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|Not a PERFECT gentleman, Line, I agree, but
Written by Cathy Allen
(5/25/2007 12:24 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Honesty and kindness, penned by Line
I still think that Mr. Darcy has been making the attempt to be a gentleman. I agree with you to the point where I think I could modify my statement to exclude the word "true" from my own phrase "true Regency gentleman."
I have never heard the saying "A gentleman is one who never UNwittingly gives offense," and, I don't agree with it, either. I feel that a gentleman, or a lady, does ATTEMPT to never give offense, but it would be impossible to NEVER unwittingly give offense, in my opinion. My 90-year-old father is a gentleman, in the 20th-century-American-sense of the word; he and my mother, raised me to be a "lady" in that same sense (giving away my age here -- HA!) but there have been times in my life when he has UNwittingly given offense, to me, and to others, just as I have also done, UNwittingly. But he attempts at all times to behave as a gentleman, as I attempt to behave as a lady. Mr. Darcy has CERTAINLY wittingly, or UNwittingly, given offense to Elizabeth, I completely agree on that! Since I don't agree with the statement, I think these things do not exclude Mr. Darcy from being a gentleman.
I also agree that one can be KIND and honest, and that people use "honesty" as an excuse. THAT seems to be more and more prevalent in the 21st century; "honesty" is sometimes valued above everything, even if it's unkind honesty. My mother taught me "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all," so I, personally, value kindness almost as highly as honesty. I agree that Mr. Darcy shows no sensitivity AT ALL to Elizabeth. In fact, I think he's downright unkind in the manner of his proposal! But I think Mr. Darcy values honesty more than kindness, at this point in his life.
I remember my first exposure to P&P: it was when I watched P&P1 on television, about 1980 or so. I remember liking Mr. Darcy, not being completely "taken" with him, but liking him. I liked Wickham, too, up to this point in the story; his manners were so kind! When Mr. Darcy proposed at Hunsford, I gasped, and said out loud, "Oh, no!" I couldn't believe it; and he kept on burying himself deeper and deeper as he continued his proposal!
This is the only second time, for this Group Read, that I'm reading P&P, although I've watched all the adaptations many, many times since my first viewing P&P1. I'm noticing SO MUCH as I read that is missing from the adaptations (Duh!). Mr. Darcy had so much going for him before this disastrous proposal; did no one teach him kindness? They obviously taught him honesty! When he ended the conversation, after Elizabeth's calling his "ungentlemanlike" behavior to his attention, he calmed down, somewhat, and said a very kind thing to Elizabeth. Would that he had had that attitude all through the proposal! So I agree with you, Line, he was honest, certainly not kind, but I still feel he behaved as a gentleman.
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