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Lydia Bennet (Pride and Prejudice)

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Lydia is the emerging type of bold, dynamic energy in a society in transition. Bereft of the top dressing of the old and unadorned by the apparel of the new, she is the nascent energy, nakedly forging ahead. Had she not settled as a wife, she might not have degenerated merely into a girl on the street. She might even have spearheaded a revolution of the street girls for their right to live as they choose. Her endowment is shamelessness and an ever-increasing energy. She is irrepressibly cheerful in pursuit of her desires and proud of everything she is.

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Wickham and Lydia are characters ever happy in marriage or outside. They live in the ever-present. The wide world is their society. Their elopement is an opening for social evolution. Through it Eliza rises. Their marriage is a social cover-up, but a biological success. Even if Lydia were not to marry, she would have been blissfully buoyant and free of regret. In the changed social context, Lydia benefits monetarily and escapes the fate of being abandoned or scandalized or left to become an old maid, which would have been her likely destiny in an earlier period. From her point of view, money spent to restore her to respectability is a fool’s errand, or at best meets some meaningless social requirement. Lydia’s elopement is a social shame but a creative act of freshness in life that brings unexpected consequences. Her shame is life’s door to luck for the family.



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Footnotes


P&P refers to the Oxford World's Classics edition of Pride and Prejudice, first published in 1980

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