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.
Mr. Bennet had very often wished before this period of his life that, instead of spending his whole income, he had laid by an annual sum, for the better provision of his children, and of his wife, if she survived him. He now wished it more than ever. Had he done his duty in that respect, Lydia need not have been indebted to her uncle for whatever of honour or credit could now be purchased for her. The satisfaction of prevailing on one of the most worthless young men in Great Britain to be her husband might then have rested in its proper place.
Sense of freedom and savings do not go together.
Savings come to the thrifty or the responsible.
His wife is extravagant, his responsibility avoided debts.
He has, in fact, failed his children with respect to entail.
But his sense of responsibility made him survive and brought two rich sons-in-law.
To study the novel from the point of view of character and marriage is another complete effort for the scholar.
He had with great solicitude prevailed on one the most worthless women in all England to be his wife. It directly leads him to the effort of persuading one of the most worthless men in all of England to be Lydia’s husband.
His determination to return the money is the basis of her life being prevented from ruin.
He was seriously concerned that a cause of so little advantage to any one should be forwarded at the sole expence of his brother-in-law, and he was determined, if possible, to find out the extent of his assistance, and to discharge the obligation as soon as he could.
When first Mr. Bennet had married, economy was held to be perfectly useless; for, of course, they were to have a son. This son was to join in cutting off the entail, as soon as he should be of age, and the widow and younger children would by that means be provided for. Five daughters successively entered the world, but yet the son was to come; and Mrs. Bennet, for many years after Lydia's birth, had been certain that he would. This event had at last been despaired of, but it was then too late to be saving. Mrs. Bennet had no turn for economy, and her husband's love of independence had alone prevented their exceeding their income.
Economy was held to be perfectly useless.
No savings can be had in a house where this attitude enters.
They were to have a son.
He will not come if you expect.
The total dominance of the wife is seen as female children.
Mr. Bennet awaited a son and did not save. Had he saved, son or no son, the son would have arrived is the rule. The son comes for the attitude
Five thousand pounds was settled by marriage articles on Mrs. Bennet and the children. But in what proportions it should be divided amongst the latter depended on the will of the parents. This was one point, with regard to Lydia, at least, which was now to be settled, and Mr. Bennet could have no hesitation in acceding to the proposal before him. In terms of grateful acknowledgment for the kindness of his brother, though expressed most concisely, he then delivered on paper his perfect approbation of all that was done, and his willingness to fulfil the engagements that had been made for him. He had never before supposed that, could Wickham be prevailed on to marry his daughter, it would be done with so little inconvenience to himself as by the present arrangement. He would scarcely be ten pounds a year the loser by the hundred that was to be paid them; for, what with her board and pocket allowance, and the continual presents in money which passed to her through her mother's hands, Lydia's expences had been very little within that sum.
He told Elizabeth Wickham would jilt her.
Now Wickham heard his accusation in the subtle plane and is taking his revenge.
His disgust of Lydia got her Wickham as husband.
In Lydia’s wedding we see how totally responsible Mr. Bennet was.
That it would be done with such trifling exertion on his side, too, was another very welcome surprise; for his chief wish at present was to have as little trouble in the business as possible. When the first transports of rage which had produced his activity in seeking her were over, he naturally returned to all his former indolence. His letter was soon dispatched; for, though dilatory in undertaking business, he was quick in its execution. He begged to know farther particulars of what he was indebted to his brother, but was too angry with Lydia to send any message to her.
His chief wish is to have as little trouble in the business as possible.
’He does not wish to think of his wife’.
Work on land makes one indolent. He hates London. He was not active in the wedding of his children.
Austen speaks of a trait of laziness. Its difficulty is in initiative, not in execution. Laziness is energy in potential. Hence, initiation is difficult, as it has to break out of the inertia. Once the energy is released, it flows
The good news quickly spread through the house, and with proportionate speed through the neighbourhood. It was borne in the latter with decent philosophy. To be sure, it would have been more for the advantage of conversation had Miss Lydia Bennet come upon the town; or, as the happiest alternative, been secluded from the world, in some distant farm house. But there was much to be talked of in marrying her; and the good-natured wishes of her well-doing which had proceeded before from all the spiteful old ladies in Meryton, lost but little of their spirit in this change of circumstances, because with such an husband her misery was considered certain.
