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|She seems a little harsh to me, but not mean.
Written by Chandra S
(4/8/2013 12:27 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Chapter 4. Lizzy - what is she thinking?, penned by mikeB in Japan
In the statements you quoted, it appears to me that Elizabeth is a little bit prideful about her own intelligence and rather likes looking down on the "stupidity" of others, but not in a mean way. More like a "I have really high standards of intelligence and most people don't meet them but I'll still be very polite and considerate of their feelings" way. Not terribly nice, but not with any intention of ever hurting anyone.
In the first instance, I think she means to compliment her sister by implying that Bingley asking her to a second pair of dances was not because there was anything especially polite or gallant about Bingley, just that he had eyes to see that Jane is very pretty. So, the implication is that Bingley is not special, but Jane is. She does seem to love her sister very much.
"You have liked many a stupider person" is especially what makes me think she has very high standards for what she would call an intelligent person. My guess is that this shows what Mary says in Ch. 5, "there are very few of us who do not cherish a feeling of self-complacency on the score of some quality or other" - Elizabeth noticing that some of the people that Jane has liked are intellectually inferior gives her that feeling of self-complacency. It can feel nice to know people that you can feel "smarter than."
What I notice more about this exchange is the line "you are a great deal too apt, you know, to like people in general." It always makes me wonder if Elizabeth is a little too proud of her discernment, and it makes her too apt to not like people in general. Again, this doesn't seem mean-spirited to me, just a little harsh. Maybe her standards are too high for who counts as "smart enough" to be liked.
In her judgments about Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst, I think she is just aware of the fact that they were not overly polite or social to anyone but Jane. Since they were very very nice to Jane, (and Jane really does seem to like almost everyone), Jane is a little "blinded" to their seeming arrogance. That arrogance may just be Elizabeth's "first impression" of the ladies, but I think the line about her being "unassailed by attention to herself" is meant to say that she thinks she sees them far more clearly than Jane does.
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