At the beginning of the 18th century arranged marriages were the norm, but by the end of it they fell out of favour with nearly everyone, the upper class excepted. Family’s interest stood in opposition to Christian morality. Marriage should be for love, because it’s instituted by God, and not by any civil contract. Anglican marriage is a lesser sacrament, and its only condition is the mutual vow of love. One can lie and sign any papers, but one cannot possibly cheat God or hope that God would bless what is an abuse of the sacrament He instituted.
In fact the romantic notion of love and marriage revived because people became more concerned with religion than they were in the 17th century. Yet, it doesn’t mean that they ceased to care about the prudential aspect of it. Parents took care that their daughters met only those gentlemen they could marry without degradation. In other words they were free to fall in love with the men they knew, but the group of the men they were allowed to meet was limited in advance.
Austen chose Easter for the most significant turn in Pride and Prejudice.
Darcy comes to Rosings around Palm Sunday (likely Monday, since Darcy, unlike Mr. Elliot, wouldn’t travel on Sunday), that commemorates the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem in the days before his Passion.
When talking of love it is important to define the word. Is it emotion, feeling, decision or all of the elements? According to some Christians i.e. Anglicans and Catholics four kinds of love must be present for the Holy Matrimony to be valid and complete. I’ll try to explain, on their example, Elizabeth’s growing love for Darcy in Pride and Prejudice.
Melissa Renee’s thoughtful series about Mr. Bennet and the Entailment touches upon an important issue of Mr. Bennet’s pushing his responsibility for his family onto the next generation, instead of actually taking the effort of securing the future of his wife and daughters.
Moreover, in her second post in the series she points out that if he saved only Ł100 a year, that is one twentieth of his yearly income, he’d arrive at extra Ł2,300 for his daughters by the beginning of Pride and Prejudice.
That got me thinking, and actually it’d be even more. If he saved Ł100 a year but didn’t use the interest, after the first year it’d be just extra Ł4, but if he left it in the bank the interest would grow and bring additional percentage from interest.
I uploaded Daniel Defoe’s short essay on The Education of Women. The more of his works I read the more I wonder whether Austen in particular was influenced by Defoe, or just everyone was, and so the ideas present in his writings were generally embraced by the time Austen was born.
In this Defoe argues in defence of female education, bringing arguments, including a great deal of reading, that make one think of Elizabeth Bennet.
Twice in the book we are told about Darcy’s wishes for Bingley’s marriage to Georgiana. Once by Caroline, the second time by the omniscient narrator.
This is the one thing about Darcy people have the most trouble to believe in, even though Austen said so. One can think it in the first part of the book, but in the second, when one already knows what a great man Darcy is, an arranged marriage of his sister seems out of character.
…I told them my very best tale of the princess who was waited upon by dwarfs. I improve myself by this exercise, and am quite surprised at the impression my stories create. If I sometimes invent an incident which I forget upon the next narration, they remind one directly that the story was different before; so that I now endeavour to relate with exactness the same anecdote in the same monotonous tone, which never changes. I find by this, how much an author injures his works by altering them, even though they be improved in a poetical point of view. The first impression is readily received. We are so constituted that we believe the most incredible things; and, once they are engraved upon the memory, woe to him who would endeavour to efface them.
Your retrospections must be so totally void of reproach, that the contentment arising from them is not of philosophy, but, what is much better, of ignorance.
Mr. Darcy says to Elizabeth in the new Penguin Classics edition of Pride and Prejudice, that, for the first time since the first edition Austen laid her eyes upon, brings to the reader her orginal words.
Austen sold her rights to the first edition of Pride and Prejudice in 1812, and never again had any influence on the printed text. Throughout subsequent years various publishers edited, abridged, and even reorganised its structure according to the 19th century fashions.
It was Chapman who first looked for an old copy and brought us our beloved Austen’s novel in the form we know it today.
Yet, Chapman used Cassandra’s private copy, and while revising the novel applied her private notes. Penguin went further than that, and in their newest edition brings us Pride and Prejudice in the only form Austen has approved. Hence Mr. Darcy mentiones Lizzy’s ignorance rather than innocence, swiftly alluding to the underlying theme of the novel.
There are also slight differences in punctuation and spelling, giving reader the feel of an 18th century novel. The whole is edited with an introduction, chronology and notes by Vivien Jones, and enriched with the original Penguin Classics Introduction by Tony Tanner.
