I’ve been having my own little Pride and Prejudice festival; I’ve re-read the novel and watched Lost in Austen, the 1995 BBC version and the 2005 version (I’ll put my thoughts about the movie adaptations in another post).
Once again I am amazed by the brilliance of the writing. This time around a couple of things stuck in my mind. First, Elizabeth’s double-standard in regards to ‘prudential’ marriages. This is her reaction to Charlotte Lucas’s engagement to Mr Collins …
She had always felt that Charlotte’s opinion of matrimony was not exactly like her own, but she could not have supposed it possible that, when called into action, she would have sacrificed every better feeling to worldly advantage. Charlotte the wife of Mr. Collins, was a most humiliating picture! — And to the pang of a friend disgracing herself and sunk in her esteem, was added the distressing conviction that it was impossible for that friend to be tolerably happy in the lot she had chosen.
But when Mr Wickham pays attention to Miss King …
The sudden acquisition of ten thousand pounds was the most remarkable charm of the young lady to whom he was now rendering himself agreeable; but Elizabeth, less clear-sighted perhaps in his case than in Charlotte’s, did not quarrel with him for his wish of independence. Nothing, on the contrary, could be more natural; and while able to suppose that it cost him a few struggles to relinquish her, she was ready to allow it a wise and desirable measure for both, and could very sincerely wish him happy.
Why the difference? Is is because she knows Mr Collins to be a fool (and she knows Charlotte knows this as well) and she knows nothing objectionable about Miss King?
The other thing I noticed was Mary Bennet’s isolation. She is very silly and very vain (although I think she is just trying to get some attention) but she is also very young – she must be between 15 (Lydia’s age and 20 Lizzie’s age). What is the point of Mary’s character? One of the members of my Jane Austen group believes Mary is a portrait of Austen. I haven’t made my mind up about this yet.