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|An enjoyable experience (long)
Written by Ramya
(5/12/2013 10:10 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Group Read Wrap-Up Day -- what did you learn?, penned by kathleen (elder)
I had wanted to focus on how much initiative people took in romance and marriage, but could only get so far as discussing Bingley (great discussion!) and Jane in that context.
I would like to make a brief summary of the principals involved in romance/marriage here:
Charlotte: Charlotte tops the list of people who took initiative in securing their marriage prospects, and in a speedy manner. Even before Elizabeth's rejection of Mr. Collins, one can see her lurking about and engaging him in conversation so that she can attract his attention. In this, she is never disloyal to her friend, because she knows Lizzy would never accept Mr. Collins, but self-interest does play a huge part in her "pursuit" of a man she does not respect, or even like. However, she is content enough in her married life and has achieved what she had hoped for.
Mr. Collins: He travels a long distance to find a wife. ;-) And no one can blame him for lacking initiative. However, his "pursuit" of a wife is as silly as it is changeable. He changes from Jane to Elizabeth in a minute, and from Elizabeth to Charlotte in a day. However, he is lucky in his eventual choice.
Bingley and Jane: We have discussed this in length. So, I will only summarize by saying that Bingley develops initiative and self-confidence towards the end. Jane's visit to London after Bingley's departure I call taking a little bit of initiative (though some disagreed). Their affections are stronger for having survived the test, and clearly make a very compatible couple.
Wickham and Lydia: One can say they take a kind of initiative, I suppose, but it is the wrong kind of initiative, and one that dooms them both to an indifferent marriage.
Elizabeth: Funnily enough, Elizabeth is most proactive and active in rejecting proposals. After given the warning by her aunt, she modifies her behavior to Wickham, and detects his attentions to Mary King, and thus protects her heart from falling in love. She wisely does not attempt to dissuade Mr. Collins in his "courtship"; her rejection of Mr. Collins is inevitable. She responds to Col. Fitzilliam's attentions in a lively, though not coarse, manner as to attract the attention of his relations. Even Charlotte would have nothing to blame in her behavior in comparison with what she said about Jane. ;-)
Darcy: I believe Darcy takes the second prize for taking the most initiative. His first proposal does not merit much commendation. In fact, before he proposes, he spends more time in trying to discourage her hopes rather than in trying to please her. But her spirited rejection puts him in the way of self-realization and change. His accidental meeting with Lizzy and her relations at Pemberley helps him to truly start courting Lizzy, and later, he is able to help her in a significant way by rescuing Lydia. He not only comes back to Netherfield to try and win Elizabeth, but also sets things right as far as Bingley and Jane go. That takes a lot of courage, IMO. His actions in the latter half of the story are selfless, and there can be no doubt that Darcy and Lizzy are entering into an excellent partnership upon marriage.
So, even in a strict Regency society, especially with the constraints placed on women, we see varied courtship behaviors and people taking initiatives in different ways. :-)
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