Good news quickly spreads. Never does good news move quickly. It only means the locality is not of bad people
It was a fortnight since Mrs. Bennet had been downstairs; but on this happy day she again took her seat at the head of her table, and in spirits oppressively high. No sentiment of shame gave a damp to her triumph. The marriage of a daughter, which had been the first object of her wishes since Jane was sixteen, was now on the point of accomplishment, and her thoughts and her words ran wholly on those attendants of elegant nuptials, fine muslins, new carriages, and servants. She was busily searching through the neighbourhood for a proper situation for her daughter, and, without knowing or considering what their income might be, rejected many as deficient in size and importance.
Meryton was disappointed in her wedding as they missed gossip.
Their disappointment brought Bingley and Darcy.
The population is capable of indulging in meanness, but is not actually vicious or spiteful.
The readiness with which Mrs. Bennet recovered shows the capacity of human alacrity.
No shame damped her manners.
She is raw, physical, untouched by culture or society.
It will be a good study to see how he married her.
He is indolent, she is dynamic.
"Haye Park might do," said she, "if the Gouldings would quit it -- or the great house at Stoke, if the drawing-room were larger; but Ashworth is too far off! I could not bear to have her ten miles from me; and as for Purvis Lodge, the attics are dreadful."
He withdraws into his room, she spends £2000 on externals.
Her interest in the marriage of the girls is not so much for security as to celebrate her own beauty in them.
In rejecting several houses, she acts with respect to her own imagination, not with that of reality.
So many big houses are empty. It means people have moved to London. Mrs. Bennet already started spreading her social waves. Mr. Bennet put a dampen on it. Elizabeth is sorry that she let Darcy know of Lydia. (The desire to hide from the benefactor is true with respect to Elizabeth). An event like elopement arises in a person’s life when he is capable of this trait of hiding the result from the benefactor
Her husband allowed her to talk on without interruption while the servants remained. But when they had withdrawn, he said to her, "Mrs. Bennet, before you take any or all of these houses for your son and daughter, let us come to a right understanding. Into one house in this neighbourhood they shall never have admittance. I will not encourage the impudence of either, by receiving them at Longbourn."
However much she asserts or shouts, she finally obeys her husband
In going to Brighton, she acted so.
In his refusing to go to Bingley a second time, she did so.
The problem lies more in his attitude than in her intransigence.
He refused to receive Lydia at home, she had to keep quiet. Only his daughters persuaded him to invite her.
A long dispute followed this declaration; but Mr. Bennet was firm. It soon led to another; and Mrs. Bennet found, with amazement and horror, that her husband would not advance a guinea to buy clothes for his daughter. He protested that she should receive from him no mark of affection whatever on the occasion. Mrs. Bennet could hardly comprehend it. That his anger could be carried to such a point of inconceivable resentment as to refuse his daughter a privilege without which her marriage would scarcely seem valid, exceeded all that she could believe possible. She was more alive to the disgrace which the want of new clothes must reflect on her daughter's nuptials, than to any sense of shame at her eloping and living with Wickham a fortnight before they took place.
She was amazed and horrified when he refuses to encourage Lydia’s action.
This is the truth of her reality.
She is a vulgar woman who prides in the success of her vulgarity.
Elizabeth was now most heartily sorry that she had, from the distress of the moment, been led to make Mr. Darcy acquainted with their fears for her sister; for since her marriage would so shortly give the proper termination to the elopement, they might hope to conceal its unfavourable beginning from all those who were not immediately on the spot.
The confrontation over Lydia’s clothes may be the first ever confrontation between them.
He was angry at Lydia. She is delightfully proud of her wedding. It is the truth.
Both the daughters’ persuade him to oblige her. It is a greater Truth.
Now that Darcy cannot be an object of marriage, she considers the various possibilities of her non-acceptability to him. It was a repugnance to her to accept the good reputation of his. Now she values him as he is not at all available. His value is seen in his absence
She had no fear of its spreading farther through his means. There were few people on whose secrecy she would have more confidently depended; but, at the same time, there was no one whose knowledge of a sister's frailty would have mortified her so much -- not, however, from any fear of disadvantage from it individually to herself, for, at any rate, there seemed a gulf impassable between them. Had Lydia's marriage been concluded on the most honourable terms, it was not to be supposed that Mr. Darcy would connect himself with a family where, to every other objection, would now be added an alliance and relationship of the nearest kind with the man whom he so justly scorned.
