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Pride & Prejudice: Chapter 17

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This commentary was prepared by Karmayogi of The Mother’s Service Society (India). See karmayogi.net or MSS Research. The Comments column is intended for brief insightful remarks on the text. For longer comments or questions use the Talk page of this article or create a new article and add a link in the comments section of this page or under the appropriate heading on P&P project mainpage.



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Elizabeth related to Jane the next day what had passed between Mr. Wickham and herself. Jane listened with astonishment and concern; she knew not how to believe that Mr. Darcy could be so unworthy of Mr. Bingley's regard; and yet, it was not in her nature to question the veracity of a young man of such amiable appearance as Wickham. The possibility of his having really endured such unkindness, was enough to interest all her tender feelings; and nothing therefore remained to be done, but to think well of them both, to defend the conduct of each, and throw into the account of accident or mistake whatever could not be otherwise explained.

1
  • Ultimate interest is seen as impatience to communicate.
  • The one exercise of Jane is NOT to think ill of anyone.
  • She is following a great ideal at her level of foolishness.
  • Jane is the confidante of Elizabeth in a greater measure than Elizabeth is to Jane. It is her out going to Jane in an act of self-giving. Therefore she was able to bring Bingley to Jane
  • From an integral point of view, we can discover some justification in Jane’s blatantly stupid attitude. One can become a genius if he can understand the original impulses of stupidity.

"They have both," said she, "been deceived, I dare say, in some way or other, of which we can form no idea. Interested people have perhaps misrepresented each to the other. It is, in short, impossible for us to conjecture the causes or circumstances which may have alienated them, without actual blame on either side." 17 jane Pride and Prejudice

4
  • As one progresses in the eight reversals, one discovers the folly of the previous stage. Instead, the knowledge of the Marvel can see it as a necessary stage of growth – the knowledge of Ignorance.
  • Reversals are brought about by fresh facts, changed context for the same facts, changing view, a new goal, a higher plane, the outer as the inner, the inner that includes the outer, abolition of the distinction of outer and inner.
  • Jane’s policy is NOT to acknowledge anyone’s shortfalls.
  • It is one important reason for Bingley could come back to her as the one whose defects are not noticed expands himself to the other person. Expansiveness permits no failure
  • Jane evaluates Darcy in terms of Bingley’s regard as Bingley is her centre of emotions.
  • An act is accomplished by the emotional strength not on the strength of understanding. This attitude contributes to Jane’s wedding.
  • No woman thinks of Wickham except in amiable appearance.
  • Jane identifies readily with the victim.
  • She would rather defend both. Any mistake is for Jane, accidental. This appears naïve, foolish, blind, but to take this position one needs a great strength of character.
  • She attributes the result to an unknown cause.
  • She attributes the mischief to interested outsiders

"Very true, indeed; -- and now, my dear Jane, what have you got to say in behalf of the interested people who have probably been concerned in the business? -- Do clear them too, or we shall be obliged to think ill of somebody."

7
  • The more Jane tries to justify both, the more Elizabeth is trying to fix the blame on some one

"Laugh as much as you chuse, but you will not laugh me out of my opinion. My dearest Lizzy, do but consider in what a disgraceful light it places Mr. Darcy, to be treating his father's favourite in such a manner -- one whom his father had promised to provide for. It is impossible. No man of common humanity, no man who had any value for his character, could be capable of it. Can his most intimate friends be so excessively deceived in him? -- oh! No."

9
  • Opinions are to be laughed out.
  • Jane would not place Darcy in a disgraceful light. Nor would she allow that Bingley was deceived in that. Her opinion, a fully positive one, was firm. That is her character
  • Changing context makes the impossible possible.

"I can much more easily believe Mr. Bingley's being imposed on, than that Mr. Wickham should invent such a history of himself as he gave me last night; names, facts, everything mentioned without ceremony. If it be not so, let Mr. Darcy contradict it. Besides, there was truth in his looks."

14
  • Culture taking upon itself the role of a rogue or scoundrel allows ceremony to disappear, whereas the scoundrel thrives on the energy of ceremony.
  • The liar lies and invites the man of truth to contradict it.
  • Life permits the possibility of the impossible or irrational.
  • Elizabeth would more easily believe that Bingley was naïve than imputing falsification to Wickham. For no reason she could see any blemish in her favourite. It was her grave digger. It was there Life was atrocious to her. It was there she was called upon to reverse
  • Names, facts, everything Wickham mentioned were without ceremony. To her they were gospel truth.
  • It is Wickham who falsified, fabricated, insinuated countless innuendoes. She wants Darcy to contradict as if it was his birth right. The crime is Wickham’s. She wants the onus of proof on the accused! It is the rationality of an adoring heart, adoring falsehood

"It is difficult indeed -- it is distressing. One does not know what to think."

