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|Reader’s knowledge vs. Lizzy’s Darcy/Mrs. Philps/Mr. Collins
Written by amytat
(4/20/2013 9:20 p.m.)
I know this rather an odd grouping but these are the characters I have left to post about from this week’s chapters.
Darcy and Bingley run into the Bennets in Meryton and we are told he “was beginning to determine not to fix his eyes on Elizabeth” Then he notices Wickham and we are given no more insights into Darcy’s thoughts until after his dance with Lizzy at the Netherfield ball. They part ”on each side dissatisfied, though not to an equal degree, for in Darcy's breast there was a tolerable powerful feeling towards her, which soon procured her pardon, and directed all his anger against another.” It’s almost as if running into Wickham has closed Darcy’s mind to us.
We get a lot of Elizabeth’s observations of Darcy at the ball, “A deeper shade of hauteur overspread his features…seemed desirous of changing the subject… The expression of his face changed gradually from indignant contempt to a composed and steady gravity” ect. but only the one brief peak at his thoughts and we don’t hear any conversations that Elizabeth doesn’t hear.
We get a couple peaks at Mrs. Philips thoughts all related to Mr. Collins.
When she first meets Mr. Collins Mrs. Philips was ”quite awed by such an excess of good breeding” Mr Collins compares her parlor to the small summer breakfast-parlour at Rosings and while not gratified at first “when Mrs. Philips understood from him what Rosings was, and who was its proprietor … she felt all the force of the compliment, and would hardly have resented a comparison with the housekeeper's room.” As Mr. Collins continues to talk about Lady Catherine Mrs Philips “opinion of his consequence increased with what she heard, and [she] was resolving to retail it all among her neighbors as soon as she could.”
So far Mrs. Philips hasn’t had a major part in the story other than providing a place for plot points to happen. It’s interesting that JA gives us this quick peek into her thoughts. Her being so impressed with Mr. Collins shows her to be rather foolish.
We get some background info on Mr. Collins (which is well covered in Srirup’s post “How Mr. Collins became Mr. Collins” so I won’t repeat that). Given the Breach between him and Mr. Bennet I would assume Lizzy doesn’t know this history. We are also told that he comes to Longbourn planning to make amends for inheriting their father’s estate by marrying one of the Bennets and that Miss Bennet's lovely face confirmed his views, and established all his strictest notions of what was due to seniority. But Mrs. Bennet warns him away from Jane and he quickly changes from Jane to Elizabeth while Mrs. Bennet was stirring the fire”. He’s pretty transparent and Elizabeth is quick to catch on.
Mr. Collins proposes the day after the ball and we’re told he has ”no feelings of diffidence to make it distressing to himself even at the moment” After Lizzy turns him down he has a private conversation with Mrs. Bennet. He starts off with “every reason to be satisfied, since the refusal which his cousin had stedfastly given him would naturally flow from her bashful modesty and the genuine delicacy of her character.” but after Mrs. Bennet tries to reassure him he begins to doubt whether Lizzy would altogether be a very desirable wife.
We get more insights to his thoughts as he mediates on what has passed. “He thought too well of himself to comprehend on what motive his cousin could refuse him; and though his pride was hurt, he suffered in no other way. His regard for her was quite imaginary; and the possibility of her deserving her mother's reproach prevented his feeling any regret.” He then has conversation with Mrs. Bennet where he tells her “I am resigned. Perhaps not the less so from feeling a doubt of my positive happiness had my fair cousin honoured me with her hand; for I have often observed that resignation is never so perfect as when the blessing denied begins to lose somewhat of its value in our estimation…” Lizzy doesn’t hear this conversation but Lydia and Charlotte do.
A few days after proposing to Lizzy he’s off to propose to Charlotte and sneaks out of the house ”anxious to avoid the notice of his cousins, from a conviction that if they saw him depart, they could not fail to conjecture his design, and he was not willing to have the attempt known till its success could be known likewise; (This always makes me laugh, as if people would think, Oh Mr Collins is leaving the house he must be off to propose.) The Bennet’s do wonder where he’s been but Charlotte asked him not to say anything, their questions, “required some ingenuity to evade, and he was at the same time exercising great self-denial, for he was longing to publish his prosperous love.”
While Lizzy didn’t know his thoughts or of his proposing to Charlotte until after he left, “The possibility of Mr. Collins's fancying himself in love with her friend had once occurred to Elizabeth within the last day or two… The strangeness of Mr. Collins's making two offers of marriage within three days was nothing in comparison of his being now accepted.”
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