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|Agitations & Affirmation - Wickham
Written by Robbin
(5/21/2010 1:15 p.m.)
This is a continuation of my focus, Lizzy’s changing feelings about the men in her life, in chapters 39 to 41. At this point Col Fitzwilliam, “agreeable as he was, she did not mean to be unhappy about him” (34) is mostly forgotten and left to the past at Hunsford. He is no longer an object in himself. The “agitations of former partiality” (41) for Wickham are entirely gone, her romantic illusions and compassion destroyed by the wonders in Darcy’s letter but she cannot quite leave him in the past as Kitty & Lydia frequently mention his name as the sisters (minus Mary and plus Maria Lucas) travel from an inn to Longbourn (39). Lizzy’s feelings about Darcy are mixed. I don’t think she cares for his general manners towards others or his scruples about her connections but she also regrets her unjustified accusations against him, the pain he suffered at her refusal and she feels a gratitude for his offer and regard.
After being forced to keep her own counsel for a fortnight Lizzy finally has the chance to tell Jane what happened between her and Darcy, his revelations about Wickham and her belief she had “been so very weak and vain and nonsensical” and prejudiced (40) about them both. Jane’s wish to clear both of bad conduct prompts Lizzy to take Darcy’s side:
“There is but such a quantity of merit between them; just enough to make one good sort of man; and of late it has been shifting about pretty much. For my part, I am inclined to believe it all Mr. Darcy's… One has got all the goodness, and the other all the appearance of it.” (40)
Lizzy’s next manly encounter is with Wickham in Ch. 41. I think it was embarrassing to Lizzy to meet with him again with her new knowledge of him and she is rather agitated. Lizzy is forced to realize the gentleness in Wickham’s address she had so admired appears to be nothing more than an affectation with a “sameness to disgust and weary”. Lizzy “lost all concern for him” when he tried to renew her partiality with what she sees as an “idle and frivolous gallantry”. Lizzy feels reproof towards her own prior behavior in his believing her “vanity would be gratified, and her preference secured at any time” despite what had passed (Miss King) to provoke her. Lizzy “steadily repressed” her lack of concern for him meaning, I think, that Lizzy tried to behave as if her opinion of him had not changed from their last meeting before she departed for Hunsford.
I think Lizzy now believes Wickham’s attentions to her were never based on any genuine regard for her as a person and I have to agree. I feel that he attended Lizzy at times to sooth his vanity, she is attractive and compassionate but he also needed an ally and she was a great source of information about Darcy—in attending Lizzy he killed several birds with one stone. At their last meeting, Lizzy, “little… disposed to part from him in good-humour” hints to Wickham that she may have learned of his deceit at Hunsford from Darcy and Col Fitzwilliam. She praises the colonel warmly and says of Darcy “In essentials, I believe, he is very much what he ever was” to Wickham’s displeasure, embarrassment and alarm. Wickham, “in the gentlest of accents” abuses Darcy and tries to “engage her on the old subject of his grievances” but she was “in no humour to indulge him”. They part civility but he does not try to distinguish her again.
Lizzy wishes to never meet with Wickham again. I think her meetings with Wickham supply hard evidence of all she surmised about his behavior and deceits from Darcy’s letter. Col Fitzwilliam while fondly remembered was only resurrected after leaving Hunsford as a way to alarm Wickham. I still think she views Darcy through a mixture of feelings as I said at the top of this message but it is interesting that she felt the need to take his side when Jane wished to clear both him and Darcy from wrongdoing. (;D)
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