I’m escaping reality to read Pride and Prejudice. I need a substantial feel-good book. It’s what she deserves
(Scroll down for spoilery commentary as I go along)
- First and foremost, the ultimate way to enjoy Pride and Prejudice: Jennifer Ehle reading it to you. Just close your eyes and let her serene voice guide your imagination. You can’t go wrong with her accessible bite-sized readings of two-three chapters per video. These sittings brought me that same nostalgic comfort of being read to by your favorite teacher in third-grade.
- “She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me; I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men.”
oof, that never stops hurting.
- “He is just what a young man ought to be,” said she, “sensible, good-humoured, lively; and I never saw such happy manners!”
I wonder why it is that even with someone as kind as Mr. Bingley around, I still choose to favor Mr. Darcy. . .
- “Mrs. Long told me last night that he sat close to her for half-an-hour without once opening his lips.”
Darcy is me at public gatherings
- “Miss Bingley told me,” said Jane, “that he never speaks much, unless among his intimate acquaintances. With them he is remarkably agreeable.”
Darcy, representing introverts everywhere
- “That is very true,” replied Elizabeth, “and I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.”
This line flows so nicely that I have to utter it along with the narrator
- “Occupied in observing Mr. Bingley’s attentions to her sister, Elizabeth was far from suspecting that she was herself becoming an object of some interest in the eyes of his friend.”
Oh! It’s happening!
- “But no sooner had he made it clear to himself and his friends that she hardly had a good feature in her face, than he began to find it was rendered uncommonly intelligent by the beautiful expression of her dark eyes. To this discovery succeeded some others equally mortifying.”
Crushes develop slowly and then all at once. It’s like the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon of becoming ultra-aware of something/someone. You start seeing them in everything
- “He began to wish to know more of her, and as a step towards conversing with her himself, attended to her conversation with others.”
In the movie, Darcy asking Elizabeth to dance seems to drop out nowhere, but now I see the attention to detail, like him slowly creeping near her to catch her eye
- “Indeed, sir, I have not the least intention of dancing. I entreat you not to suppose that I moved this way in order to beg for a partner.”
Oh, I like this
- “A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony, in a moment.”
Only when it comes to Darcy
- “If I wished to think slightingly of anybody’s children, it should not be of my own, however.”
Mrs. Bennet can be named a lot of things, but she’s a fierce mother, first and foremost.
- “The former was divided between admiration of the brilliancy which exercise had given to her complexion, and doubt as to the occasion’s justifying her coming so far alone.”
Oh, finally! I was in dire need to know what was circling through Darcy’s mind upon Elizabeth’s arrival
“I am afraid, Mr. Darcy,” observed Miss Bingley in a half whisper, “that this adventure has rather affected your admiration of her fine eyes.”
“Not at all,” he replied; “they were brightened by the exercise.” ”
hmm, really. . . .
“He immediately offered to fetch her others—all that his library afforded.
“And I wish my collection were larger for your benefit and my own credit”
Bingley is the only respite in this room of elites
“What a delightful library you have at Pemberley, Mr. Darcy!”
“It ought to be good,” he replied, “it has been the work of many generations.”
“And then you have added so much to it yourself, you are always buying books.”
Ha! Is bingley playing matchmaker for Darcy and Elizabeth?
“Is Miss Darcy much grown since the spring?” said Miss Bingley; “will she be as tall as I am?”
“I think she will. She is now about Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s height, or rather taller.”
I see you, Mr. Darcy, dropping Elizabeth’s name in any conversation to catch her attention
- “All this she must possess,” added Darcy, “and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.”
- “she had no wish of her recovering immediately, as her restoration to health would probably remove her from Netherfield.”
Interesting that this scene with Mrs. Bennet appears so soon after Darcy’s remark: “Whatever bears affinity to cunning is despicable.”
- “I did not know before,” continued Bingley immediately, “that you were a studier of character. It must be an amusing study.”
“Yes, but intricate characters are the most amusing. They have at least that advantage.”
Cue Darcy walking in
“But if it be only a slight, thin sort of inclination, I am convinced that one good sonnet will starve it entirely away.”