Slavoj Zizek in The Sublime Object of Ideology included this subchapter about Jane Austen:
Hegel with Austen
Austen, not Austin: it is Jane Austen who is perhaps the only counterpart to Hegel in literature: Pride and Prejudice is the literary Phenomenology of Spirit; Mansfield Park the Science of Logic and Emma the Encyclopaedia… No wonder, then, that we find in Pride and Prejudice the perfect case of this dialectic of truth arising from misrecognition. Although they belong to different social classes – he is from an extremely rich aristocratic family, she from the impoverished middle classes – Elizabeth and Darcy feel a strong mutual attraction. Because of his pride, his love appears to Darcy as something unworthy; when he asks for Elizabeth’s hand he confesses openly his contempt for the world to which she belongs and expects her to accept his proposition as an unheard-of honour. But because of her prejudice, Elizabeth sees him as ostentatious, arrogant, and vain: his condescending proposal humiliates her, and she refuses him.
Darcy is about to give his letter to Lizzy.
This double failure, this mutual misrecognition, possesses a structure of a double movement of communication where each subject receives from the other its own message in the inverse form: Elizabeth wants to present herself to Darcy as a young cultivated woman, full of wit, and she gets from him the message ‘you are nothing but a poor empty-minded creature, full of false finesse’; Darcy wants to present himself to her as a proud gentleman, and he gets from her the message ‘your pride is nothing but contemptible arrogance’. After the break in their relationship each discovers, through a series of accidents, the true nature of the other – she the sensitive and tender nature of Darcy, he her real dignity and wit – and the novel ends as it should, with their marriage. Continue reading →
I’ve been wondering whether Anne and Georgiana might have more in common than it seems. We see both of them mostly through Lizzy’s eyes and all of our other sources are as biased. Lizzy finds Anne rude, and Georgiana shy. Is it possible that if she could look at Anne without prejudice, or with a favourable bias like in Georgiana’s case, she’d find her shy as well?
Anne de Bourgh - P&P 2005
Both Lady Catherine and Darcy are rather overbearing parental figures. While I think that Darcy is much more normal than Lady Catherine there might have been difficult moments when Georgiana would have to face his anger i.e. in the case of her attempted elopement.
Lizzy thinks of Anne “her features, though not plain, were insignificant” while of Georgiana “less handsome than her brother”, which might mean they’re both similarly pretty.
The obvious differences are that Anne is small and thin, while Georgiana is tall and her figure well built. Georgiana is accomplished, while Anne is not, and we might assume that Georgiana isn’t sick. But they both speak very little, and each of them needs their companion’s guidance. I have a feeling that it’s not so much that Anne is so dumb and Georgiana so sensible, as that Darcy hired a better lady companion than Lady Catherine did. Continue reading →
I thought that I might write down the things I know about balls and the ballroom etiquette, since they might be helpful in understanding Austen’s books.
There were three kinds of dancing opportunities:
1.) A public assembly,
2.) A private ball,
3.) An impromptu dance at someone’s house.
London society at Almack's
General rules about dancing:
Every set of dances consisted of two dances and took up from half an hour to an hour or even longer. A man could ask a woman twice, which means that they would dance two sets and spend an hour or even two together during one evening. Asking a woman twice always meant a special attention, however, the meaning of the attention would depend on the kind of the ball. If there were many ladies of a man’s acquaintance he could ask one lady twice only if she was his fiancée, or he meant to propose to her soon. If he knew only a few ladies it would mean that he preferred the one above the others, and if he knew only one or two ladies present it’d mean nothing. Continue reading →
This post was written in answer to a question about the nature of Darcy’s pride. Someone asked how it was possible that Darcy received such a good opinion from his housekeeper, and yet still needed to give excuses for his pride after his second proposal.
The Hunsford Proposal
It’s significant to remember that there are two kinds of pride. One is positive – it’s good and natural to be proud of one’s just deeds, or of our loved ones. The other is the worst of the seven deadly sins out of which all of the others arise. It’s this kind of pride that is paralyzing and leads us to cruelty. People who are too proud to act according to their conscience and do what is right, because it would be seen as their weakness, are guilty of this kind of pride. The remedy to it is humbleness, and Darcy later says that he was properly humbled by Lizzy. Of course Darcy always knew the difference between the two kinds of pride, but he thought he was proud only in the positive way. Lizzy proved him wrong. Continue reading →