Like the individual and society, Life too has what may be called a character of its own. Life can be described in terms of the characteristic ways in which events occur, repeat, reverse, and the factors that determine the results and consequences of human action. We often precieve and label the characteristic actions of life with terms such as chance, luck, fate or destiny.
Although science is still in search of a universally acceptable conception and definition of life, we normally think of life as an individual spark that animates our bodies with sensation, capacity for movement and consciousness. In this view the life of each individual is separate and distinct from the life of every other living being. In The Life Divine, Sri Aurobindo defines life in very different terms. He views life as a universal force. The universe consists of forms and forces. These forms includes material forms we call matter, forms of life energy such as sensation, feeling, and emotion, mental forms such as thoughts, opinions, ideas, beliefs, values, and images. All forms in the universe are forms of a single universal force that successively and perpetually creates, upholds, grows and destroys these physical, vital and mentalforms. Life expresses in and through individual living beings as well as what we regard as inanimate material objects and forces. In its origin and essence, that force is conscious and unitary, though it manifests as a thing impersonal, unconscious and divided into millions of separate forces and forms. The individual experiences the universal life force as an independent existence within his own body, but the sense of separation and independence is an illusion of the ego. The life within and outside us is one and unified. All that occurs external to the individual has its expression and representation within the individual as well.
Life is governed by subtle laws and principles of action and reaction that characterize the interaction between the thoughts, feelings and acts of the individual, society and universal nature.
One of the most obvious and striking expressions of the character of life in the story is the web of interrelations that initially and repeatedly brings the major actors together through a variety of circumstances that culminate in the four marriages. This web has its roots in circumstances and events that occurred many years before the beginning of the story and yet play a vital role in determining its outcome. Although such circumstances are often dismissed by critics and readers as literary device, a close observation of life will reveal that similar conditions commonly serve as an essential and inessential foundation for important outcomes in real life as well. Life has woven a complex conspiracy of relationship between Darcy and Eliza unbeknown to either of them.
Every story depicts instances in which individuals take major and minor initiatives. Sometimes these initiatives are critical determinants of the success or failure of major outcomes. Other times these conscious actions of individuals fail to have major impact and the most important results can be traced to ‘initiatives of life’, which the characters in the story view as chance events. In this section, we examine principles governing the success of human initiatives as illustrated in the story. Mr. Gardiner and Mr. Bennet are compelled by their sense of responsibility to Lydia and the reputation of the family to take all possible steps to save Lydia and the family from disgrace after her elopement with Wickham. Although their individual actions do not directly generate the intended results, ultimately that intention is fulfilled by Darcy’s independent initiative, of which they had no knowledge until it was almost complete. The social atmosphere for marriage is positive; therefore, these initiatives are supported by ‘life’. Collins proposal to Eliza is a characteristic instance of an initiative by one who lacks the basic qualifying capacity for accomplishment, yet acts out of ignorance and self-conceit.
Wickham’s attempted elopement with Georgiana fails because he tried to reach by ruse a level in society for which he lacked either the external qualifications or the inner strength of personality. Darcy’s family is too high in cultural endowment to be penetrated by ruse. That is why Darcy arrives in time and Georgiana frankly acknowledges to him their intended elopement on her own initiative. In fact, all Wickham’s initiatives fail. His effort to marry Mary King breaks down before he can consummate the marriage. His effort to elope with Lydia merely for physical enjoyment gets converted into matrimony. In spite of his association with Lady Catherine, Collins lacks the social status to recommend himself for introduction to Darcy at Netherfield; therefore Darcy spurns his attempt.
Lady Catherine can successfully exert her authority over Mr. Collins’ choice of wife and over every detail of the furnishings of the parsonage. She will not have equal success when she applies the same force to deal with Darcy, of whom she wishes the ultimate boon of marriage to her sickly daughter, or with Elizabeth, who does not depend on her patronage or respect her haughty presumptions of superior breeding.
Darcy exerts a very strong influence over his friend Bingley arising from his superior social status and his more developed mind and character. However, in his interference with Bingley’s marriage to Jane, Darcy’s influence cannot ultimately succeed, because Darcy himself is subject to the same attraction and feels compelled to make an even greater social compromise by marrying Eliza. Darcy’s objections to Bingley’s marriage are also in direct conflict with the evolutionary direction of the society, the direction Darcy himself feels drawn to move in. Having no control over his own feelings, he cannot for long constrain Bingley’s.
