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|I want to pick up on Marilynn's excellent observation...
Written by Arnie Perlstein
(4/30/2007 7:07 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Definately not the behavior of a gentleman or gentlewoman, penned by Marilynn
and extend it a bit. I want to make the case for the possibility that while Darcy comes across as rude to the Meryton folk at the assembly, his rudeness may be a mask for his own inner discomfort and shyness, and that Bingley's jovial prodding brings those feelings to a head.
Look at the immediate context in which Darcy's loud dissing of "women who've been slighted by other men" is expressed. Darcy has been off to the side not being friendly, but also not bothering anybody. Haven't we all been at parties like that some time in our lives, when we haven't known anyone, and just preferred to lurk? And then his good buddy Bingley comes over, bubbling with excitement over his dances with Jane, which perhaps makes Darcy a bit jealous of those happy feelings. And then Bingley puts Darcy right on the spot, by noodging Darcy to check Lizzy out.
Talk about an embarrassing moment! But I'd argue that JA gives us a big hint that it's even more embarrassing than just that. We can infer that Darcy has in fact already noticed and identified Lizzy before then, from the following passage:
""Which do you mean?" and turning round, he looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till catching her eye, he withdrew his own and coldly said, "She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me..."
How else would Darcy know just which way to turn to see Lizzy? And is it just a coincidence that Darcy happens to be in close proximity to her? I don't think it is. I think he became intrigued with her watching her dance with others, and then, when she sat down, he moved closer to her, and kept looking, surreptitiously.
So, from Darcy's point of view, when Bingley says what he says, it's almost as though Bingley has read Darcy's mind, which Darcy has been so carefully concealing from everyone, and has then blared it out clearly for Lizzy herself to hear!
Is it surprising then, that Darcy has been experiencing mixed feelings, his disdain and discomfort for Meryton's society being undermined by his disconcertingly and surprisingly finding Lizzy attractive? And now Bingley has intruded on Darcy's inner world, and put the spotlight on Darcy's covert surveillance of Lizzy, and put an abrupt end to it, and has put Darcy on the spot to act on feelings which he may be loath to admit even to himself, i.e., that he is attracted to Lizzy.
And then Darcy turns around and his eyes meet Lizzy's! What a moment! Is it so surprising that he then does what many other shy, uncomfortable, awkward, jealous, confused guys would probably do in that situation--he disses her so she can hear it--Like a little boy saying he doesn't really want the thing that he really does want a lot, but if he can't have it anyway, then he may as well trash it!
I bet he replayed that scene over and over in his head afterwards.
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