More alive to the disgrace of old clothes than the shame of running away.
This is the mind of small people. Women are more so.
The less educated, rustic, superstitious people are so.
It is the truth of falsehood, the form without content.
Elizabeth’s sorrow at telling Darcy is evolutionary truth.
One’s truth, sincerity, reality is seen in this attitude.
Instinctively Elizabeth resents the help Darcy has rendered.
Because he has saved her, Elizabeth wants to hide it from him.
A good many, if not all, do so, after knowing the truth.
The urge to hide the fact from the ONLY person who helped is universal.
One cannot see an exception. The conscientious will reluctantly tell him feebly once. Elizabeth honours the rule.
She had total confidence in Darcy.
But it is Darcy she does not want to know it.
From such a connexion she could not wonder that he should shrink. The wish of procuring her regard, which she had assured herself of his feeling in Derbyshire, could not in rational expectation survive such a blow as this. She was humbled, she was grieved; she repented, though she hardly knew of what. She became jealous of his esteem, when she could no longer hope to be benefited by it. She wanted to hear of him, when there seemed the least chance of gaining intelligence. She was convinced that she could have been happy with him, when it was no longer likely they should meet.
Darcy qualifies to enter her family because he arranged for Lydia’s marriage and accepted Wickham.
Humbled, grieved, repented and was blank.
This is her progress.
She was jealous of his esteem.
A qualification to marry.
What a triumph for him, as she often thought, could he know that the proposals which she had proudly spurned only four months ago, would now have been gladly and gratefully received! He was as generous, she doubted not, as the most generous of his sex; but while he was mortal, there must be a triumph.
She longed for him.
She wanted to hear of him.
She began now to comprehend that he was exactly the man who, in disposition and talents, would most suit her. His understanding and temper, though unlike her own, would have answered all her wishes. It was an union that must have been to the advantage of both; by her ease and liveliness, his mind might have been softened, his manners improved; and from his judgment, information, and knowledge of the world, she must have received benefit of greater importance.
‘What a triumph for him’.
It is her triumph.
Mortal men triumph.
It is true.
Lydia’s marriage, the humiliation she suffered from it, made her think of his suitability to her for the first time.
Thought arises from humility.
But no such happy marriage could now teach the admiring multitude what connubial felicity really was. An union of a different tendency, and precluding the possibility of the other, was soon to be formed in their family.
How Wickham and Lydia were to be supported in tolerable independence, she could not imagine. But how little of permanent happiness could belong to a couple who were only brought together because their passions were stronger than their virtue, she could easily conjecture.
Mr. Gardiner soon wrote again to his brother. To Mr. Bennet's acknowledgments he briefly replied, with assurances of his eagerness to promote the welfare of any of his family; and concluded with entreaties that the subject might never be mentioned to him again. The principal purport of his letter was to inform them that Mr. Wickham had resolved on quitting the Militia.
She is worried more for Wickham than for Lydia.
How could they be supported? Not they, but him.
She did extend support later.
Gardiner’s letter on militia, debts, wedding, visit to Longbourn, etc. Erring people brought to the fold is common. But it is not common to find them unashamed of their conduct. People who cannot take care of themselves go down in the social scale. Nor do they expect others to prevent them from sliding down. In rare cases it is done. The most common feature is their oblivious unconscious ingratitude which is impudence. To expect any other behaviour from them is not possible
"It was greatly my wish that he should do so," he added, "as soon as his marriage was fixed on. And I think you will agree with me, in considering a removal from that corps as highly advisable, both on his account and my niece's. It is Mr. Wickham's intention to go into the regulars; and among his former friends there are still some who are able and willing to assist him in the army. He has the promise of an ensigncy in General -- 's regiment, now quartered in the north. It is an advantage to have it so far from this part of the kingdom. He promises fairly; and I hope among different people, where they may each have a character to preserve, they will both be more prudent. I have written to Colonel Forster, to inform him of our present arrangements, and to request that he will satisfy the various creditors of Mr. Wickham in and near Brighton, with assurances of speedy payment, for which I have pledged myself. And will you give yourself the trouble of carrying similar assurances to his creditors in Meryton, of whom I shall subjoin a list according to his information? He has given in all his debts; I hope at least he has not deceived us. Haggerston has our directions, and all will be completed in a week. They will then join his regiment, unless they are first invited to Longbourn; and I understand from Mrs. Gardiner that my niece is very desirous of seeing you all before she leaves the south. She is well, and begs to be dutifully remembered to you and her mother. -- Your's, etc., E. Gardiner."
