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|Darcy's progress, week 5
Written by gianni
(5/12/2010 8:05 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Darcy, the Conversationalist -- Week 5 (Long), penned by gianni
So, we've seen 33 chapters of Darcy stumbling through his interaction with those around him, with occasional flashes of open speech and a couple of second-hand indications that he can speak independently when he's familiar with those around him.
We've seen him criticized by Lizzy and Fitzwilliam for "not taking the trouble to speak openly," and "not practicing" conversing with others. Forgive me for pointing out that these criticisms come from people who are clearly confident and at ease with anyone with whom they come into contact; I think that's critically important.
Chapter 34 (The Proposal) says "he spoke well", if unwisely. Consider, though, that he's been struggling with his feelings, and I think working up courage to address Lizzy. The actual proposal is, I think, unplanned -- it comes across to me as bursting out of an overloaded heart, spewing out all the things he's been practicing silently for a couple of weeks, and letting spill over also all the doubts and queasiness that have kept him from simply coming to the point for so long.
Her refusal shocks and disappoints him; he flees in confusion. All his carefully crafted arguments were insufficient to convince her; she insists that even the (accidental?) criticisms were a factor only in the tone of her answer. Personally, I feel sure that this is the first time he's ever heard that he might be misbehaving.
The Letter, as I've already said, shows skill with the written word, and the ability to express himself cogently, concisely, and even sympathetically. But remember, he took all night to get it written (really, now, does anyone believe he could go to bed in his state of mind?).
He then disappears, apparently forever, until the Gardiners insist (ch. 42) upon visiting Pemberley (ch. 43).
There they encounter his housekeeper, Mrs. Reynolds, who is so enamored of her master that Mr. Gardiner is highly amused by the kind of family prejudice to which he attributed her excessive commendation of her master.
Darcy surprises them all by arriving; after suffering total confusion in their initial encounter, his demeanor is radically different when he seeks them out before they leave. He speaks kindly to Lizzy, addresses the tradesman Gardiner and his wife with respect, offers them all his home for a bit of rest and refreshment, offers Mr. Gardiner the use of his lake, stream, and fishing gear.
We're not granted any but the briefest quotations, but it's clear that he's at least participating willingly in conversation. It's clear that he does not (if he ever did) despise the tradespeople accompanying Lizzy. It's clear that he is not holding anything against either Lizzy for her petulant refusal, or the Gardiners for their lower status. Indeed, he invites them all to visit Pemberley, and even asks Lizzy to let him introduce her to Georgiana (who particularly wishes to meet her! Hmm.).
The Gardiners pronounced him to be infinitely superior to anything they had expected. "He is perfectly well behaved, polite, and unassuming," said her uncle. However, still not disposed to trust him, they doubt the sincerity of his pleasing behavior until Lizzy admits that there's more to the Darcy-Wickham affair than they know.
Next day's encounter wins the Gardiners over completely. Not only does Darcy continue to behave pleasantly, Georgiana accompanies him them the morning after her arrival at Pemberley -- a singular honor in their view. Lizzy's and Darcy's behavior make them aware that there is much more between them than they had thought. The visit ends with an invitation to the travelers to visit two evenings later. Darcy is assuredly not showing any sign of arrogance or hauteur.
The day after, his pleasantness continues; when he understands that the ladies are to visit Georgiana while Mr. Gardiner is fishing with Darcy and company, he joins them. He encourages conversation between Georgiana and Lizzy, incurring Caroline's jealousy, which results in a minor coup for Lizzy in calmly handling her attack using Wickham (understood by all those who know about Meryton). Again, no words from Darcy are recorded; we can infer that he responded to the constant chatter of the ladies.
The travelers leave; Darcy rebuffs Caroline's attacks against Lizzy with few words, culminating in the glowing compliment to Lizzy's beauty that we all know.
Next we see him walking in on Lizzy just as she has read Jane's letter revealing Lydia's elopement. He is represented again as solicitous, but of few or no words. After hearing the matter, he speaks gravely of the loss of the planned visit to Pemberley, wishes her well, and leaves.
Darcy disappears for 5 chapters, although in ch. 51 Lydia reveals his presence at her wedding. Chapter 52 reveals that not only did he attend, he set it up and paid for it. He is shown clearly as quite able to convince Mr. Gardiner that he must have his own way; clearly he must have talked a great deal. Businesslike, direct, adamant.
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