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|Sister relationships (Long)
Written by Robbin
(6/7/2007 12:04 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Sisters, sisters, penned by Graciela
I agree sister relationships often play a significant role in JA and P&P is no exception. (;D) I also agree that while Jane and Lizzy are particularly supportive and caring of each other the other three Bennet sisters fall far short of their example. However, I disagree that Kitty and Lydia have no sisterly affection.
She did at last extort from her father an acknowledgment that the horses were engaged: Jane was therefore obliged to go on horseback, and her mother attended her to the door with many cheerful prognostics of a bad day. Her hopes were answered: Jane had not been gone long before it rained hard. Her sisters were uneasy for her, but her mother was delighted. The rain continued the whole evening without intermission: Jane certainly could not come back. (Chapter 7)
Despite their differences in sense and sensibility, both Jane & Lizzy and Kitty & Lydia seem to have affection for each other as well as some for all their sisters. For example, all her sisters are uneasy for Jane in Chapter 7 when it starts to rain hard while she is riding to Netherfield. Lydia and Kitty are practically glued at the hip until Lydia goes to Brighton and while I agree Kitty lets her jealousy get the best of her I think it is a rather typical frustrated reaction to her disappointment in Chapter 41. Kitty’s reaction to Lydia’s invitation from Mrs. Forster is immature but not proof of a lack of affection for Lydia IMO. They correspond by letter in Chapter 42 which includes secrets which would have been better shared with the family. I do not think they can be this close without some affection for each other. (;D) Lydia tells Mary in Chapter 39 that she wished she had attended them to fetch Jane, Lizzy and Maria because they had fun. Lizzy and Jane both worry for Lydia when news of the elopement breaks. Mary moralizes fruitlessly but she “was glad to purchase praise and gratitude by Scotch and Irish airs” at her younger sister’s request at Lucas Lodge in Chapter 6. Not significant proof of affection on Mary’s part I admit but a far cry from the peevish response P&P2 gives Marry in the same scene. No one could think Jane did not love and value all her sisters regardless of their particular flaws. (;D)
Your post on the Bennet sisters also spurred me to think on other sisters in the novel. There are two other pairs of sisters in P&P, Caroline & Louisa (Bingley) and Charlotte & Maria (Lucas.) I thought it would be interesting to look at them and their sisterly relationship and also what might be gleamed from the differing views of marriage of the four sets of sisters.
By Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley they were noticed only by a curtsey; and, on their being seated, a pause, awkward as such pauses must always be, succeeded for a few moments. It was first broken by Mrs. Annesley, a genteel, agreeable-looking woman, whose endeavour to introduce some kind of discourse proved her to be more truly well bred than either of the others; and between her and Mrs. Gardiner, with occasional help from Elizabeth, the conversation was carried on. Miss Darcy looked as if she wished for courage enough to join in it; and sometimes did venture a short sentence when there was least danger of its being heard. (Chapter 45)
Caroline and Louisa seem to support each other in ideas and sentiment although I cannot think of anything in the novel so far which shows they are affectionate towards each other. In Chapter 4, Louisa and Caroline unite in admiring Jane despite Darcy’s accusation that Jane smiles too much. In Chapter 8 they unite to attack Lizzy’s appearance and self-sufficiency after her three mile walk to Netherfield to visit a sick Jane. In Chapter 10 they successfully shut Lizzy out of the group on a walk—they are of course both also oblivious that this delights Lizzy no end. In Chapter 45 they meet with Lizzy again at Pemberley and despite their hopes for a Bingley-Georgiana match or even a Caroline-Darcy match they are united in discomforting Lizzy although they only manage to add difficulty to Georgiana’s shy attempt at hostess. Caroline and Louisa are handsome and elegant on the outside but possess their own brand of vulgar rudeness. They are superficial as their duping of Jane illustrates and often mean spirited as Caroline’s bringing up the idea of Wickham during Lizzy and Aunt Gardiner’s visit to Pemberley illustrates. They are not much of an example for shy Georgiana in Chapter 45.
For all the faults of the Bennet sisters, small and great, they are never superficial in the candor of their affections or generally mean spirited in their behavior unless you consider Lizzy’s verbal challenges to Darcy or Kitty’s peevishness, vexation and envy (Chapter 41) over Lydia’s invitation to Brighton as mean spirited—I do not. (;D)
Charlotte and Maria Lucas seem to have affection for one another because Maria visits and Charlotte seems to enjoy it. I do not see much support between them but Maria plays a very small part in P&P and as a pair I think they have no significance to the plot unless Maria holds the same views in marriage as her older sister and I am not sure that she does. Charlotte on her own is an unromantic opposite of Lizzy and Jane in the marriage market but perhaps a more truly opposite pair is Kitty and Lydia. Louisa and Caroline also have a different view of marriage than our heroin and her favorite sister. The views of marriage of the four sets of ladies go from one extreme to another:
Lydia and Kitty have a frivolous silly sensation orientated view of marriage—they chase after handsome men in dashing red coats without a thought to the prudence of the match on any level. In Chapter 7, “Mr. Bingley's large fortune, the mention of which gave animation to their mother, was worthless in their eyes when opposed to the regimentals of an ensign.” They are silly and immature but at their young age living in the moment and not looking to the future is a common fault.
Louisa and Caroline’s priority is social climbing by marriage. Louisa married a man of fashion (a place in society) rather than fortune because she already is independent. I do not recall that she shows any affection for him and does not mind if Caroline wakes him up by playing the pianoforte in Chapter 11. Caroline also has a fortune so financial prudence is of no concern to her but her fish is more than solvent. Caroline pursues Darcy at Netherfield, her frequent compliments of Pemberley show she is enamored of becoming mistress of the place but I am not so sure she is enamored of the man. She flatters Darcy a great deal but gets little favorable result from the effort. She does not know him very well and she may care for him as a person but I am not completely convinced because jealously does not require affection to exist. Both sisters’ machinations in an effort to facilitate a match between Bingley and Georgiana illustrate their priority of social climbing above affection—they know Bingley prefers Jane.
Lizzy and Jane look for a match with financial prudence but one where they can respect and esteem their partner—they have a horrible example of a marriage without esteem and respect in their parents. Charlotte considers the prudence of the match as the top priority while personal respect and esteem for her partner is deemed unnecessary to happiness. Lizzy and Charlotte’s opposing views of marriage are given in Chapter 6—their differences has often been discussed during the group read so I will not give long explanations but certainly welcome any particular points of discussion.
IMO Lizzy’s (and Jane’s) idea of what to look for in a husband is best; it is a no brainer but once again I must comment that all the ladies and their particular ideas are very true to life. ;D
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