Darcy only smiled; and the general pause which ensued made Elizabeth tremble lest her mother should be exposing herself again.”
he. . . smiled!
“But do you always write such charming long letters to her, Mr. Darcy?”
“They are generally long; but whether always charming it is not for me to determine.”
men who actually care for their younger siblings>>>
- “Nothing is more deceitful,” said Darcy, “than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast.”
The page that follows is the most Darcy has ever said
- I was reading some chapters by myself utterly lost in the text. So I ran back to Jennifer Ehle’s narration and suddenly all confusion was cleared up. She’s p&p magic. She makes the text sound like a movie, never like a classic book that you were required to read. She even has a voice for each character so subtly done that you don’t even feel it till you pay notice. (I love her Lady Catherine voice.)
- “Elizabeth could not help observing, as she turned over some music-books that lay on the instrument, how frequently Mr. Darcy’s eyes were fixed on her.”
Oh, we know. Let me refer you to:
- “and Darcy had never been so bewitched by any woman as he was by her. He really believed, that were it not for the inferiority of her connections, he should be in some danger.”
You start the sentence with a smile and then end with one of these:
“As for your Elizabeth’s picture, you must not have it taken, for what painter could do justice to those beautiful eyes?”
“It would not be easy, indeed, to catch their expression, but their colour and shape, and the eyelashes, so remarkably fine, might be copied.”
I feel this most acutely in this scene:
And can we talk a minute about how Miss Bingley is such a Regina George here, thinking that teasing Darcy about Elizabeth will reduce his interest. Mentioning Elizabeth just makes him think about her more. And referring to Elizabeth jokingly as “your lady” will just make him think about her more in that way, Einstein.
Mr. Darcy felt their rudeness, and immediately said:
“This walk is not wide enough for our party. We had better go into the avenue.”
He likes arguing with Elizabeth but also sticks up for her? Get you a man that can do both
- “and she removed at his desire to the other side of the fireplace, that she might be further from the door. He then sat down by her, and talked scarcely to anyone else.”
Jane and Bingley are unparalleled
- “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of anything than of a book! When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”
I can’t believe this brilliant piece was delivered by Miss Bingley, of all people, in an attempt to impress a clueless Darcy. I do feel rather impartial to her in those moments when she’s trying so hard to be in his favor and he pays her no mind. I guess that’s one theme that survives the ages.
- “Miss Bingley succeeded no less in the real object of her civility; Mr. Darcy looked up. He was as much awake to the novelty of attention in that quarter as Elizabeth herself could be, and unconsciously closed his book.”
when closes book makes a comeback… it’s serious
- “if the first, I would be completely in your way, and if the second, I can admire you much better as I sit by the fire.”
I can just imagine his smug smile…
- “My good opinion once lost is lost forever.”
I can hear the echo of Matthew Macfadyen’s voice in P&P 2005
- “He began to feel the danger of paying Elizabeth too much attention.”
- “Mr. Darcy looked a little ashamed of his aunt’s ill-breeding, and made no answer.”
I have to laugh at that line! This mirrors the very image of Lizzy’s reaction at the ball when her mother, sitting right across from Darcy, was boasting of the advantageous marriage pertaining to Jane and Mr. Bingley.
- “she thought he looked a little confused as he answered that he had never been so fortunate as to meet Miss Bennet.”
and yet you appear to have separated them. In truth, I didn’t realize how much we could circle back to that conversation on humility and friendship. Bingley is influenced easily this way or that. It was foreshadowing! Like Darcy said, if someone told him to stay a week he would do so readily without inquiring the reasons for and against! So the same with the Jane situation. Darcy advised against Jane and Bingley didn’t think twice about it and was easily persuaded against her. Darcy simply mentioned that he has an inkling that Jane wasn’t as fully invested as he seems to be in her. Bingley didn’t inquire further, he just cut his losses then and there without offering a pensive thought into it.
here is the original passage: “Allowing the case, however, to stand according to your representation, you must remember, Miss Bennet, that the friend who is supposed to desire his return to the house, and the delay of his plan, has merely desired it, asked it without offering one argument in favour of its propriety.”
