Monday, January 28, 2013

Pride and Prejudice Readathon: Chapters Eleven, Twelve, and Thirteen

I actually feel kind of bad for Mr. Hurst in chapter eleven. One must wonder if his vapid personality is reason for or the result of how little regard he is shown. The chapter begins with his desire for cards being denied by Miss Bingley, leaving him with "nothing to do but to stretch himself on one of the sophas and go to sleep." At the end, she considerately asks Mrs. Hurst if she minds him being woken up by the piano, but no thought is paid to the feelings of the sleeper.

Sandwiched between Mr. Hurst's woes is one of my favorite scenes in the book. Mr. Bingley's excessive concern and attention to drafts remind me of Mr. Woodhouse. Meanwhile. Miss Bingley treats us to a display of hypocrisy to rival, or rather surpass, Mrs. Bennet's in chapter five:

Miss Bingley's attention was quite as much engaged in watching Mr. Darcy's progress through his book, as in reading her own; and she was perpetually either making some inquiry, or looking at his page. She could not win him, however, to any conversation; he merely answered her question, and read on. At length, quite exhausted by the attempt to be amused with her own book, which she had only chosen because it was the second volume of his, she gave a great yawn and said, "How pleasant it is to spend an evening in this way! I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! -- When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library."

No one made any reply. She then yawned again, threw aside her book, and cast her eyes round the room in quest of some amusement...
All this is just the prelude to one of Darcy and Elizabeth's best exchanges, rendered all the more delightful by taking place in spite of Miss Bingley's maneuvers. I said a few posts ago that I was delaying talk of Darcy, but now he must be addressed, for this is the scene in which I fall in love with him:
"I am perfectly convinced by it that Mr. Darcy has no defect. He owns it himself without disguise."

"No" -- said Darcy, "I have made no such pretension. I have faults enough, but they are not, I hope, of understanding. My temper I dare not vouch for. -- It is I believe too little yielding -- certainly too little for the convenience of the world. I cannot forget the follies and vices of others so soon as I ought, nor their offences against myself. My feelings are not puffed about with every attempt to move them. My temper would perhaps be called resentful. -- My good opinion once lost is lost for ever."

"That is a failing indeed!" -- cried Elizabeth. "Implacable resentment is a shade in a character. But 
you have chosen your fault well. -- I really cannot laugh at it; you are safe from me."

"There is, I believe, in every disposition a tendency to some particular evil, a natural defect, which not even the best education can overcome."

"And your defect is a propensity to hate every body."

"And yours," he replied with a smile, "is willfully to misunderstand them."
I can see that smile. Just like the one in his portrait. Listen to this proud man expose his inner self so openly, Elizabeth! How can you mistake this for disdain? She does indeed willfully misunderstand him,an accusation he will echo later at Rosings, and even though he is not yet serious in his intentions towards her, my heart bleeds a bit for him here.

Chapter twelve returns Jane and Elizabeth to Longbourn, and chapter thirteen introduces Mr. Collins. By now, the reader is fully aware of the limitations of Mrs. Bennet's character, but this is the first time we begin to see the real failings of Mr. Bennet. Every time I begin this chapter, I have to stop and think how I would respond if my husband, having known of it for a month, was informing me for the first time of the need to host a visitor that very evening, let alone for the next week. I would be livid. Such behavior is grossly inconsiderate, and presages grief to come.

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