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|Reader’s knowledge vs. Lizzy’s: The Bennets
Written by amytat
(4/20/2013 3:35 p.m.)
Much of what we learn from the narrator about the Bennets may be things Lizzy would easily guess but if she doesn’t hear or observe it directly I’m going to treat it as information she doesn’t have.
Mr. Bennet's expectations were fully answered. His cousin was as absurd as he had hoped, and he listened to him with the keenest enjoyment, maintaining at the same time the most resolute composure of countenance, and, except in an occasional glance at Elizabeth, requiring no partner in his pleasure. But his enjoyment is short lived, “By tea-time, however, the dose had been enough, and Mr. Bennet was glad to take his guest into the drawing-room again, and, when tea was over, glad to invite him to read aloud to the ladies. The next day Mr. Bennet is “most anxious to get rid of him, and have his library to himself” and requests that he attend his daughters as they walk to Meryton. After the Netherfield ball while the Bennets are waiting for their carriages, Bingley’s sisters are evidently impatient for them to leave and repulsing every attempt of Mrs. Bennet at conversation while Mr. Collins is making long speeches, and we are told Mr. Bennet “was enjoying the scene.”
After these brief insights I don’t find Mr. Bennet very likeable, enjoying the absurdities of his guest and then dumping him on his daughters when he gets tired of him. Somehow his enjoyment of follies and nonsense feel a bit more mean spirited to me than Lizzy’s. He enjoys watching his wife get snubbed and his cousin bore and annoy everyone.
The next morning she and Mr. Collins talk alone and he tells her of his hope to marry one her daughters which, “produced from her, amid very complaisant smiles and general encouragement, a caution against the very Jane he had fixed on.”. We get another peak at her thoughts, “Mrs. Bennet treasured up the hint, and trusted that she might soon have two daughters married; and the man whom she could not bear to speak of the day before, was now high in her good graces. She is later highly gratified by Mr. Collins admiring Mrs. Philips's manners and politeness
Of course Lizzy is not kept in the dark as to her mother’s thoughts for very long, “it was not long before her mother gave her to understand that the probability of their marriage was exceedingly agreeable to her.
When Bingley invites them to the Ball Mrs. Bennet, “chose to consider it as given in compliment to her eldest daughter, and was particularly flattered by receiving the invitation from Mr. Bingley himself.”
At the Netherfield ball while Mrs. Bennet is triumphing over Lady Lucas she says, “ it was so pleasant at her time of life to be able to consign her single daughters to the care of their sister, that she might not be obliged to go into company more than she liked” and we are given some additional insight, “It was necessary to make this circumstance a matter of pleasure, because on such occasions it is the etiquette; but no one was less likely than Mrs. Bennet to find comfort in staying at home at any period of her life.”
After the ball ends we learn of that “by a manoeuvre of Mrs. Bennet, had to wait for their carriages a quarter of an hour after everybody else was gone” I assume she does this to give Jane more time with Bingley. When they finally leave we get another look into her thoughts, “Mrs. Bennet was perfectly satisfied, … she should undoubtedly see her daughter settled at Netherfield in the course of three or four months. Of having another daughter married to Mr. Collins, she thought with equal certainty, and with considerable, though not equal, pleasure. Elizabeth was the least dear to her of all her children; and though the man and the match were quite good enough for her, the worth of each was eclipsed by Mr. Bingley and Netherfield.
After Mr. Collins proposes she has another private conversation with him where, “she would have been glad to be equally satisfied that her daughter had meant to encourage him by protesting against his proposals, but she dared not to believe it, and could not help saying so.” Ironically she manages to do what Lizzy couldn’t and makes Mr. Collins think Lizzy might not be such a desirable wife after all. When Mr. Collins speaks of visiting them again, “Mrs. Bennet wished to understand by it that he thought of paying his addresses to one of her younger girls.”
Most of Jane’s thoughts are expressed in conversation with Lizzy but we do get a few peaks here and there that don’t seem to be directly told to Lizzy. After the odd “greating” between Wickham and Darcy, “Jane would have defended either or both, had they appeared to be wrong” After Lizzy tells her Wickham’s story, “Jane listened with astonishment and concern; she knew not how to believe that Mr. Darcy could be so unworthy of Mr. Bingley's regard; and yet, it was not in her nature to question the veracity of a young man of such amiable appearance as Wickham. The possibility of his having really endured such unkindness, was enough to interest all her tender feelings; and nothing therefore remained to be done, but to think well of them both, to defend the conduct of each, and throw into the account of accident or mistake whatever could not be otherwise explained.Her conversation with Lizzy reflects these thoughts but we get a bit more insight here into how genuine Jane’s defense of others is. (Though in this case I think Lizzy already knows how genuine Jane is, so we are getting insight Lizzy doesn’t need because she knows Jane better than we do.)
In contemplating the ball, “Jane pictured to herself a happy evening in the society of her two friends, and the attentions of their brother;
After Miss Bingley’s first letter and her conversation with Elizabeth we are told that, “Jane's temper was not desponding, and she was gradually led to hope, though the diffidence of affection sometimes overcame the hope, that Bingley would return to Netherfield and answer every wish of her heart. as time passes, her anxiety under this suspence was, of course, more painful than Elizabeth's; but whatever she felt she was desirous of concealing which sort of gives us a clue as to what Jane’s feeling but still keeps it vague. We are also told, “It needed all Jane's steady mildness to bear [her mother’s] attacks with tolerable tranquillity.” another hint at Jane’s struggles.
Kitty and Lydia:
After hearing Mr. Collins letter, “To Catherine and Lydia, neither the letter nor its writer were in any degree interesting. It was next to impossible that their cousin should come in a scarlet coat, and it was now some weeks since they had received pleasure from the society of a man in any other colour.
Anticipating the Ball: The happiness anticipated by Catherine and Lydia depended less on any single event, or any particular person; for though they each, like Elizabeth, meant to dance half the evening with Mr. Wickham, he was by no means the only partner who could satisfy them…If there had not been a Netherfield ball to prepare for and talk of, the younger Miss Bennets would have been in a pitiable state at this time; for from the day of the invitation to the day of the ball, there was such a succession of rain as prevented their walking to Meryton once. … and nothing less than a dance on Tuesday could have made such a Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday endurable to Kitty and Lydia.
We also see some conversation Lizzy doesn’t. They both tell Charlotte about Mr. Collin’s failed proposal treating it as a matter of enjoyable gossip, “I am glad you are come, for there is such fun here!...”
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