temper and stand up for herself, but she can also act the lady a preserve the smooth surface of social interaction. I like both traits!
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