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|Deception in Ch. 47-52 (long)
Written by Connie
(5/18/2010 12:12 p.m.)
Ch. 47 Mr. Gardiner muses on whether Jane is right about Wickham, believing that he would not have had such evil designs on Lydia.
Lizzy tells her aunt she knew about Wickham's past, but that such a consequence as this should ensue, you may eaily believe, was far enough from my thoughts. Not to bring up a controverisal subject again, but given this passage I still must defend Mr. Bennet against the very harsh criticism he has recieved at ROP for allowing Lydia to go to Brighton. Yes, I know it was a terrible mistake, and he should not have let her go, for the reasons Lizzy mentioned. But, if even Lizzy, who knew what a bad character Wickham was, had no fear of anything as bad as this happening to Lydia, how could Mr. Bennet, who was ignorant of Wickham's true character, fear that his daughter was in danger of losing her virtue, or anything else so grievous?
When Lizzy and the Gardiners get to Longbourn, they find Jane still full of hope that it is all mistake, and they will hear of a marriage between Wickham and Lydia. Mrs. Bennet, meanwhile, blames everyone but herself, saying Lydia is not the kind of girl to do such a thing if she had been well looked after. The irony is that Lydia has never been well looked after. Mrs. Bennet also claims she never thought the Forsters very fit to chaperone Lydia, although she said the opposite before the trip to Brighton.
Jane and Lizzy have their private talk. Were they wrong to keep their knowledge of Wickham secret? Jane thinks not. [T]o expose the former faults of any person without knowing what their present feelings were seemed unjustifiable. She is ready to believe that Wickham could repent his past and change, and thinks he should be forgiven and treated like an honorable man, if that is what he has become.
Ch. 48. In Meryton everybody began to find out that they had always distrusted the appearance of his goodness.
Mr. Bennet teases Kitty about being kept at home for the next 10 years. She took all these threats in serious light. One would thnk that by now she would know when her father was teasing.
Ch. 49. When Mr. Gardiner's letter comes about the impending marriage between the two, Jane thinks Wickham is not so undeserving as they feared, or he would not have agreed to marry Lydia with so little inducement. She persists in thinking the best of him that she can, despite the fact that her hopes are continually being proved unfounded.
Mr. Gardiner's letter is partly incomprehensible, since he is hiding Darcy's role in the proceedings. He says, Mr. Wickham's circumstances are not so hopeless as they are generally believed to be. Since Mr. Bennet is to take care of W's debts in Meryton, I think this refers to the amount of money Wickham supposedly still owns. This seems a lie to again cover up how much Darcy is paying out.
Reflecting on the letter, Jane tells Lizzy, We must endeavor to forget all that has passed on either side. Lizzy, her eyes fully opened to Wickham's wickedness now, protests that no one can forget it.
When Mrs. Bennet hears of the coming marriage, she is disturbed by no fear for [Lydia's] felicity... Some Pemberleans have tried to put a positive spin on Mrs. Bennet's solicitude for her daughters' getting married: she is thinking about their futures, etc. I think this line shows that, while their economic security might be a concern for her, she never thinks much about their happiness, perhaps being unable to distinguish between one and the other. Lydia has been her favorite, but she has none of the fears that Jane and Lizzy do about Lydia's future with Wickham. Lydia is married--the goal is accomplished. Mrs. Bennet seems to have no further wishes beyond this, except to show the couple off, and have them live near her. This solicitude for her daughters' economic security is interesting, given the fact that Mrs. Bennet has had to be restrained in her spending habits by her husband. Mr. Bennet is often criticised (as he should be) for not putting aside money for the future, but if his wife had been more economical in her housekeeping, their daughters would not have had to be so desperate in finding husbands.
Ch. 50. Here is the pertinent quote that applies to what I have said above:
Mr. Bennet had very often wished before this period of his life that, instead of spending his whole income, he had laid by an annual sum, for the better provision of his children, and of his wife, if she survived him. He now wished it more than ever. Had he done his duty in that respect, Lydia need not have been indebted to her uncle for whatever of honour or credit could now be purchased for her...
When first Mr. Bennet had married, economy was held to be perfectly useless; for, of course, they were to have a son. This son was to join in cutting off the entail, as soon as he should be of age, and the widow and younger children would by that means be provided for. Five daughters successively entered the world, but yet the son was to come; and Mrs. Bennet, for many years after Lydia's birth, had been certain that he would. This event had at last been despaired of, but it was then too late to be saving. Mrs. Bennet had no turn for economy, and her husband's love of independence had alone prevented their exceeding their income.
Again, I do not dismiss Mr. Bennet's blame for this blindness. His indolence causes him to continually put off his duty, in the hopes that the future will work things out by itself. But his blindness should not cause us to overlook Mrs. Bennet's.
In solitary reflection, Lizzy wishes she had never told Darcy about Lydia's elopement, not because of any lingering hopes that he will propose again, but because she does not want him to think of her as disgraced by her sister's sins, for since her marriage would so shortly give the proper termination to the elopement, they might hope to conceal its unfavourable beginning from all those who were not immediately on the spot. I really can't see how she can believe this. Since all Meryton seems to know the history of the marriage, why would she think that others would not find it out, especially given the connection between the Bennets and Darcy through the Collinses? But in these reflections, she at last does justice to Darcy's character. There is no criticism of his vanity or temper remaining. She thinks she finally sees him clearly when she believes him out of reach. Of course, she does not yet really understand the extent of his goodness.
Ch. 51. Lizzy is surprised Wickham would agree to visit Longbourn. She expects him to be too ashamed. She is shocked at his impudence when he does come. Jane expects Lydia to feel how she herself would in the same situation, and is shocked as well to find that Lydia has not changed. Lydia, like so many other characters never heard or saw anything of which she chose to be insensible. For his part, Wickham joins the list of characters who show more affection than they feel. Lizzy can see that he does not love Lydia.
Lydia accidentally reveals the fact that Darcy was present at her wedding.
Ch. 52. On applying to her aunt for more information about Darcy, Lizzy finds that the Gardiners thought Lizzy and Darcy had been working together to recover Lydia.
Mrs. Gardiner also reveals: Mrs. Younge took 3 days to reveal Wickham's whereabouts to Darcy. When Darcy talks to Lydia, she still believes they should be married some time or other, although Wickham clearly had no such intentions. Mrs. Gardiner says she thinks Darcy's real defect is obstinacy--he could not be persuaded to let anyone else put down the money for the marriage. Mr. Gardiner was relieved by Lizzy's letter, because he does not like having the credit of saving Lydia when it really belongs to Darcy. He apparently does not like subterfuge.
Finally, Wickham tries to keep up the friendly sort of relationship he had with Lizzy at the time he began courting Mary King. Even though he knows Lizzy knows the truth about him and Lydia, he is not sure of her knowledge of his past. I think he is trying to find out what she knows and how much she will reveal. But I think he is also obstinate, refusing to veer from the image he has made for himself in his past relationship with her.
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