Elizabeth longs to bring the speech and behavior of Lydia and her mother under control. She is later horrified to discover the same tendencies in her own thought and speech. She is powerless to control in others what she has not fully mastered in herself. Eliza is powerless to persuade her father to stop Lydia from going to Brighton, which leads to her elopement with Wickham, because Eliza herself is still unable to master her own attraction to Wickham and is unwilling to expose him to her family.
Mr. Bennet is unable to control either his wife’s or youngest daughter’s behavior. Having been unable to resist marrying Mrs. Bennet for her beauty and unable to control her once married, he lacks the power to control Lydia, who most takes after her mother. Caroline’s efforts to influence Darcy’s opinion of Elizabeth fail because she is stationed at a lower level of the social hierarchy than Darcy. It is the higher station that sets the standards for what is or is not acceptable or fashionable. Caroline’s criticism of Darcy’s taste in feminine beauty only leads him to contradict her own opinion in a manner that reinforces the supremacy of his views.
Caroline herself responds in similar fashion to Sir Lucas’ offer to introduce her and her sister at St. James Court. Lucas attempts to elevate his position by the offer. Caroline is only aware of his assertion of equal or superior station in life, which she must reject to defend her own superior status based on wealth. Lady Catherine’s advice to Collins in all matters relating to marriage and housekeeping is welcomed by him as a manifestation of grace, accepted and carried out with gusto. When she sends him on a mission to find a wife and Eliza refuses his proposal, he readily redirects his attentions to a more willing subject, Charlotte, and returns to Rosings victorious.
Lydia is able to descend effortlessly to a lower level by eloping with Wickham, whereas all Wickham’s efforts to rise meet with great resistance. Although he is fully eligible in terms of status and future wealth, Collins’ proposal to Eliza meets with unexpected resistance. His wealth is only a future potential while hers is a present possession. Her breeding and quality of mind separate them by a great distance within the same plane. When Collins proposes to Charlotte, here too it is a movement within the same plane, but to one at a lower level. Lacking either wealth or beauty, Charlotte readily accepts what Eliza readily rejected. Lady Catherine’s efforts to marry her daughter Anne to Darcy meet with resistance and ultimately fail, even though they are very much within the same social plane. Her social position, authority and family relationship fully qualify Anne for the marriage, but Anne’s weak constitution and personal insufficiencies present a drawback that Darcy is unwilling to overlook. The social will is seeking to reinvigorate the aristocracy and that movement takes precedence over Anne’s personal connections. Lady Catherine seeks to capitalize on the mutual pledge of her sister and herself that their children should marry, a practice whose value is passing out of existence. The light in Eliza’s eyes is enough to overcome the best-laid plans of the older generation to perpetuate itself in the old style. Had Lady Catherine sought a suitor for Anne from a lower plane, she would have met with ready success.
Not only does Darcy have to reverse that act. He has to match Lydia with Wickham as well. Darcy’s effort to get Lydia and Wickham married is a reversal both of his earlier interference with Bingley’s marriage to Jane and of his professed negative attitudes about Eliza’s family. His willingness to undertake this ‘mortifying’ task shows a great strength of determination and releases a great intensity of energy for accomplishment. He possesses the energy, the money and the social authority to accomplish it. Eliza has to initiate the conversations with Darcy when they dance at Netherfield ball. It is also Eliza who is forced to break the formality and revive their personal relationship when Darcy returns to Longbourn. Her wanting Darcy to take the initiative to speak first does not work. Because she is at the receiving end of the relationship, the initiative has to come from her in order for it to be successful.
When Darcy and Georgiana extend an invitation to Elizabeth and the Gardiners to dine at Pemberley, Elizabeth turns her head away and is unable to reply. Mrs. Gardiner accepts on behalf of their party. The dinner is cancelled by news of Lydia’s elopement. Elizabeth’s failure to respond represents the difficulty she encounters responding to the initiative of a higher level of life, which she experiences consciously as embarrassment. The most striking instances of unsuccessful initiatives in the story are those of Mrs. Bennet. All initiative in the family arises from her. All her initiatives lead to failure or postponement of positive results. The marriage of three daughters is a direct response to her intense aspiration and energy, but it is achieved in spite of her initiatives rather than because of them. Mrs. Bennet thinks of herself as the prime mover that presides over all successes, priding herself on methods that are, in fact, counterproductive and offensive to any accomplishment.
