Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda (Part 5)

I can practically hear Lizzy Bennet — in her sweet little British accent: “I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender mistress of Pemberley. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum. Which is what I am, lets face it.”

This is the penultimate post in our Pride and Prejudice series today — today we’re talking volume 3, chapters 1-9. If you’re new to WLAG, be sure to check out Part 1Part 2Part 3, and Part 4 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.

Overview

Image via Amazon.com. Use on this blog is believed to fall under Fair Use.

Lizzy and Aunt and Uncle Gardiner visit Pemberley — and Lizzy is in awe of the estate she could have “mistressed.” Great reports from the servants of Darcy as a master, a brother, and a human being in general continue to soften Lizzy’s regard.

Darcy shows — and Lizzy feels terrible that he should have to see her after her rejection. However, his now-gracious manners and interest in having Lizzy meeting his sister, Georgiana, give Lizzy hope that he may still love her. She wouldn’t turn him down if he renewed his proposal.

Darcy’s affection is noticed by others — including Caroline (who tries and fails to make Lizzy look bad in front of Darcy). Lizzy also meets Georgiana (shy but sweet) — and has a pleasant conversation with Bingley (hope for Jane!).

Lydia runs off with Wickham. They haven’t married — and if they don’t, the entire family will be ruined. Before returning home to help her father find Lydia, Lizzy tells Darcy. He’s very kind, but Lizzy fears any hope of marrying Darcy is out the window.

At Longbourn, Mr. Bennet feels responsible — acknowledging that Lizzy was right about Lydia ruining the family. Uncle Gardiner finds Lydia — and Wickham agrees to marry her for a surprisingly low amount (especially given his newly-discovered — and extensive — debts). Everyone believes Uncle Gardiner must have taken great expense upon himself (though how is uncertain — he has a family of his own to care for).

When Lydia and Wickham do visit, it’s clear they either don’t understand how angry everyone is that they almost wrecked the family — or they just plain don’t care. During one of Lydia’s major gushing sessions about the wedding, she lets slip that Darcy was there. It was a secret, so Lydia won’t say anything more. But Lizzy is curious and writes Aunt Gardiner to find out why Darcy was at the wedding.

Quotables

  • “It was consoling that he should know she had some relations for whom there was no need to blush.” — Narrator (Ch. 1)
  • “Why is he so altered? From what can it proceed? It cannot be for me,  it cannot be for my sake that his manners are thus softened. My reproofs at Hunsford could not work such a change as this. It is impossible that he should still love me.” — Lizzy (Ch. 1)
  • “He then went away, and Miss Bingley was left to all the satisfaction of having forced him to say what gave no one any pain but herself. ” — Narrator (Ch. 3)
  • “Do not give way to useless alarm … though it is right to be prepared for the worst, there is no occasion to look on it as certain.” — Mr. Gardiner (Ch. 5)
  • “Unhappy as the event must be for Lydia, we may draw from it this useful lesson; that loss of virtue in a female is irretrievable — that one false step invokes her in endless ruin — that her reputation is no less brittle than it is beautiful, — and that she cannot be too much guarded in her behavior towards the undeserving of the other sex.” — Mary (Ch. 5)
  • “… under such a misfortune as this, one cannot see too little of one’s neighbours. Assistance is impossible; condolence, insufferable. Let them triumph over us at a distance, and be satisfied.” — Lizzy (Ch. 5)
  • “No, … Wickham’s a fool, if he takes her with a farthing less than ten thousand pounds. I should be sorry to think so ill of him, in the very beginning of our relationship.” — Mr. Bennet (Ch. 7)
  • “I thank you [Lydia] for my share of the favor, … but I do not particularly like your way of getting husbands.” — Lizzy (Ch. 9)

Blessed Are Those Who Open Their Eyes, For They Shall See Things

My dad often shares his personal contribution to the Beatitudes when someone has misplaced something in plain sight. I believe this truism also applies when someone, as Darcy would say, “wilfully misunderstands” others (Volume 1, Chapter 11) — ultimately missing the (often obvious) truth until it’s too late.

In my estimation, Lizzy and Mr. Bennet (ironically, the two characters portrayed as most sensible and rational) are the most guilty of keeping their eyes shut tight.

Mr. Bennet chose to ignore Lydia’s wild, uncontrollable temperament because he didn’t want to listen to her whining.  And against common sense and the advice of his favorite daughter, Lizzy, to boot! The result is heartbreaking regret. I can’t imagine his pain — knowing his family might be ruined all because he chose not to see the writing on the wall. A heavy burden on anyone’s shoulders.

This misfortune seems to run in the Bennet family — as Lizzy of course has been guilty of it throughout the book,  particularly regarding Darcy. She lets her hurt feelings over one crappy comment by Darcy obscure her ability to see his kindness and affection for her. Not only does it prevent her from realizing he cares for her until his proposal, but it causes her to judge him as “guilty” of several evils without a fair hearing.

The result? A hearty does of humble pie — Lizzy’s  regret is clear in every moment at her would-be-husband’s estate — from the rambling woods to the lovely artwork … to running into Darcy himself. If only she had opened her eyes to see the amazingness that is Darcy sooner, she may even have been spared the heartbreaking pain of realizing she might love him at the exact moment “when all love must be in vain” (Chapter 4).

And while (spoiler alert!) everything works out in the end for both Mr. Bennet and Lizzy, in the “real world” it could easily have gone the other way. So I say this with nary an iota of overdramatics: For the sake of your family — and the love of your life — listen to Coach Taylor.

Ten Random Thoughts While Reading

  1. That was fast, Lizzy! One look at the man’s house, and you’re fantasizing about being the mistress. If only Darcy knew — he might have invited you over sooner! 😉
  2. Handsome. Good tempered. Kind to the poor. A loving brother. You can practically see Lizzy falling in love.
  3. “Their eyes instantly met …” and Darcy and Lizzy start slo-mo running toward each other. On a beach.  With the Chariots of Fire theme song playing on a loop in the background.
  4. Ah! This whole Lizzy/Darcy reunion gives me major Beauty and the Beast vibes!
  5. Oh, Caroline — that shade of green is not a good look on you. I almost feel bad (almost) — poor girl can’t see that if Darcy really loves Lizzy any effort to sabotage will be futile.
  6. Crises are like alcohol. They don’t change you so much as they lower your inhibitions — allowing you to act more like your true self than you ordinarily would. Mary just gets more moral. Kitty just gets more self-focused. Mrs. Bennet just gets more self-pitying. Collins just gets more rude. Etc.
  7. Not to rub it in or anything, Mr. B, but … Lizzy told you so.
  8. It’s like the knife is just twisiting in my heart — Lizzy finally gets it. Mr. Darcy is the Mary Poppins of men — “practically perfect in every way.” And she can never have him now!
  9. UGGHHH! Lydia and Wickham deserve each other. I feel like, if this story was set today, this would be one of those 72-hour marriages. No way this ends happily for them.
  10. I know, Lizzy. Why would Darcy be at Wickham’s wedding? He hates the man. It makes no sense. It’s not like the happiness of someone he cares about (or even, dare I say, loves) at all depends upon this wedding. Real head-scratcher. (#TeamDarcy)

← Pride and Prejudice (Vol. 2, Ch. 10-19)

Pride and Prejudicers: Any sympathy for our washed up prize fighter single friend? How badly do you think Lizzy wants a do-over? What about Lydia and Wickham — how long do you give their marriage before they’re broke, miserable, and cheating on each other?

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