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|Fascinating post, Julie!
Written by Tori Marie
(1/18/2004 4:59 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, There was no catch on Sundays( long post), penned by JulieW
Your post really got me thinking about Mrs. Bennet and that fish remark. Until a few days ago, I'd always thought that Mrs. Bennet's fish lament was a passing remark to show how anxious she was to set a good table for Mr. Bingley. I also thought it showed that she at least was well-informed enough to have an up-to-the-minute knowledge of locally available foodstuffs. This new information, however, makes me think that it's another of JA's flourishes--a brush stroke to paint Mrs. Bennet in a silly light.
If nobody can get fish on Mondays, be they Bennets, Bingleys or Lucases, why would an intelligent homemaker be anxious about that fact? If Bingley can't have fish at home, certainly he's not going to look down upon Mrs. Bennet for not contriving to get it for him. (Of course, Bingley is not apt to look down on anyone for anything, nor is he even the guest they're expecting, but that is all beside the point!)
One of the things I love about JA is that she doesn't waste ink on character description, but instead allows her characters to reveal themselves to us through their words and actions. Up until now, we've seen Mrs. Bennet in her roles of mother and wife, but we haven't seen much of her as a homemaker. I am now persuaded that this anxiety over fish is intended to show us that Mrs. Bennet is overly eager to please young men of fortune, that she subscribes to the notion that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach and that a well-laid table is another way in which to show off to one's neighbors.
That's an awful lot to read into a simple absence of fish, but there it is. ;-) Thanks again, Julie, for one of the most enlightening posts I've seen in a long time. :-)
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