Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice Elizabeth Bennet Quotes
On reaching the spacious lobby above they were shown into a very pretty sitting-room, lately fitted up with greater elegance and lightness than the apartments below; and were informed that it was but just done to give pleasure to Miss Darcy, who had taken a liking to the room when last at Pemberley.
"He is certainly a good brother," said Elizabeth, as she walked towards one of the windows. (3.1.43-44)
Here, Darcy's actions are finally doing some actual communicating. As Elizabeth thinks about the way he treats his sister —not what he says, but how he actually puts some effort into making her comfy in the big estate —she can see more of the man inside the stiff, socially awkward exterior.
"I certainly have not the talent which some people possess," said Darcy, "of conversing easily with those I have never seen before. I cannot catch their tone of conversation, or appear interested in their concerns, as I often see done."
"My fingers," said Elizabeth, "do not move over this instrument in the masterly manner which I see so many women's do. They have not the same force or rapidity, and do not produce the same expression. But then I have always supposed it to be my own fault—because I will not take the trouble of practising. It is not that I do not believe my fingers as capable as any other woman's of superior execution."
Darcy smiled and said, "You are perfectly right. You have employed your time much better. No one admitted to the privilege of hearing you can think anything wanting. We neither of us perform to strangers." (32.24-26)
Here is another one of these philosophical conundrums. How much effort should a person make to be pleasant to strangers? Shouldn't it just be enough (like Darcy thinks) to do lots of good things and not worry too much about outward appearances and being a polite human?
"Lydia will never be easy until she has exposed herself in some public place or other, and we can never expect her to do it with so little expense or inconvenience to her family as under the present circumstances."
"If you were aware," said Elizabeth, "of the very great disadvantage to us all which must arise from the public notice of Lydia's unguarded and imprudent manner—nay, which has already arisen from it, I am sure you would judge differently in the affair." (41.15-16)
Huh. So both Elizabeth and Mr. Bennet kind of know all along that Lydia's whole Brighton adventure is going to end in nothing but trouble. It's interesting that Mr. Bennet's approach to raising his daughter is one that is probably more often used for boys (since his theory is that Lydia needs to sow wild oats at some point in her teenage years). Elizabeth, on the other hand, has a little more perspective on the fact that, in their society, what would be water under the bridge for boys would mean social annihilation for girls.