She is unaware how her behavior cancelled Jane’s opportunity with Bingley. Mr. Bennet’s initial visit to Netherfield on her suggestion leads to naught when Bingley and company desert Netherfield for the winter. Her first invitation to Bingley for dinner is cancelled when he goes to London to bring his friends. She resorts to the ploy of sending Jane to Netherfield on horseback in the hope that rain forces Jane to remain there for the night. It does rain; Jane falls ill and has to remain there for a week. But Jane’s presence brings Elizabeth into close contact with Darcy, who discovers the intensity of his attraction for Elizabeth and looks for a way to escape from temptation. Getting Bingley away from Jane becomes a good excuse for getting himself away from Eliza. The social atmosphere surrounding Jane’s marriage to Bingley is negative at this point. His sisters are critical. Darcy openly disapproves. Mrs. Bennet’s ploy, as well as her open discussion about the prospects of the couple at the Netherfield ball, only serve to alert the opposition and cancel the possibility. The result of a ploy in a negative atmosphere is to cancel opportunity. It is not difficult to understand why Mrs. Bennet’s two dinner invitations to Bingley are not fulfilled, but why does the same thing happen to Darcy and Georgiana when they extend an invitation to Eliza and the Gardiners to dine at Pemberley? If Darcy represents the higher plane bending to embrace the lower, the social gradient is no obstacle. We can understand that his initiative of proposing to Eliza at Hunsford was unsuccessful because of the internal conflict which divided his energies and the crude manner of his proposal. But apparently that conflict has been resolved, at least to a significant extent, by this time. What obstacle remains?
From Darcy’s point of view, it is true that he has extended a gracious welcome to the Gardiners at Pemberley. Contrary to his earlier prejudice, he finds them far more genteel and respectable than he might have imagined. In fact, they represent the highest point in social attainments within Eliza’s family. Though Mr. Gardiner may lack Mr. Bennet’s aristocratic lineage, he has substantial wealth and sophisticated urban manners. By accepting the Gardiners, Darcy has embraced only the best and highest of Eliza’s family, not the worst and lowest. For that he must still save Lydia from disgrace.
Furthermore, Darcy has yet to reverse his initiative in separating Bingley and Jane. Bingley is among the guests who call on Eliza at Lambton. Caroline is present when Eliza and Mrs. Gardiner return the courtesy by visiting Pemberley the following day. Seeing Eliza and also seeing the very warm attention which Darcy pays to her cannot fail to remind Bingley of Jane and Darcy’s interference. His emotions could not possibly sanction Darcy’s attentions to Eliza, anymore than Caroline’s can, so long as he is estranged from Jane. Therefore, Darcy’s dinner invitation to Eliza must fail, just as two of Mrs. Bennet’s dinner invitations to Bingley failed.
Furthermore, from Eliza’s point of view, the meeting at Lambton and the following day at Pemberley generate tension and discomfort in her due to the elevated status in which she finds herself, not as a mere guest as at Rosings, but with real prospects of permanent ascension. Her response to Darcy’s invitation by turning her head away, leaving Mrs. Gardiner to answer, reflects her inner condition. The cool, uncomfortable atmosphere of the meeting with the ladies at Pemberley the following day shows that conditions are not yet prepared for accomplishment. Her elopement leads to marriage and brings luck to the family. Why? Lydia has fresh energy – free expression of energy brings luck. She is bold and courageous and adventurous—requirements for great success. She is not constrained by social opinion. She rejects the confining limits of society, which is essential for luck to express. It can be done positively or negatively. She does it negatively, but it still has power.