17
  • Jane’s whole personality is non-plussed.
  • Jane refuses to think. Obstinacy of stupidity seeks refuge in stillness

"I beg your pardon; one knows exactly what to think."

19
  • Jane thinks of the consequences to Bingley, if there was any truth in the accusation

But Jane could think with certainty on only one point -- that Mr. Bingley, if he had been imposed on, would have much to suffer when the affair became public.

20
  • In any issue, each man thinks of his own interest.
  • Jane’s deep concern for Bingley brings Bingley as Life Response.
  • Jane’s concern is Bingley, Elizabeth’s Wickham.

The two young ladies were summoned from the shrubbery, where this conversation passed, by the arrival of some of the very persons of whom they had been speaking: Mr. Bingley and his sisters came to give their personal invitation for the long-expected ball at Netherfield, which was fixed for the following Tuesday. The two ladies were delighted to see their dear friend again -- called it an age since they had met, and repeatedly asked what she had been doing with herself since their separation. To the rest of the family they paid little attention: avoiding Mrs. Bennet as much as possible, saying not much to Elizabeth, and nothing at all to the others. They were soon gone again, rising from their seats with an activity which took their brother by surprise, and hurrying off as if eager to escape from Mrs. Bennet's civilities.

21
  • Life responds bringing Bingley and his sisters. We can say Jane’s refusal to accuse Bingley brings him there.
  • It is certainly an age since they met as Jane delights them so intensely as to derive the pleasure of an age in a day.
  • One delights in a human context that is fully receptive.
  • With Elizabeth it is human interaction with a formed personality. With Jane who absorbs their energy as a blotting paper, both the sisters express themselves fully and expand during the process of self-expression.
  • Jane’s receptivity is full as she accepts them as they are.
  • As Elizabeth holds a grudge against Darcy, the visitors would not say much to her. The subtle sense is perceptive
  • Mrs. Bennet is all energy. The sisters are energyless and dread her dynamism more than her boorishness.

The prospect of the Netherfield ball was extremely agreeable to every female of the family. Mrs. Bennet chose to consider it as given in compliment to her eldest daughter, and was particularly flattered by receiving the invitation from Mr. Bingley himself, instead of a ceremonious card. Jane pictured to herself a happy evening in the society of her two friends, and the attentions of their brother; and Elizabeth thought with pleasure of dancing a great deal with Mr. Wickham, and of seeing a confirmation of everything in Mr. Darcy's looks and behaviour. The happiness anticipated by Catherine and Lydia depended less on any single event, or any particular person; for though they each, like Elizabeth, meant to dance half the evening with Mr. Wickham, he was by no means the only partner who could satisfy them, and a ball was, at any rate, a ball. And even Mary could assure her family that she had no disinclination for it.

25
  • What expands life is extremely agreeable to people.
  • Balls are enlivening occasions to energetic ladies.
  • Man is at his best to consider himself the centre of life whatever the event.
  • Man is the centre of his world and he sees the same thing about the world.
  • Attention pleases, personal attention is flattery itself.
  • Attention that is recognition is flattering.
  • Anticipation is more enjoyable than the actual fact as it is in the imagination.
  • Elizabeth’s anticipation of seeing Wickham is overridden by the expectation of Darcy’s behaviour.
  • Man dwells on the prospect of pleasure which is an occasion of expansive vital. It s joy that makes one live.
  • Happiness is general to start with, later it becomes particularised.
  • Every female has Wickham in her mind
  • Expectation is ever alive and is eternal.
  • No one ever dances with Mary. Still she attends the balls.

"While I can have my mornings to myself," said she, "it is enough -- I think it no sacrifice to join occasionally in evening engagements. Society has claims on us all; and I profess myself one of those who consider intervals of recreation and amusement as desirable for everybody."

30
  • Neglected Mary is anxious to join the ball. Mary is not averse to ball; but she is conscious that no man has offered to dance with her. Still, a lingering hope makes her go to Netherfield.
  • Self-justification is active and insistent when no one seeks any justification for the simple reason of not being aware of you.

Elizabeth's spirits were so high on the occasion that, though she did not often speak unnecessarily to Mr. Collins, she could not help asking him whether he intended to accept Mr. Bingley's invitation, and if he did, whether he would think it proper to join in the evening's amusement; and she was rather surprised to find that he entertained no scruple whatever on that head, and was very far from dreading a rebuke either from the Archbishop or Lady Catherine de Bourgh, by venturing to dance.

