Thursday, January 15, 2009
Elizabeth Bennet and her sister Jane in conversation
From Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice
I love this conversation between the Bennet sisters which reveals their closeness and fond regard for each other as well as Jane Austen's wonderful sense of humour! Jane Bennet is recently engaged to Mr Bingley and has only just become aware of the true duplicity of his sister, Caroline Bingley.
Elizabeth had now but little time for conversation with her sister; for while he was present, Jane had no attention to bestow on any one else; but she found herself considerably useful to both of them, in those hours of separation that must sometimes occur. In the absence of Jane, he always attached himself to Elizabeth for the pleasure of talking of her; and when Bingley was gone, Jane constantly sought the same means of relief.
"He has made me so happy," said she one evening, "by telling me, that he was totally ignorant of my being in town last spring! I had not believed it possible."
"I suspected as much," replied Elizabeth. "But how did he account for it?"
"It must have been his sister's doing. They were certainly no friends to his acquaintance with me, which I cannot wonder at, since he might have chosen so much more advantageously in many respects. But when they see, as I trust they will, that their brother is happy with me, they will learn to be contented, and we shall be on good terms again; though we can never be what we once were to each other."
"That is the most unforgiving speech," said Elizabeth, "that I ever heard you utter. Good girl! It would vex me, indeed, to see you again the dupe of Miss Bingley's pretended regard."
"Would you believe it, Lizzy, that when he went to town last November, he really loved me, and nothing but a persuasion of my being indifferent would have prevented his coming down again?"
"He made a little mistake, to be sure; but it is to the credit of his modesty."
This naturally introduced a panegyric from Jane on his diffidence, and the little value he put on his own good qualities.
Elizabeth was pleased to find that he had not betrayed the interference of his friend; for, though Jane had the most generous and forgiving heart in the world, she knew it was a circumstance which must prejudice her against him.
"I am certainly the most fortunate creature that ever existed!" cried Jane. "Oh! Lizzy, why am I thus singled from my family, and blessed above them all! If I could but see you as happy! If there were but such another man for you!"
"If you were to give me forty such men, I never could be so happy as you. Till I have your disposition, your goodness, I never can have your happiness. No, no, let me shift for myself; and perhaps, if I have very good luck, I may meet with another Mr. Collins in time."
I don't think Jane Austen could have written this without enjoying the very close relationship she had with her sister. Whenever I read Pride and Prejudice I think about my lovely sister who unfortunately lives quite far away, but visits whenever she can. We chat for hours on the phone, but I have to say I do miss those times we spent together as girls. I hope you are as lucky as I am to have such a close friend in a sibling.