When Mrs. Bennet issues the two invitations, the atmosphere is negative, because relationship between the families is seriously opposed by Caroline and Darcy. Bingley is unable to accept either invitation, despite his positive predisposition. In any case, Mrs. Bennet lacks the strength and status to successfully promote a relationship between Jane and Bingley on her own initiative, because he is above her in status. Her prodding ways have the opposite effect. Caroline lacked strength to effectively influence Darcy in this context. By her efforts to discredit Eliza in Darcy’s eyes, Caroline inadvertently plays the foil that advances Eliza’s cause at each stage by contrasting Eliza’s conduct with her own shallow, dishonest behavior and overt meanness. Because Caroline is weak, her effort to embarrass and taunt Darcy about his attraction to Eliza fails. The words she foolishly speaks -- “when am I to wish you joy?” -- become prophetically true. Had she been of Darcy’s social level or exceedingly beautiful, she may have succeeded.
Sir Lucas interrupted Darcy and Eliza at Netherfield ball with information about the romantic prospects of Jane and Bingley, leading to the breakup of their romance by Darcy. Later Darcy writes to Eliza at Rosings, “I was made acquainted by Sir Lucas’s accidental information.” It is significant that Lucas must be the instrument for the breakup in view of the fact that Charlotte is trying the other way. Honest endeavors by ill-qualified people always have the opposite result. Caroline’s liking for Jane is a force. It acts, but not in the direction she intends. She likes Jane and wants her company. But she does not expect to see Jane married to her brother. Even when she invites Jane to Netherfield, it is only when Bingley and Darcy are away dining with the officers. But her own liking for Jane promotes Jane’s relationship with their brother, which she does not desire. Her desire to separate Jane from Bingley is a force and it too acts surely. By that force, Caroline is separated from Darcy. A force released acts, like the money given by an indulgent father to his son, but it is not in the father’s capacity to determine the use of that money. Lady Catherine tries to exercise her personal strength and social position to dominate in a situation where her position is weak. Her personal boorish strength only brings out the strength in Eliza. Her social status has no impact on Eliza’s formed character. Her weak position is reflected by the fact that she has to go to Longbourn to meet Eliza, rather than summoning Eliza to come to her. By her initiative, Lady Catherine is directly responsible for bringing Eliza and Darcy back together. In recognition of her unintended contribution to their marriage, Eliza takes initiative to reconcile with her after marriage.
Each act is the expression of a force that tends to repeat itself. The greater the intensity of the force and the more times it repeats, the greater its capacity for further repetition. The quality and intensity of the force express in each subsequent repetition of the act. The very fact that the seeds of four marriages are being sown at the same time is an act of repetition.
When Mrs. Bennet first asks Mr. Bennet to call on Bingley, Bennet protests and apparently refuses, but the next day he goes in deference to her request. When Bingley becomes interested in Jane, his sisters and Darcy protest, though ultimately they all accept Jane as his wife. Bennet’s initial protest is mirrored by their own. The vibration of protest continues and ripples through the story. His initial reaction is a portent of the reactions that come later.
Bingley brings Darcy to Herefordshire and is the first to call Darcy’s attention to Eliza, when he suggests Darcy ask her to dance at the Meryton ball. Later it is Bingley who brings Darcy back to Herefordshire and to Longbourn, at which time Darcy proposes to Eliza.
Darcy’s initial refusal to dance with Eliza at the Meryton dance repeats as Eliza’s initial refusal to dance with Darcy when he asks her during her stay at Netherfield Hall. Darcy first reacts to Bingley’s suggestion and then reverses his reaction by asking Eliza to dance at Netherfield. At this point, Eliza is still reacting to Darcy’s initial behavior—first by refusing his dance offer, later by refusing his marriage proposal! Life has to wait until she too plays out the reaction and reversal. Both respond negatively to the first approach of greater opportunity, so life or karma has to take its course.
Eliza teases Darcy during their dance at Netherfield ball. The rest of the evening she is ‘teased’ by Collins who clings to her. The teasing repeats.
Collins takes for granted Eliza will accept his marriage proposal, just as Darcy does when he proposes to her later. The false presumption repeats.
Darcy and Eliza meet by surprise at Hunsford and then meet again by surprise at Pemberley. They are brought together repeatedly by the initiative of life, rather than by their own initiative. The chance encounter repeats.
Darcy’s problem of elopement (Wickham’s elopement with Georgiana) comes to Eliza (Wickham’s elopement with Lydia). Darcy arrives at the inn in Lambton at the same moment as the letter from Jane, so Eliza feels compelled to confide in him and he has the opportunity to solve a problem for her family that originated in his family. Elopement and confiding both repeat.
