I think it's baffling
Posted by Helen on November 25, 1997 at 10:23:26:
In response to Really..., written by Cassia on November 23, 1997 at 16:05:03
] ] ] It seems extrange that Darcy would ask Elizabeth for a dance at a moment when nobody is dancing and would put him "in evidence" and moreover subject him to some extra "teasing" from Caroline Bingley.
] ] ] I though that it was, perhaps, a theoretic questions, meaning something like: " this song is very lively, you are so fond of music, doesn't it make you want to dance, etc." without it being an actual invitation.
] ] ] What do you think?
] I think he wants to dance with her. Dancing, which could take place almost anytime and place (think of Persuasion, many a spontaneous dance there) was a way for a man to push a relationship with a woman forward. By asking her to Dance Darcy is, in part, making up for his earlier bad behaviour and saying, "I have noticed you and like what I see." Darcy is already quite susceptable to Elizabeth by this time, although she doesn't want to know it.
I, like Elizabeth, have always found this question to be very surprising: it seems to me that it illustrates Darcy's ambivalent attitude to her and his reluctant interest in her . I think on one level, he does make the connection others have made in this thread - she's vivacious and it's a lively dance and therefore she should take part in it. However, it also suggests that he would like to dance with her - which she is rightly baffled by, after his comments at the first dance. But there is also an element of him wanting her to give the wrong answer, and condemn herself, so that he can dismiss her: as has been noted, it was a slightly inappropriate moment to dance - Caroline Bingley wouldn't have done it - and if Elizabeth had said "Oh, yes, I would love to dance right now" maybe he could have thought "ah, she's not very sophisticated, after all" and put her out of his mind.
So on the one hand, his question is positive - a response to her "liveliness of mind" to coin a phrase ;-) - but on the other, it shows him hoping to catch her out. In the circumstances, I admire her response - it shows her not so easily pinned-down as Darcy would like.
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