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|The pleasures of 20/20 hindsight. (long)
Written by Adrian
(5/10/2010 12:11 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, No less negliegent, penned by Kathi
Although you may make a compelling argument against Mr. Bennet's decision to allow Lydia to go to Brighton, I have to suspect that many tend to think that because Lydia showed no restraint, Mr Bennet should have expected it (or at least its possibility). As you know, I find it hard to believe that a father could believe any of his daughters so lost to propriety as to let that happen, especially the daughter (no matter how silly) of a gentleman. Of course it happened in Mr. Bennet's time, and I am sure he knew it; but gifted is the father who would think so little of his own daughter: Silly? Yes. Depraved? no.
Mr. Bennet's tragic mistake actually occurred far earlier in the story, when he took Mr. Wickham into his acquaintance, especially when he learned that Wickham grew up in Lambton. Through Mrs. Gardiner he should sent inquiries. Note the example of Mr. Gardiner, when he senses a connection between Lizzy and Darcy in Lambton.
Of Mr. Darcy it was now a matter of anxiety to think well; and, as far as their acquaintance reached, there was no fault to find. ... There was now an interest, however, in believing the housekeeper;.... Neither had anything occurred in the intelligence of their Lambton friends that could materially lessen its weight. ...The Gardiners rely on their own observation of Darcy, his servant, their Lambton friends; they even check out the chief critic of Mr. Darcy's character, Wickham. The Gardiner's give an example of what careful guardians do when they meet a new acquaintance; they check him out to see if he is suitable.
I can more or less credit that Col. Foster thought he knew his officers; he did not. I can say that Mr. Bennet dropped the ball about Wickham. But although Lizzy makes a "logical" argument, she does not provide much evidence; so I can see how Mr. Bennet may have considered it just her speculations against his. Too bad for them all, in retrospect. I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree.
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