Wickham’s elopement with Lydia is a continuation and fulfillment of the movement of his failed attempt to elope with Georgiana. In the first case, Darcy arrived by change two days early. In this case, Darcy arrives to convert it into a marriage.
The quarrel of Collins’ father with Bennet’s father repeats in Eliza’s ‘quarrel’ with Collins when she refuses his proposal and he abruptly departs from Longbourn. The quarrel repeats.
Collins returns to Longbourn for a second time after proposing to Charlotte, rather than staying with the Lucases. He later has to receive Eliza at the parsonage where Darcy proposes to Eliza.
Collins feels abused by Eliza’s refusal of his marriage proposal. By informing Lady Catherine of Darcy’s proposed engagement to Eliza, Collins becomes an instrument for Lady Catherine’s visit and abuse to Eliza about Darcy’s marriage proposal. Eliza meant no ill will by refusing Collins. As a result, Collins gets a better match in Charlotte. Eliza comes to no harm from Lady Catherine’s abuse. It brings Darcy to propose. Abuse leading to positive results repeats.
Impossible! – Eliza’s response to Charlotte’s engagement repeats as Jane’s response to Eliza’s engagement.
On the return trip of Eliza, Jane and Maria from London to Herefordshire, Lydia wants to treat her sisters to lunch but makes them pay. They will continue to pay for her the rest of her life.
As each act is a force, it has a tendency to repeat. However, when the force of the act is insufficient for repetition or meets an obstacle that prevents it from accomplishing in a particular direction, the energy of the act may reverse course and express in a direction opposite to the original act.
Darcy spurns the opportunity to dance with Eliza, and then Eliza spurns his first request to dance and his first marriage proposal. Eliza’s rejection is a repetition of Darcy’s rejection of Eliza; but it is also a reversal, in the sense that it moves in the opposite direction. Darcy’s refusal comes back on him.
Eliza spurns the opportunity to dance with Darcy, which is a prelude to his later marriage proposal. The immediate result is that she gets a marriage proposal from Collins. Her rejection of Darcy leads to a proposal from Collins, which she also rejects. Her rejection comes back to her in the form of another proposal.
Eliza facetiously asks Collins whether it would be appropriate for him to attend the Netherfield ball. Her intention is to discourage him from attending. He responds by asking her for the first two dances, which she had hoped to reserve for Wickham. “Her liveliness had never been worse timed.” Her clever comment is insufficient to discourage Collins who sees the dance as an opportunity to promote his courtship with her, so it provides him with an unexpected opening to further his plan. Her cleverness backfires.
Darcy, who wants to violate social norms by marrying Eliza, is forced to reverse his interference with Bingley and Jane’s marriage and to actively foster Lydia’s marriage with Wickham. He has to reverse his attitude to interclass marriages by others before he can marry Eliza.
In her self-righteous anger at Darcy, Eliza asserts false family pride. She later is forced to reverse it by acquiring a sense of humility with regard to the disgraceful behavior of her family.
Caroline tries to separate Jane and Bingley by encouraging his sudden departure from Netherfield and by concealing from him Jane’s presence in London. Later she has to reverse her opposition and graciously accept Jane as a sister-in-law. She is also trying to put down Elizabeth at every opportunity. But after her marriage to Darcy, she has to drop all her resentment in order to be welcome at Pemberley.
At Netherfield ball Elizabeth rejoiced in the idea that her mentioning Wickham to Darcy will discourage Darcy from further contact with her. Later she feels mortified for having revealed to Darcy information about Lydia’s elopement with Wickham, for fear that it will permanently keep Darcy away. Her rejoicing reverses as regret.
Mrs. Bennet takes pleasure in triumphing over Lady Lucas with the prospect of Jane’s early marriage to Bingley. When Collins proposes to Charlotte, Lady Lucas called often at Longbourn in triumph to take revenge on Mrs. Bennet. The sense of triumphing reverses direction.
Darcy conceals Jane’s presence in London from Bingley. At Rosings Fitzwilliam unintentionally reveals to Eliza Darcy’s interference between Jane and Bingley. The original act of intentional concealment gets reversed as an act of unintentional disclosure.
