Ehle Success? Yes, but… (Pride and Prejudice‘s Thesis)

Jennifer Ehle undertaking to enact Elizabeth Bennet when she gives Lady Catherine de Bourgh some “pushback:” (the first five minutes)

But Jane Austen wrote some dialogue which this BBC rendition does not include. And one set of sentences expresses Lizzy’s fire better than any of the lines they gave Jennifer Ehle to say here. The most important moment for the most important character of Pride and Prejudice. Elizabeth says to Lady Catherine,

Allow me to say, Lady Catherine, that the arguments with which you have supported this extraordinary application have been as frivolous as the application was ill-judged. You have widely mistaken my character, if you think I can be worked on by such persuasions as these.

ICYMI: Lady Catherine’s nephew had, in fact, proposed to Elizabeth–in the early springtime. Now it is fall. She rejected him adamantly at first, but has since learned to second-guess herself. He, too, has shown that he could learn something about his shortcomings and try to correct them–by acting in the interests of others.

In the spring, both Lizzy–whose has no money–and Darcy–who appears to have more money than anyone–acted willfully. Now, with time to reflect, experience contrition, and make amends, they see things differently. Their hearts have moved closer together because both have managed to accept the mortification of their vanity and pride.

Meanwhile, Lady Catherine, willful as ever, attempts to browbeat Elizabeth into disappearing altogether. IMHO, Elizabeth’s words (which Jennifer Ehle never got to say, alas!) reveal the great thesis of all of Jane Austen’s magnificent stories:

Genuine strength and determination proceed from the harmony of your will with one thing: reason. Good reasons convince, and when the heart listens to them, it grows both tamer and immeasurably stronger and more capable of love. On the other hand, emotional manipulations only insult everyone involved. Willfulness for its own sake serves no purpose. Determination based on reflection and reason: this makes heroes.

What hero could be more altogether admirable and lovable than Miss Elizabeth Bennet of Herefordshire?

Also, ICYMI: This weblog dedicated to a) God’s Word and b) all things Jennifer Ehle.

One thought on “Ehle Success? Yes, but… (Pride and Prejudice‘s Thesis)

  1. Father Mark,

    How about the girl who tells the Aunt, “Bug off!” (or succinct, but socially acceptable words of that import)? And, no, I didn’t read the book, nor see the movie.

    In God we trust.



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