These chapters make me feel so sad. Jane is such a sweetheart, and to see her suffering--especially so patiently--is just heartbreaking. Elizabeth's anger is quite cathartic for me. She expresses what I feel....disbelief, then wanting to slap Bingley upside the head. :)
And much as she had always been disposed to like him, [Elizabeth] could not think without anger, hardly without contempt, on that easiness of temper, that want of proper resolution, which now made him the slave of his designing friends, and led him to sacrifice his own happiness to the caprice of their inclinations. (Ch. 24)
Jane is, however, the yin to Elizabeth's yang (or yang to her yin??? I never get these straight); I think many readers (especially modern ones?) find Jane somehow morally weak or unlikable because she doesn't get angry at Bingley or because she doesn't want to blame him. I don't. I find her "sweetness" truly "angelic" , and like Elizabeth, it makes me love her more. I love how she always assumes the best in people.What strikes me is that both Jane's way of responding to hurt--assuming the best in the other person, assuming that she was the only one that misread the situation--is as much a coping device as Elizabeth's response of feeling angry, looking to assign blame someone, spending hours thinking about it and trying to figure out why it happened:
"It was a subject, in short, on which reflection would be long indulged, and must be unavailing. She could think of nothing else; and yet, whether Bingley's regard had really died away, or were suppressed by his friends' interference; whether he had been aware of Jane's attachment, or whether it had escaped his observation; whichever were the case, though her opinion of him must be materially affected by the difference, her sister's situation remained the same, her peace equally wounded." (Ch. 24)
There is wisdom in both, I think. Sometimes it is unhealthy to bury our feelings and not acknowledge when we feel angry or hurt; on the other hand, dwelling on it can lead to bitterness, as Jane wisely points out:
"My dear Lizzy, do not give way to such feelings as these. They will ruin your happiness."
I am definitely inclined to react like Lizzy in similar situations. I get frustrated and angry, start to analyze the situation to figure out whose to blame. It gives me a kind of satisfaction, a way to deal with the feelings. On the other hand, my husband definitely has Jane tendencies. :-) He is quick to assume the best of others and is more likely to say that the problem was caused by him misunderstanding the situation. He also will be quick to tell me, "My dear Lynnelle, do not give way to such feelings as these. They will ruin your happiness."
And then when I logically and clearly argue that I am exactly right in my assessment of the situation...
"To oblige you, I would try to believe almost anything, but no one else could be benefited by such a belief as this; for were I persuaded that Charlotte had any regard for him, I should only think worse of her understanding than I now do of her heart. My dear Parke, Mr. Collins is a conceited, pompous, narrow-minded, silly man: you know he is, as well as I do; and you must feel, as well as I do, that the woman who marries him cannot have a proper way of thinking. You shall not defend her, though it is Charlotte Lucas. You shall not, for the sake of one individual, change the meaning of principle and integrity, nor endeavour to persuade yourself or me that selfishness is prudence, and insensibility of danger security for happiness."
He tells me,
"I must think your language too strong in speaking of both,...and I hope you will be convinced of it by seeing them happy together."
An then usually, we are better off just changing the topic of conversation: "but enough of this...."
Ha, so of course we've never had a conversation exactly like this! We don't typically quote long passages of Austen to each other. :-) But in a different context, with different words, these characters and situations really to play out in our lives. This is part of Jane Austen's genius and why so many of us love her novels. As she enthusiastically exclaims in Northanger Abbey,
"It is only a novel... or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language"
Anyway, back to Jane & Lizzy/ yin & yang. I love this line too:
Jane: Woman fancy admiration means more than it does.
Lizzy: And men take care that they should.
And this one...
but without scheming to do wrong, or to make others unhappy, there may be error, and there may be misery. Thoughtlessness, want of attention to other people's feelings, and want of resolution, will do the business.
That one really hits home for me in a serious way. I feel that I have probably hurt people, not because I intended to, but through "thoughtlessness" and lack of attention to their feelings. :(
There's a reason that an entire genre of relationship books based on Jane Austen exists--the "everything you need to know about love, you can learn from Jane Austen" category. :-)
Besides their reactions to hurt, Jane and Lizzy's experiences of love & courtship in this novel are a kind of yin and yang as well. That's all I'll say about that, so I don't get a head of myself. :) In the end, I think that we need both Janes & Lizzys in this world for balance and sanity. I really like the in-depth exploration of the close relationship between the two sisters.
I could comment on so much more....Mr. Collins proposal, Charlotte and her choices....but I will leave that for all of you to discuss. I'm looking forward to reading your comments. I apologize that I am slow to respond to your comments sometimes. I certainly do understand that life is busy. :) And please don't feel bad if you are not able to comment in the week that I post the discussion. Please feel free to go back and comment or discuss on any previous post.