32
  • Spirits highly rise when hopes are full and intense.
  • Elizabeth has an urge to speak to Collins.
  • She has a deep urge to speak to Wickham. As he is not there, her urge reaches the one man she has to overcome to reach Darcy.
  • She expected Collins not to attend the dance but evoked invitation to two dances.
  • The will of life rises in us differently, in intense moments oppositely.
  • High spirits release the impulses which attract the very opposite. Elizabeth could not help speaking to Collins and ends up with two dances with him

"I am by no means of opinion, I assure you," said he, "that a ball of this kind, given by a young man of character, to respectable people, can have any evil tendency; and I am so far from objecting to dancing myself, that I shall hope to be honoured with the hands of all my fair cousins in the course of the evening; and I take this opportunity of soliciting yours, Miss Elizabeth, for the two first dances especially -- a preference which I trust my cousin Jane will attribute to the right cause, and not to any disrespect for her."

33
  • Collins’ attention to her caught no one’s notice, not even her. As his intention has no life, no one notices it.
  • Collins’ apology to Jane is certainly clownish as it reveals the high self-esteem only a clown can have.
  • Collins is not averse to dancing. Only he needs an excuse to join. He is incapable of the right steps but still joins the dancing. What is upper most in his mind is his propriety.
  • Man always invites the catastrophe on himself. So does Elizabeth

Elizabeth felt herself completely taken in. She had fully proposed being engaged by Wickham for those very dances; and to have Mr. Collins instead! -- her liveliness had been never worse timed. There was no help for it, however. Mr. Wickham's happiness and her own was per force delayed a little longer, and Mr. Collins's proposal accepted with as good a grace as she could. She was not the better pleased with his gallantry from the idea it suggested of something more. It now first struck her that she was selected from among her sisters as worthy of being the mistress of Hunsford Parsonage, and of assisting to form a quadrille table at Rosings, in the absence of more eligible visitors. The idea soon reached to conviction, as she observed his increasing civilities toward herself, and heard his frequent attempt at a compliment on her wit and vivacity; and though more astonished than gratified herself by this effect of her charms, it was not long before her mother gave her to understand that the probability of their marriage was exceedingly agreeable to her. Elizabeth, however, did not chuse to take the hint, being well aware that a serious dispute must be the consequence of any reply. Mr. Collins might never make the offer, and till he did, it was useless to quarrel about him.

34
  • Her disappointment indicates later developments.
  • Life releases liveliness by its excess of energy but Man directs it and tries to direct it as his surface inclination prompts, as he is on the surface.
  • Expectation brings the very opposite. Expects Wickham and gets Collins.
  • What is a shame to the receiver, the benefactor feels is a rare privilege to confer on.
  • Elizabeth was mortified by the proposal of Collins.
  • As anyone else, Elizabeth is unaware of his attentions to her.
  • It is a truth of life that Elizabeth deserves Darcy only when she exhausts her opportunity with Collins.
  • Nor will Darcy win Elizabeth before she is disillusioned with Wickham.
  • Understanding comes out of the attitude, not by itself. The moment she suspects his intention, the whole thing is clear to her
  • In one it was humiliating to her and in the other it was a death blow to the family.
  • It is significant that Darcy, Elizabeth, Wickham undergo painful transformations which are shared by Mr. Bennet while Mrs. Bennet is apparently the full beneficiary of the whole change with only a fifteen day confinement to her room.
  • To evaluate each one’s benefit in proportion to his or her suffering is a valuable exercise.

17 collins elizabeth Pride and Prejudice

If there had not been a Netherfield ball to prepare for and talk of, the younger Miss Bennets would have been in a pitiable state at this time; for from the day of the invitation to the day of the ball, there was such a succession of rain as prevented their walking to Meryton once. No aunt, no officers, no news could be sought after -- the very shoe-roses for Netherfield were got by proxy. Even Elizabeth might have found some trial of her patience in weather which totally suspended the improvement of her acquaintance with Mr. Wickham; and nothing less than a dance on Tuesday could have made such a Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday endurable to Kitty and Lydia.

43
  • Their impatience for enjoyment which they never deserved directly led them to a humiliating sorrow.
  • (Subconsciously Elizabeth is attracted to Collins. It is really the attraction to Darcy. Heavy rains on many days before the ball announces the approval of heaven of the final outcome of the ball.)

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