Bulldozer stopped in her tracks
There is one bulldozer in Pride and Prejudice, one person who rides roughshod over everyone else and shows no awareness of anyone’s thoughts, feelings, opinions other than her own.
Lady C talks non-stop, and won’t allow any one else to have an opinion. She gives unwanted and unasked-for advice, and asks intrusive and personal questions.
Like many people who behave aggressively, she doesn’t know what to do when someone stands up to her. When Lady Catherine barges in to Longbourn to order Lizzie to back off from Darcy, she is astounded by Lizzie’s spirited response. Way to go, Elizabeth Bennet.
Pushover comes to shove
At the other end of the behavioural scale we have the pushover, the person who is too nice for her own good. Enter Jane Bennet. Jane is the type of girl who can’t say no and who wants to believe the best of everybody.
Jane is not only nice, she is dangerously naïve. She doesn’t see that Caroline Bingley is manoeuvring to keep Jane and Charles Bingley apart, and she can’t believe that Wickham is such a liar.
Most important, her tendency not to put herself forward almost scuppers her chances with Bingley, who is led to believe that she had no real interest in him.
Snake without a bite
She is a manipulative mean girl who thinks she can make herself look good in Darcy’s heart by slagging off Jane and Elizabeth Bennet.
She does that thing of seeming to praise, then undermining the compliment. So Jane is her new BFF, such a sweet girl – shame that she comes from such a rubbish family! With Elizabeth, she doesn’t even pretend.
As soon as Lizzie is out of the room, La Bingley is on a roll, pointing out Elizabeth’s lack of taste, good looks, manners, social graces. Caroline also uses flattery to worm her way in to Darcy’s affections.
Perhaps we don’t blame her too much for this. It might work on other people. She’s just not bright enough to see that Darcy is not fooled, and she carries on agreeing with everything he says and expressing admiration of everything about him – the way he reads his book, the way he writes a letter, the way he has a delightful sister…
At least she does really admire him. Usually, in order to further her own ends, a snake will shower you with insincere compliments and false flattery.
The star, of course, is Elizabeth. Not that she’s perfect – far from it – but being a star isn’t about being perfect.
She’s right about some things and wrong about a whole lot more. But in the course of the book she learns and changes. She can acknowledge her failings and move on, a better and stronger person.
We may not all be blessed with Elizabeth’s confidence, her wit and vivacity, her sharp mind and her eloquent tongue, but her story and its buoyantly happy ending can inspire us to be a little braver and a little more out there in our dealings with other people.
Your type? You’re a star, aren’t you?
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