I didn’t realize then that Darcy speaking at length for the first time would lead to being such a substantial moment that reverberates along the novel. Of course, it would.
- “She had once or twice suggested to Elizabeth the possibility of his being partial to her, but Elizabeth always laughed at the idea;”
Twice now that Charlotte – who I now have to refer to as Mrs. Collins, what a shock -has been dismissed when her observations are utterly right. First, how jane’s impassiveness might work against her with Mr Bingley. And now, how Darcy is partial to Elizabeth. Charlotte is very aware of her surroundings. She’s no fool.
- The Big Scene™ arrives, finally. All I’ve been waiting for since the start of the book. It’s my aesthetic:
If anything, I like seeing this first proposal, which is pompous and all about how he has struggled “in vain,” if only to know what the second proposal awaits. He will be much kinder. The second proposal will be about doing him the honor of becoming his wife. Instead of this moment where he’s like, it’ll be your honor not mine. He’s quite full of himself. Neither I nor Elizabeth appreciate it.
- “I have been walking in the grove some time in the hope of meeting you. Will you do me the honour of reading that letter?”
I’m glad he didn’t wait too long to deliver his letter of explanation. It’s better to give it before she’s simmering in her disdain of him. Also, him thinking over their argument enough to write a letter is already a change for the better. Warning: An important distinction to make here is that Elizabeth doesn’t go into a relationship with Darcy hoping to change his bitter ways. He changes himself for the better first and then presents himself to her in the hopes of being accepted.
- I can’t decide what’s sweeter: Mr. Wicked– ahem, I mean, Mr. Wickham getting exposed by Darcy. Or that fiery back-and-forth that Elizabeth spewed at Darcy… We’ve already discussed the latter. So let’s focus on the fall of Mr.
“She tried to recollect some instance of goodness, some distinguished trait of integrity or benevolence, that might rescue him from the attacks of Mr. Darcy; or at least, by the predominance of virtue, atone for those casual errors under which she would endeavour to class what Mr. Darcy had described as the idleness and vice of many years’ continuance. But no such recollection befriended her.”
And this right here illustrates why it’s important when you “love” someone to know exactly the reasons behind it. So that when you’re offered a sudden twist to their character, you are able to recall those moments of kindness or goodness that made you fall in “love.” Otherwise, you were simply deceived by your feelings into thinking him the same man you made up in your head. Thank you, Jane Austen, for explaining it so fully.
“She perfectly remembered everything that had passed in conversation between Wickham and herself, in their first evening at Mr. Phillips’s. Many of his expressions were still fresh in her memory. She was now struck with the impropriety of such communications to a stranger, and wondered it had escaped her before.”
This says it all!! However exciting it may be to be approached so suddenly by a handsome man, the fact is that Mr. Wickham is a stranger to Elizabeth at that moment. If he’s so eager and willing to approach her, a stranger, then he might feel safe to do the same to another stranger even when they’re together.
This moment of discovery might be more worthwhile than reading Darcy’s professions of love. To suddenly look at someone without those rose-colored glasses creates a full 180 effect. I live for rare moments like these.
- And this is how her good opinion on Darcy starts: with his
love letter. Rereading it over and over. Imagining him speculating over what to write. Feeling his feelings.
“She studied every sentence; and her feelings towards its writer were at times widely different.”
- If we’re being frank, I relied heavily on Darcy’s back-and-forth with Elizabeth, and of course, Bingley’s kindness with Jane. Without it, the book went by excruciatingly slow. I don’t care for Mr. Collins or Mrs. Bennet, or the extravagant house tours, dinner parties, and garden walks. Really, all I was seeking was more Darcy. Unfortunately, he was given to us only near the end.
Coming into this after reading New Moon (we all remember the pain with that one, my review title gives it all away: New Moon Gave Me Trust Issues), I was just done with having to wait for the love interest to grace us with his appearance. I didn’t have any patience left. However, unlike the Twilight book, Pride and Prejudice made the wait feel worthwhile. Seeing Darcy’s change of character was everything I needed.