Mr. Gardiner is true, generous, does not want borrowed feathers, will gladly pay for Lydia. Is not known whether he could afford it.
His asking Bennet not to mention his help does not strike true.
Mr. Bennet’s resolve to return itself is a confirmation.
Had Mr. Gardiner paid, he would have paid for his sister’s folly.
It is contrary to the English tradition. Lord Lupton only lends £900, does not gift it.
At least Wickham has not deceived me in his debts.
This indicates something, I don’t see.
He realises that Wickham is not one he could have effectively handled.
Mr. Bennet and his daughters saw all the advantages of Wickham's removal from the -- -- shire as clearly as Mr. Gardiner could do. But Mrs. Bennet was not so well pleased with it. Lydia's being settled in the north, just when she had expected most pleasure and pride in her company, for she had by no means given up her plan of their residing in Hertfordshire, was a severe disappointment; and, besides, it was such a pity that Lydia should be taken from a regiment where she was acquainted with everybody, and had so many favourites.
Mr. Gardiner delicately refrains from asking Bennet to receive Lydia.
Maybe he will be pleased if invited.
We see a shade of his sister in him.
"She is so fond of Mrs. Forster," said she, "it will be quite shocking to send her away! And there are several of the young men, too, that she likes very much. The officers may not be so pleasant in General -- 's regiment."
To Mrs. Bennet it is a triumph to have a daughter, that too Lydia, married.
It is impossible for her nor to celebrate it.
Here she is celebrating her superiority over her husband.
Man wants to destroy his benefactor and invites his victim to celebrate his own victory.
‘Lydia has so many favourites in the Militia’’ – Mrs. Bennet.
Even shamelessness is an occasion for her to celebrate.
His daughter's request, for such it might be considered, of being admitted into her family again before she set off for the north, received at first an absolute negative. But Jane and Elizabeth, who agreed in wishing, for the sake of their sister's feelings and consequence, that she should be noticed on her marriage by her parents, urged him so earnestly, yet so rationally and so mildly, to receive her and her husband at Longbourn, as soon as they were married, that he was prevailed on to think as they thought, and act as they wished. And their mother had the satisfaction of knowing that she should be able to shew her married daughter in the neighbourhood before she was banished to the north. When Mr. Bennet wrote again to his brother, therefore, he sent his permission for them to come; and it was settled that, as soon as the ceremony was over, they should proceed to Longbourn. Elizabeth was surprised, however, that Wickham should consent to such a scheme; and had she consulted only her own inclination, any meeting with him would have been the last object of her wishes.
Jane and Elizabeth feel like their mother.
Lydia wants everyone in Meryton to congratulate her.
It was wrong to have allowed that display.
‘Urged him so rationally’.
Rationality here means politeness. I would add both the sisters wanted to meet Wickham.
Left to Mrs. Bennet, she would have had a marriage dinner at home.
Elizabeth was surprised by Wickham’s comment.
To him it was immaterial, as he was shameless.
The strength of energy for this invitation came from Mrs. Bennet and Lydia.
Of course, Jane would like to see him and congratulate him.
Elizabeth knowing she has little chance of seeing him later, desired to see him.
In cases like Lydia, what is common is the family does not see them for decades. Even at the end of their lives no reconciliation is usual unless the erring couple come by money or the parental family is soaked in affection. Here Jane and Elizabeth take an unpardonable initiative to bring them home. On their arrival, Mrs. Bennet behaves exactly as Lydia and Lydia seeks to make capital out of her adventure while the scoundrel tries to see to what extent his falsehood still survives