My last public formulation of my complicated thoughts about Charlotte Lucas as a closeted lesbian can be found here:
I had reason yesterday to revisit the passage in which Charlotte first
reveals her engagement to Mr. Collins to Elizabeth, and this time
around, I saw something in it that had me shaking my head partly in
admiration for JA's ability to hide stuff in plain sight, and partly in
chagrin that I had overlooked that stuff the first 30 times I read that
I will first make my point implicitly by means of ALL CAPS of certain
key excerpts within the passage, and then state the significance I see
in those excerpts if you scroll down the page, for those who wish to
have a go at figuring out what I claim is there--I think the
capitalizations make my interpretation clear:
Miss Lucas called soon after breakfast, and in A PRIVATE CONFERENCE WITH
ELIZABETH related the event of the day before.
The possibility of Mr. Collins's fancying himself in love with her
friend had once occurred to Elizabeth within the last day or two; but
that Charlotte could encourage him seemed almost as far from possibility
as she could encourage him herself, and her astonishment was
consequently SO GREAT AS TO OVERCOME AT FIRST THE BOUNDS OF DECORUM, and
SHE COULD NOT HELP CRYING OUT:
"Engaged to Mr. Collins! My dear Charlotte—impossible!"
The steady COUNTenance which Miss Lucas had commanded in telling her
story, GAVE WAY TO A MOMENTARY CONFUSION here on RECEIVING SO DIRECT A
rePROACH; though, as it was NO MORE THAN SHE EXPECTED, she soon REGAINED
HER COMPOSURE, and calmly replied:
"Why should you be surprised, my dear Eliza? Do you think it incredible
that Mr. Collins should be able to procure any woman's good opinion,
because he was not so happy as to succeed with you?"
But ELIZABETH HAD NOW RECOLLECTED HERSELF, and MAKING A STRONG EFFORT
FOR IT, was able to assure WITH TOLERABLE FIRMNESS that the prospect of
their relationship was highly grateful to her, and that she wished her
all imaginable happiness.
"I see WHAT YOU ARE FEELING," replied Charlotte. "You must be surprised,
very much surprised—so lately as Mr. Collins was wishing to marry you.
But when you have had time to think it over, I hope YOU WILL BE
SATISFIED WITH WHAT I HAVE DONE. I am not romantic, you know; I never
was. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr. Collins's
character, connection, and situation in life, I am convinced that my
chance of happiness with him is as fair as most people can boast on
entering the marriage state."
For my interpretation, scroll down....
My interpretation is that the ALL CAPS portions of the above quoted
passage could be transposed, without any alteration, to Cleland's Fanny
Hill, a novel which I have previously claimed was not only well known to
JA, but which she actually alluded to in great depth--so to speak---in
Those ALL CAPS portions could be transposed without any alteration
provided, of course, that the non-capitalized portions were suitably
And JA's point in all this, I assert, was not to suggest that Lizzy and
Charlotte were having actual physical sex during their "private
conference", but rather to suggest a subliminal aura of the physical
attraction that I believe _did_ exist between Charlotte and Lizzy, one
which perhaps Charlotte wished to consummate but which Lizzy was not
ever going to---it is as if the narrator, picking up the scent of that
attraction, has herself become aroused and therefore chooses words with
heavy Freudian overtones to describe the conversation.
And I also just realized, as I was writing this post, that part of the
reason why I am confident that Lizzy would never have positively
responded to a direct sexual APproach from Charlotte is contained in the
narrative paragraph which immediately follows the above, and I have
again used ALL CAPS to show the relevant clue:
"Elizabeth quietly answered "Undoubtedly;" and after an awkward pause,
they returned to the rest of the family. Charlotte did not stay much
longer, and Elizabeth was then left to reflect on what she had heard. It
was a long time before she became at all reconciled to the idea of so
unsuitable a match. The strangeness of Mr. Collins's making two offers
of marriage within three days was nothing in comparison of his being now
accepted. SHE HAD ALWAYS FELT THAT CHARLOTTE'S OPINION OF MATRIMONY WAS
NOT EXACTLY HER OWN, but she had not supposed it to be possible that,
when called into action, she would have sacrificed every better feeling
to worldly advantage."
"not exactly her own" is JA's dry-as-toast understated ironic way of
saying, indirectly, that Lizzy has always known that Charlotte was not
And this fits perfectly with my claims that Charlotte Lucas the schemer
(as first articulated by Kim Damstra 13 years ago, and then unwittingly
repeated without crediting by John Sutherland) knew that in the end of
the day, she'd be in close proximity to Elizabeth on a permanent basis,
when Darcy gives Mr. Collins a living in close proximity to Pemberley!
@JaneAustenCode on Twitter
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Thursday, June 14, 2012
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