I just have to say, it is so wonderful reading Pride and Prejudice when I’m simply basking in the glory that the hardships between Darcy and Elizabeth are left behind us. They’re actually enjoying each other’s company now! and they’re talking and blushing! blushing! ! !
“Of the lady’s sensations they remained a little in doubt; but that the gentleman was overflowing with admiration was evident enough.”
Oh, you can tell by that loving smile.
Let’s roll with the momentum so that I can share some of my favorite Darcy moments:
- “They were confined for the evening at different tables, and she had nothing to hope, but that his eyes were so often turned towards her side of the room, as to make him play as unsuccessfully as herself.”
The tension! ! ! This is felt throughout the book. We’re so close yet so far away. . . .
It’s never about the grand proclamations of love for me, rather the subtle moments that lead to those big moments, like Darcy staying with Elizabeth when she’s distressed over family news, or keeping his promise of taking her uncle fishing, and of course, wanting to introduce his two favorite women to each other: his sister, Miss Darcy, and Elizabeth. And the simple fact of him awaiting to accompany her on her walks just to spent time aimlessly wandering together.
But the most romantic scene of all lives in this moment:
“If you will thank me,” he replied, “let it be for yourself alone. That the wish of giving happiness to you might add force to the other inducements which led me on, I shall not attempt to deny. But your family owe me nothing. Much as I respect them, I believe I thought only of you.”
He did it… for her! And then all it took for him to propose a second time is for her to just talk to him after all this time spent staring from afar. And I’m glad for it. We don’t have time to waste when it comes to these two. Oh, help, I sound like Mrs. Bennet.
Hearing this all play out with Your Hands Are Cold in the background is all I need.
To add to that, the true hilarity of what finally brings them together doesn’t escape me: Lady Catherine, of all people. She riled up Elizabeth. The two unite at last to ridicule her ladyship.
“Lady Catherine has been of infinite use, which ought to make her happy, for she loves to be of use. ”
It’s interesting that with these two introverts in love there must always be one to speak up to break their introverted ways. In our case it’s Elizabeth. Thankfully.
“You might have talked to me more when you came to dinner.”
“A man who had felt less, might.”
“How unlucky that you should have a reasonable answer to give, and that I should be so reasonable as to admit it! But I wonder how long you would have gone on, if you had been left to yourself. I wonder when you would have spoken, if I had not asked you!”
- Also, the elephant in the room: Lydia Bennet, or rather Mrs. Wickham, is something else entirely. I feel like Lizzy’s speech for Darcy’s “selfish disdain of the feelings of others” is better reserved for Lydia. You can tell her age by her ideas of marriage. She sees it as nothing more than a game!
“She longed to see Mrs. Phillips, the Lucases, and all their other neighbours, and to hear herself called “Mrs. Wickham” by each of them; and in the mean time, she went after dinner to show her ring, and boast of being married, to Mrs. Hill and the two housemaids.”
She has no implication of what marriage entails and what it possesses other than showing off your ring, which won’t be so shiny in a year’s time.
“I am sure my sisters must all envy me. I only hope they may have half my good luck. ”
This says it all. Lydia wanted to win the game of “Who will marry first?” Wait and see the glorious men your sisters will marry… Her adoration for Wickham won’t last long in comparison.
“But you know married women have never much time for writing. My sisters may write to 𝘮𝘦. They will have nothing else to do.”
um, chile… anyways
- Let us end on a good note in praise of a most beloved family member: Mrs. Gardiner.
“It originated in Mrs. Gardiner, who, fatigued by the exercise of the morning, found Elizabeth’s arm inadequate to her support, and consequently preferred her husband’s. Mr. Darcy took her place by her niece, and they walked on together.”
Meet the original wing-woman of the 1800s:
Ah! Speaking of the movie, I did post my immediate thoughts upon first viewing the 2005 adaptation. I titled it appropriately: You Have Bewitched Me Body and Soul, Mr. Darcy.
In need of more Jane Austen love? Scroll through my twitter thread below for more in-detail live-tweets as I was reading:
Thankfully, there are many gorgeous Pride and Prejudice editions to peruse. Choose your fighter:
Let me know if I did anyone’s English homework with this thread. Ha!