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Leaving Rosings and Hunsford behind

Mr Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam have left the building. Colonel Fitzwilliam was quite the same as always, but Lady Catherine reports that poor Darcy was quite out of spirits. She believes he's sorry to be leaving her and her sickly daughter, but we (and Elizabeth) know what's behind his black mood. I would venture to say that we readers better understand it than Elizabeth, because we assume him to have been genuinely in love with Elizabeth and I am not quite certain that Elizabeth has allowed herself to fully comprehend that particular fact; I suspect she simply believes he's disappointed, and not anything like heartbroken.

Being rid of her nephews, Lady Catherine now feels "so dull as to make her very desirous of having them all to dine with her." LOL! During dinner, she tries to persuade Elizabeth to extend their visit with the Collinses for another two weeks. She adds that if they can wait another full month, she'll take one of them - Elizabeth or Maria - to London herself in the Barouche (a luxury sort of open carriage with a retractable hood - Wikipedia has a good page on it). The "Barouche box" is the driver's seat, and Lady Catherine is offering to have her maid sit on the Barouche box next to the driver in order to make space for one of the young women. She adds that if it's not too hot out, she would take both of them (since they're both slim and could therefore wedge into the carriage along with Lady Catherine and, presumably, Anne De Bourgh and her companion).

Elizabeth declines Lady Catherine's invitation, saying that her father is anxious for her to return. I love Lady Catherine's reply: "Oh! your father of course may spare you, if your mother can. -- Daughters are never of so much consequence to a father."

Lady Catherine then interjects her opinions on their travel plans and packing, including demanding that a servant attend them the whole way (already taken care of by Mr Gardiner sending a manservant) and bossing Maria about how to pack her own trunks. Along the way, Lady Catherine confirms that Georgiana Darcy was in Ramsgate the prior summer - it's nothing that Austen belabors, and Lizzy doesn't dwell on it, but it is almost certainly there to lend further credence (for the reader) to Darcy's letter. And perhaps to show that Lady Catherine worries about the details but is clueless when it comes to the big picture.

The chapter closes with an update on Elizabeth's state of mind. She has pretty much memorized Darcy's letter, and although she's not (yet) sorry to have turned him down, she IS sorry for how harsh she was to him, since she now understands him to be an honest, respectable man, and she knows she hurt his feelings and disappointed him, so she feels a bit sorry for him. Those of you reading the book for the first time may want to keep an eye on how Elizabeth thinks and speaks of Mr Darcy from here on out, because it is fascinating to see how Austen develops the progression of Elizabeth's thoughts and feelings.

Elizabeth is also left bemoaning her family's manners and behaviour. She has always realized that her mother was not a particularly diligent parent, but it has now occurred to her that her father is also delinquent in his paternal duties. He so enjoys laughing at ridiculous behaviour that he refuses to "check" the wildness of her two youngest siblings, Kitty (Catherine) and Lydia. Thinking about how her family's behaviour is the real reason that Darcy objected to Bingley's match with Jane (and the primary reason that he hesitated to propose to Elizabeth himself), she is quite depressed - a rare thing for Elizabeth indeed.

Tomorrow: Chapter 38
Back to Chapter 36

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( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 7th, 2011 01:30 am (UTC)
As if Lady Catherine were going to show up for an inspection. Then again, I wouldn't exactly put it past her!
Feb. 7th, 2011 09:49 am (UTC)
Man Lady Catherine is bossy! How kind of her to offer ne seat an the barouche... what was the other one going to do if it was hot? Run along side??? lol
Poor Lizzy... she really needs Jane to talk to... in the screen version you don't get so much of a sense of how much she mulls this over, or her thought process... I think I would have memorised the letter too.
Feb. 7th, 2011 12:52 pm (UTC)
ps I went to see 'The King's Speech' last night and it was like a P&P reunion, Colin Firth, Jennifer Ehle and David Bamber : ) Plus went I go back Bridget Jones was on so I managed to fit in some more colin firth/darcy action : )
Feb. 7th, 2011 03:06 pm (UTC)
I LOVED The King's Speech (although you already know that, yes?) I've seen it twice, and have actually contemplated a third viewing. I still maintain that Colin Firth deserves to win ALL THE THINGS!
Feb. 7th, 2011 08:48 pm (UTC)
If the cinema wasn't so ridiculously expensive, I'd certainly go again. It was lovely. Even my grandma, who hasn't been to the cinema in my living memory went to see it, she remembers that period well.
Feb. 8th, 2011 12:45 am (UTC)
What did your grandma think about it? Did she tell you any interesting stories about that time as a result?
Feb. 8th, 2011 09:07 am (UTC)
She thought it was spot on... she has always talked of Wallis Simpson in the light that the film showed her in, and of David being irresponsible. No specific stories though, I ought to have asked if they had a wireless and heard the speech I suspect they did. There was a story on the local news about a man who worked outside the palace and heard the king going over and over his words the night before (mst have been all that window opening)... he told his friends what was going to be in the speech and they just laughed, they were suprised when what he had said turned up in the speech.
Feb. 7th, 2011 02:38 pm (UTC)
Run along side - LOL!

On the one hand, Lizzy needs Jane to talk to - on the other, it is probably a good thing that she got the letter without Jane around, what with the information about Bingley in there. She might've shared it right away without thinking, and then Jane would've been heartbroken all over again, to say nothing of blaming Mr Darcy!
Feb. 7th, 2011 06:04 pm (UTC)
Good point : ) Although I meant that now she's had time to re read, and re read it, she needs someone to talk to... yup she has stuff to decide whether to keep from Jane or not : /
Feb. 7th, 2011 06:50 pm (UTC)
Aaaand, how in the world did Darcy have the nerve to object to Lizzy's family's behavior? Okay, so I know that the Bennets' behavior was an order of magnitude more improper than Lady Catherine's, but sheesh. The things she has done in this chapter are still considered rude.

Aaaand, this is also why I don't like Mr Bennet as much as some people do. Most of the bad stuff that happens in the novel are all HIS fault. Well, maybe not ALL his fault, but somewhat. If he had done what he ought as a parent and husband, then some things might have gone better. But then, it wouldn't be a good story without conflict, so it's a good thing, from a reader's point of view that he didn't. I still can't like him, however.
Feb. 7th, 2011 07:51 pm (UTC)
Darcy is obviously embarrassed by his aunt when she offers to let Lizzie practice in "that part of the house", and is clearly not close to her, but she's obviously objectionable.

You are very right about Mr Bennet being at fault. He's already messed up by not insisting that the girls have a governess or tutor or art/music lessons, etc. - they are simply not being raised as "elegant females", and he ought to have made sure they received basic instruction rather than leaving them to run wild. He's neither a proper father nor a proper husband (since he clearly has no respect for his wife and on at least one occasion, discusses his lack of respect for her - not cool).
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