Pride and Prejudice: Episode 6

“As a child, I was given good principles, but was left to follow them in pride and conceit. And such I might still have been, but for you. Dearest, loveliest Elizabeth.”

In which the ramifications of Lydia’s actions become clear, Bingley and Darcy return to town and our story comes to a very satisfactory conclusion.

Mr. and Mrs. Bennet are an interesting couple whose flaws become more than evident through the way they handle Lydia’s situation. Mrs. Bennet can only see that her daughter is to be married. The fact that so much money had to change hands or that her daughter has behaved so badly doesn’t register. Astonishingly, she can’t see how truly awful her new son-in-law is, only that she has one. Lydia is certainly her mother’s daughter. Unable to see what her life is really going to be like, she crows over her sisters that she is married; it doesn’t matter to whom.

Mr. Bennet, on the other hand, understands the situation but it doesn’t seem to change his life view in any way. He feels shame that he needed help to rescue his daughter, but as he says, “It will pass and, no doubt, more quickly than it should.” Here is a man who has been beaten down by his situation and appears to have no control over the household. No sooner does he make his pronouncement that Lydia and Wickham will never be invited to Longbourne than they turn up.

Likewise, Mr. Bennet gives his consent to Darcy before he speaks to Elizabeth about the engagement because he is unable to “refuse such a man.” He does, however, love Elizabeth and takes it upon himself to warn her off an unhappy marriage, the money be damned. It is to her father that Elizabeth finally admits how much she loves Darcy, a declaration that moves her father to tears.

Darcy has become a man truly worthy of Elizabeth’s love. By taking on the financial obligation to get Lydia married, he accepts his role in the elopement. Arguably, he takes too much on himself, but he does so without expectation of receiving anything for himself. The fact that Elizabeth discovers what he has done actually embarrasses him.

Even better, he comes clean with Bingley and admits that he orchestrated keeping Bingley and Jane apart. I’m afraid that Bingley is not shown in the greatest light during this exchange. He is obviously too easily manipulated by those around him and seeks approval where none is needed. He is, however, a lovely and kind man who is so pleased that the woman he loves returns his love, he forgives all instead of being justifiably furious with his best friend.

One of the great scenes in this entire series is Elizabeth squaring off with Lady Catherine who is rude from the moment she enters the drawing room. This is a woman who is accustomed to getting her own way in all things, especially when it comes to her family. Is it any surprise she surrounds herself with sycophants like Mr. Collins? Elizabeth, however, is not intimidated in the slightest and gives back as good as she gets. The language is brilliant. Never does Elizabeth admit that Darcy has already proposed or that she wishes he would do so again. She just keeps turning Lady Catherine’s words back on her.

Of course, the encounter is the catalyst that finally brings our two together. I adore the scene where Darcy and Elizabeth declare their love to one another. The two are so reserved, yet the emotions are not far below the surface. For the vast majority of their conversation, they can’t even look at each other. It’s almost as if they are both afraid that something they both want so much is at hand and they can’t quite believe it. As soon as Darcy calls her by name, however, all that falls away and they look into each others’ eyes with so much love, I always tear up. As they continue down the lane at the end of the scene, they keep brushing up against the other as if to reassure themselves that this has truly happened.

Like all good romances, we go out on the wedding. Brilliantly shot, one by one we revisit everyone who has played a part in the past six hours. The reactions range from happiness, to disappointment, to a frightening aspect of what the Wickham marriage has already become. In the final moments, we see how happy Jane and Bingley are and we see a kiss. And, what a kiss it is!

Historical Context:

Lydia is very young to be married at sixteen. Keeping in mind that young women were not in the company of men until they were out, fifteen or sixteen would be about as young as it were possible to be for someone of Lydia’s class.

The biggest sin that Lydia has committed is sleeping with Wickham before she marries him. Virginity in a bride was sacrosanct; more than one essay was written at the time warning woman not to give in to “just a promise.”

Mrs. Bennet manipulating the situation to leave Bingley and Jane alone, while hilarious, is telling. At this time, the proposal was often the first time that a couple was left alone.

Bits & Pieces:

Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle have yet to be beaten as the great Darcy/Elizabeth duo. When I read the book now, I picture them. This is not necessarily true of some of the other actors from this series.

The next time Firth and Ehle appeared together on screen was fifteen years later in a little film you may have seen called The King’s Speech. I went to see it in a packed cinema. At the moment that the King walks out of the back room and Myrtle sees him for the first time, a woman in the front of the cinema said, probably more loudly than she had intended, “Darcy and Elizabeth!” Everyone burst out laughing.

Darcy’s financial commitment to the Bennet family is extraordinary. Assuming that Wickham took the £10,000, that constitutes a full year of Darcy’s income.

Favorite Moments:

Elizabeth and Wickham’s conversation in the garden. Civil, bordering on friendly, Elizabeth makes it clear to her brother-in-law that she knows the truth.

Darcy stealing glances at Elizabeth the first time he and Bingley come to visit.

The sheer joy that Jane feels when Bingley proposes.

Lady Catherine chasing after Elizabeth and shouting at the end of their argument.

The final declaration and the kiss!

ChrisB is a freelance writer who spends more time than she ought in front of a television screen or with a book in her hand.


a.m. said...

I love the whole scene with Lady Catherine! I also like the confused reaction of Mrs. Bennet and the completely typical rudeness of Lady Catherine as she critiques their house and introduces herself. Plus, I'm so glad we get another moment to laugh/cringe at Mr. Collins through his letter. I always feel so much for Lizzie as her father is unknowingly torturing her with that letter, but the letter itself is priceless in its absurdity and true Collins-style.

Great review, ChrisB!

sunbunny said...

Yay! Elizabeth and Darcy 4EVA!! I've read the book and seen the various movie versions countless times but I get stressed at the end every single time. Will Darcy propose to Elizabeth again after being so harshly rejected? Has she learned to overcome her initial, negative feelings about the man she so clearly loves?

I didn't really pay much attention to him when I was younger, but in recent years I've to be more and more interested in Mr. Bennet. He is so observant of the flaws of others but seems to miss the important stuff: that his teasing about Bingley after he's left really hurts Jane, that Lydia is not just "silly" but woefully flirtatious, and that Elizabeth is in love with Darcy.

Great review, Chris! Virtual high five for finishing the miniseries! Go us!!

Billie Doux said...

While watching this finale, I have always thought, hey, a couple of years down the road, Lydia will be utterly miserable and not have a clue as to why she ended up that way. Elizabeth did the exact opposite, which was choose a man whose character had become an open book (or letter) to her.

I also really enjoy the scene with Lady Catherine. We keep wanting Elizabeth to throw the proposal in Lady Catherine's face but admire her for keeping it to herself. So clever and mature for someone only twenty years old.

Chris, thank you, and thanks to Sunbunny, for reviewing this wonderful miniseries. It's one of my favorites.

CrazyCris said...

One of my favourite moments in any version of this tale has always been the confrontation between Elisabeth and Lady Catherine! The way she stands to her... fabulous! And the fact that it directly leads to Darcy's second proposal, brilliant! :o)

I'm not 100% behind the Ehle/Firth as the perfect Lizzie/Darcy couple, but they are fabulous together! I've always thought it a pity her career didn't take off as brilliantly as his did...