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|Not to rehash the whole argument ;)
Written by ifung
(2/8/2004 11:26 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, The operative word, penned by Kathi
] By this time it is my opinion that she's already somewhat smitten and conflicted, but then I am one of those crazy people who thinks Elizabeth is attracted to Darcy from the moment of their meeting.
I would think that this passage supports the opposite interpretation, not just of Lizzy's feelings of the moment but of her feelings about Darcy throughout the book.
Well this is THE classic point of contention about P&P which many people have debated throughout the centuries. I'm sure this has eaten up a lot of storage space on the RoP as well. ;)
I fully agree with you that one can (and most readers do) subscribe to a LITERAL, 'fundamentalist', 'concrete' interpretation of the novel, where there is no subtext. In this reading, the narrator and dialogue provides all of the information that exists, and the characters have no subconscious motivations or private thoughts. In such an interpretation, all of the characters' statements are accepted as literal truth (except for Wickham, who is shown to be a dissembler by events and testimony of other characters). Thus, when Elizabeth professes a dislike of Mr. Darcy, the literal interpretation assumes she cannot have any other feelings. Similarly, when Mr. Darcy says he was a selfish being: ...I have been a selfish being all my life, in practice, though not in principle... , the literal interpretation takes the stance that this is the literal truth. He's a selfish lout who has been reformed at the end of the novel by the virtuous Elizabeth.
There is nothing wrong with the literal interpretation. I think it makes for a fairly straghtforward and cohesive plot. It has the advantage of being completely supported by the text - therefore, if you get into any dispute with a non-literalist you can always say, "There is no support for your view in the text!"
However, a minority of readers find such a literal interpretation less satisfying than a more nuanced reading - one which accepts the possibility that the characters might not be telling us what they actually think and feel, one where there are subconscious or unspoken motivations under the surface that do not necessarily jive with the dialogue. One does not find MUCH literal support for such an interpretation, but JA leaves little clues which are pretty intriguing and open for such interpretation. I don't think the boardmistress would want me to waste more space on this, but I would refer you to the following links, where you can peruse some of the alternatives which have been proposed:
Male Voices website:
Archives of RoP - Nathalie R.'s excellent series of posts - you can search for her name in the archives. Her "$ex and the Single Pemberlian" series is a classic:
Needless to say, I find these interpretations more appealing than the literalist approach. To each his/her own! ;-)
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