So everything we knew (or thought we knew) … yeah, not so much. Darcy rides in with his disastrous proposal and pretty-dang-impressive letter to clear up a few faulty assumptions — making life SUPER uncomfortable for Lizzie, and SUPER interesting for us.
We’re talking Pride and Prejudice again today — volume 2, chapters 10 -19. If you’re new to WLAG, be sure to check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of our Pride and Prejudice series to catch up. You don’t want to miss a minute of the witty Bennett-sister dramedy — trust me.
Note: This post may contain spoilers. If you don’t want to know, now is the time to stop.
Darcy continues his pursuit of an oblivious Lizzy. Colonel Fitz unwittingly confirms Lizzy’s suspicion that Darcy broke up Jane and Bingley. Lizzy misses dinner at Rosings — Darcy checks on her, declares his love, and proposes (albeit saying it’s against his better judgement). Lizzy declines due to his offenses regarding Jane/Bingley and Wickham.
Darcy explains in a letter that he discouraged Bingley’s interest in Jane only because he believed Jane indifferent and her family (except Lizzy) to be improper. And Darcy only cut Wickham off after Wickham blew through his alotted inheritance. Wickham also tried to elope with Darcy’s impressionable young sister, Georgiana, for her fortune. Darcy’s explanations appear truthful — and Lizzy is ashamed of how she treated him.
Home at Longbourn, Lizzy decides not to tell Jane about Bingley — if Bingley is not able to tell Jane himself, it doesn’t matter. But Lizzy does reveal Darcy’s proposal and the Wickham portion of his letter — even admitting she was wrong about him. Lizzy and Jane decide not to expose Wickham to others, largely because his regiment will soon leave for Brighton.
Lydia is invited to visit Brighton with a friend. Mr. Bennet OKs this visit despite Lizzy’s concern that Lydia will make an even greater fool of herself (and the family) without supervision. Inheritance Girl has left town, so Wickham renews his interest in Lizzy. She rebuffs him and hints at knowing the truth about his relationship with Darcy.
Soon after the officers (and Lydia) leave, Lizzy travels with Aunt and Uncle Gardiner. On their tour of Derbyshire, they stop near Pemberley– and the Gardiners wish to see it. Lizzy is reluctant at first — still embarrassed and not wishing to run into Darcy there. But upon being told by a chambermaid that Darcy isn’t home, Lizzy gives in to her own curiosity.
- “In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” — Darcy (Ch. 11)
- “I might as well enquire, … why with so evident a design of offending and insulting me, you chose to tell me that you liked me against you will, against your reason, and even against your character? Was not this some excuse for incivility, if I was uncivil?” — Lizzy (Ch. 11)
- “– How humiliating is this discovery! — Yet how just a humiliation! — Had I been in love, I could not have been more wretchedly blind. But vanity, not love, has been my folly. … Till this moment, I never knew myself. ” — Lizzy (Ch. 13)
- “Oh! your father of course my spare you, if your mother can. — Daughters are never of so much consequence to a father.” — Lady Catherine (Ch. 14)
- “And we mean to treat you all, … but you must lend us the money, for we have just spent ours at the shop out there.” — Lydia (Ch. 16)
- “Far be it from me, my dear sister, to depreciate such pleasures [of traveling adventures]. They would doubtless be congenial with the generality of female minds. But I confess they would have no charms for me. I should infinitely prefer a book.” — Mary (Ch. 16)
- “There certainly was some great mismanagement in the education of those two young men. One [Darcy] has got all the goodness, and the other [Wickham] all the appearance of it.” — Lizzy (Ch. 17)
How To Pick a Mate
There have been subtle clues and hints to this effect throughout the book, but we finally get confirmation on exactly why Lizzy is so … shall we say “picky”? … about the men she’ll consider marrying: She’s the product of a hasty marriage — a marriage that has lost all respect and affection, held together only by the cheap glue that is amusement at the other’s expense and absurd attention-seeking behavior.
This observation, in my opinion, is one of the key reasons Lizzy differs from her sisters. She’s taken notice of her parents discord (as I suspect Mary, Kitty, and Lydia have not — too occupied with their own interests of reading or bouncing from officer to officer). She recognizes how easily this could be her future too, should she also make a hasty choice (as I suspect Jane does not — consistently optimistic and believing the best of everyone).
And not only has Lizzy made the observation — but she has taken it to heart. She’s learned from her parents’ mistakes. And she takes great pains to select the right person for forever — not simply the most expedient or lucrative or engaging one of the moment. She won’t settle for a Collins who would drive her bonkers with his constant need to please. She won’t accept a cruel, arrogant Darcy (as she believes him to be at his proposal). And she certainly will not consider an untrustworthy Wickham.
Perhaps most importantly, she holds enough respect for herself that she’ll wait for the guy. Even if it means being ragged on by her mom and sisters. Even if it means poverty when her father dies. Even if it means being single forever. I think all us girls would all do well to follow this example — not to jump into a relationship (or stay in a relationship) for the sake of being in a relationship. Life is too short to spend it with the wrong person.
And who knows — maybe turning Mr. Wrong down now will be the kick in the pants he needs to work on becoming Mr. Right.
Ten Random Thoughts While Reading
- Lizzy, for realz? He’s asking “odd unconnected questions”? Lemme connect those dots for ya: He LOVES you.
- I like to imagine that Colonel Fitz’s comments about money being important in marriage are the result of Darcy’s meddling. Darcy sees he’s got some competition from his cousin, and offers some friendly advice — that as a younger son he ought to give special consideration to money when selecting a mate. BOOM — Lizzy is (theoretically) all his.
- Wow, Darcy. Could have had some tea and chatted for a spell before dropping the love bomb on her. Not a good start.
- And it goes downhill from there. Yeesh — even Collins knew to be positive and affectionate in a proposal.
- C’mon, man … You apologize. You apologize again. You may even offer her chocolate before apologizing a third time. But you do NOT, under any circumstances, argue with her over the validity of her reasons for rejecting you. You don’t have to get it, you just have to accept it.
- The letter was pretty dang good. Maybe Darcy is like me — better at writing his thoughts than verbalizing them.
- Lizzy is growing so much in this section — admitting she was wrong, chilling out on the Charlotte/Collins thing, growing to respect Mr. Darcy … She’s maturing before our eyes!
- Aw, poor Mr. Bennet — he was left alone with the crazy family members a LONG time. No wonder he says over and over how glad he is Lizzy is home.
- Ugh, Lydia. I always hate her whenever I read the book. I need to watch The Lizzy Bennet Diaries again to remember she’s only human.
(P.S. You’re welcome. 🙂 )
- If this were a horror novel, I’d be all “No! Never trust the chambermaid. They lie for sport!” But because it’s a romance, I’m all “Yes! Always trust the chambermaid. They lie for sport!”