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Thanks! -- Arnie Perlstein, Portland, OR

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

More re the Core Secret of Pride & Prejudice & its Heroine/Orphan/Heiress, Elizabeth Bennet

In Austen L and Janeites today, Diane Reynolds responded in her usual interesting way to my post yesterday….
…about the above.

Diane wrote: "Arnie, I find it fascinating to think of Elizabeth as an illegitimate Darcy farmed out to the Bennets..."

Yes, I find it fascinating too, but the best part of it, I think, is that, in one fell swoop, it provides a naturalistic, plausible, even probable explanation for why these three young men who are all
connected to each other (Darcy, Wickham, and Mr. Collins) converge on Meryton---all three appearing, as it were, out of the mist like mythical creatures sprung to life at the whim of a god---who are, each in their own way, zeroed in on Elizabeth Bennet. And then we have a fourth person, Mrs. Gardiner, who is so strongly connected to both Darcy and Wickham from the past, who ends up playing a critical role in bringing Darcy and Lizzy together.

It reminds me of the movie /Love Potion No. 9/..... which the central conceit is that imbibing even a drop of the gypsy's potent love potion makes a person irresistible to members of the opposite sex, just by speaking.

And in a climactic moment, the villainess of the story cluelessly swallows a whole mouthful of the stuff, as a result of which she winds up being pursued...   
[go to exactly 1:24:38 on this YouTube video of the entire film, and watch the next 5 minutes or so] about 200 men like lemmings racing after her!

That's an extreme exaggeration of what I see happening in P&P, utterly beyond Elizabeth's awareness. From her point of view, she never once questions these coincidences, and so, neither do 99 readers of P&P out of 100.

Now, either this colossal coincidence is the hackwork of an unimaginative novelist who could not find a better way of moving her story forward,'s the genius-level inspiration of a master novelist who realized she could pull off not one but two amazing authorial stunts in the same breath:

1. To so cleverly weave that quadruple coincidence into her story that not one reader in a hundred even notices the extent of that quadruple coincidence, and those that do notice don't mind, because the plot
hurtles forward in such a complex yet seamlessly coordinated fashion, like one of those flabbergasting domino arrangements people create nowadays....


2. To so entrance her readers with the overt or apparent story, that they don't realize that there's an entire alternative story poking its head out of a few hundred wormholes scattered through the novel, and the
heart of that alternative story is that it's no coincidence at all, because each of those three suitors, as well as Mrs. Gardiner, are all aware of what Lizzy is clueless about, i.e., that she is an heiress about to inherit.
In its own way, what JA has done is more flabbergasting than even the domino arrangement I linked to, above. It's as if there was a second domino arrangement behind a curtain where those same 128,000 dominos are run through a different sequence at the same time!

Diane also wrote: "..but then she would have married her half brother! Even in those days ... "

Well, that's one of the reasons why the novel ends when it does, and why we don't get to watch the marriage of Darcy and Elizabeth--maybe we wouldn't be so happy with what we'd see....but then again, maybe Darcy's secretly illegitimate too, and he and Elizabeth don't share a biological parent after all! --- and doesn't that scenario remind you of some other novels of the late 18th century????? ;)

Diane also wrote: "And if she is to be a heiress at 21, why not marry Willoughby? He's the one she really wants. Like Marianne, she has to talk herself into the B choice, and as we've all noted, a visual of
Pemberley smooths the path."

You mean, Wickham of course, but your error is true on a higher level, because Wickham is a reboot of Willloughby.

Well...if there hadn't been offstage interference, I believe she would have married Wickham, and perhaps would have been happy with him.

We'll never know.....

Cheers, ARNIE
@JaneAustenCode on Twitter

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