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Thanks! -- Arnie Perlstein, Portland, OR

Monday, June 29, 2015

P.S. re Why Elizabeth takes an eager interest in Wickham's concerns even after he deserts her for Miss King

For those who've been following along in my latest thread which I started earlier today under the above Subject Line, I am thrilled to be able to present to you a response I received a short while ago in another online discussion, written by Diana Oaks.

Diana (who by the way did NOT ask me to write this post, it's my own idea!) is an author of Austen sequels, and a member of Austen Authors, whose online acquaintance I first made a month ago, and here are two links that will tell you more about her and her writing:

And here is what Diana wrote in specific response to my above captioned post:

"Very interesting. When I read the text, and before I scrolled down to see Arnie's answer, I arrived at the same surprising conclusion he did. Upon reflection, it doesn't seem so surprising at all. Not even much of a stretch.

Elizabeth states that she arrived at her opinion of Darcy "long before" Darcy separated Jane and Bingley. When Darcy complains of her "eager interest" in Wickham's concerns, Elizabeth's wording is precise and does seem to give weight to this theory. She cites his misfortunes as being a natural source of her interest, and blames Darcy for Wickham's relative poverty and lack of independence.
And then, another clue. When Wickham had asked Elizabeth how long she had known Darcy, she said it was about a month. Is it coincidence that she tells Darcy that she had not known him a month before she knew he was the last man in the world she could be prevailed upon to marry? I don't think so. Elizabeth herself has named the date when her dislike of Darcy was firmly set, and it is precisely when Wickham related his "misfortunes" to her.
We know at this time that Wickham had turned her head in a big way, as the next few chapters are full of Elizabeth's feelings for Wickham. It is obvious that she blames Darcy for Wickham's circumstances and prospects, which, by Wickham's account should have been better - good enough for him to have a living in the church that would be sufficient to support a wife, a fact which was shortly afterward illustrated by Mr. Collins' ability to overlook the lack of a dowry when selecting a wife.

I'm inclined to agree that Elizabeth blamed Darcy that Wickham, who she had truly fancied, wasn't in a position to propose to her. Marriage was her eager interest in Wickham, and she believed that his lack of money was to blame for her disappointed hopes." 

I of course was thrilled to receive a response like that, from a reader of P&P who was surprised to find that she found my argument convincing. And note that Diana also picked up on yet another clue (the part about the "month" before Elizabeth knew Darcy would never be her husband coinciding with the very moment when Wickham first told her his tale of woe about Darcy) that shows what a subtle but pervasive effect Elizabeth's feelings for Wickham have on the way she sees the world---until everything shifts, and then it is Elizabeth's feelings for Darcy which color her world.
Maybe one moral of this story is that Elizabeth ought to try living her life without depending on ANY man to color her world, perhaps she'd see the world--and in particular, men----more clearly and dispassionately.
Cheers, ARNIE
@JaneAustenCode on Twitter

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