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|Wickham/Soldiers: admittance into society
Written by BarbaraB
(5/28/2007 5:00 p.m.)
I once read that the men of the gentry were responsible for checking out the backgound/reputation of any strangers who showed up in their community without any recommedation from friends, family, or trusted acquaintances. This was to insure the protection of the group (gentry) especially the women from unsavory characters or persons of ill repute. I believe it was considered, also, another measure to preserve the continuance of their class by avoiding possible corruption or means of weaknening the system/lifestyle they enjoyed. Actually from what we've read in just JA's novels, some family members obviously were skilled enough in their own right in their ability to ruin the system themselves. :) Anyway I guess I was sort of taken aback because the militia which included Wickham, seemed to have free reign of the Meryton neighborhood.
The Phillipses, in particualar, seem to entertain the soldiers on a regualar basis. This never appeared to be a wise decision to me with the way Kitty and Lydia are always around flirting with them. As it is, they persue them unabashedly around town. Bringing them into the home is like aiding and abetting instead of looking out for their welfare and insisting on some sense of decorum. Lizzie and Jane tried to get them to behave like young ladies but were unsuccessful. There has been a shameful lack of responsibility on the part of the adults in their lives in my opinion.
As we know, Darcy would not admit Wickham into society in Derbyshire because he knew of Wickham's character. Meryton was happy to accept him on the basis of his charm and seemingly good will. Maybe it's that some small towns were just somewhat layed-back and didn't stand on ceremony when it came to unknown persons. Or maybe they considered military persons exempt. Unfortunately, whatever the reason, it allowed Wickham to weasel himself into "good" society with no problem.
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