Those who assert a superiority over others are forced by life to reverse their assertion and chase after those they asserted against or submit to those above them in the same way that they try to dominate those below them.
Darcy, who strutted around the ballroom conscious of his status, had to shed his pride and confess his inferiority of behavior before winning Eliza. Her character was more powerful than his status.
Caroline Bingley asserts by her superior dress and haughty behavior. She is humiliated by Darcy’s neglect and his preference for Eliza.
Acts and events that occur at the same time are related at the level of life, no matter how unconnected they appear on the surface. The relation sometimes reveals later on as a physical connection between people or events. Often it represents a psychological parallel between the thoughts or attitudes of different people that only reveals to a careful observation. But regardless of appearances, simultaneous events are always related. Collins and Wickham are instruments for Darcy and Eliza to come together. Wickham has a previous relationship with Darcy. Collins has links to Lady Catherine. Collins and Wickham are complementary characters. Collins feels excessively humble and imagines himself elevated beyond his actual position. Wickham feels excessively humiliated by life and robbed of his rightful position. Both are shameless. Jane, Eliza, Lydia and Collins meet Wickham, Bingley and Darcy at Meryton. These are seven of the eight people who are to later get married. Wickham and Collins have links with Darcy and his family. Mrs.Gardiner has lived in Derbyshire. Elizabeth’s friend Charlotte goes to live near Rosings. Charlotte arrives at Longbourn just after Eliza has rejected Collins proposal, leading Collins to propose to Charlotte three days later.
The perfect timing of Charlotte’s arrival reflects the intensity of Collins’ desire for a wife and hers for a husband, as well as the intimate bond of friendship and goodwill between Eliza and Charlotte. It is highly significant that Caroline’s letter comes at the moment Wickham comes to their house. Wickham represents a disruptive vibration that destroys marriages. The moment Eliza moves closer to him, Bingley and Darcy move away. When Wickham later moves away in pursuit of Mary King, seeds are planted for the future meeting of Eliza and Darcy at Pemberley. If Eliza had been a conscious observer, she could have noted that her every thought of Wickham is reflected by marriage prospects moving away from her family. Darcy wants to marry Eliza but wants to distance himself from all other relations with the family, including a possible marriage of Jane and his friend Bingley. But Eliza’s closest relationship is with Jane and all her thoughts are focused on Jane’s disappointed marriage to Bingley. When Darcy thinks of proposing to Eliza, she is only thinking of her sister’s disappointed for which she now believes Darcy is responsible. Therefore, his visits coincide with her correspondence with Jane. Darcy’s proposal coming at the moment of her most intense hatred is symbolic of the two social layers meeting, not by their conscious choice, but compelled by subconscious social forces. Darcy is indirectly responsible for Lydia’s elopement. Therefore, he comes just when the news arrives. His arrival brings the remedy, so the remedy comes along with the problem. In fact, the remedy is related to the problem. Darcy possesses the full power to solve the problem and the willingness, yet at the time Eliza is unaware of her capacity to determine the outcome by accepting his help.
Darcy did have a motive for separating Bingley and Jane, because he wished to make Bingley his brother-in-law by marrying Georgiana. Bingley becomes his brother-in-law through Jane and Eliza! Wickham’s intention to become Darcy’s brother-in-law by eloping with Georgiana is fulfilled when he marries Lydia and Darcy marries Eliza. What accomplishes is the spiritual power of Wickham’s beauty and the manners derived from his upbringing at Pemberley.
Collins, whose highest aspiration in life was close association with Lady Catherine de Bourgh, actually becomes the lady’s distant relative through the marriage of his cousin Elizabeth to the lady’s nephew Darcy
When the social forces are pressing in a particular direction or the subconscious force of individual aspirations is well formed, life brings about circumstances and events that appear to the superficial view as remarkable coincidences, luck or chance events. A powerful subconscious urge of the society to bring the two classes closer together expresses in the lives of two people who are receptive to that vibration. This enabled them to renew a relationship that both subconsciously sought but neither could consciously pursue after their previous confrontation. The housekeeper’s remarks answer a powerful subconscious urge in Eliza for confirmation of what Darcy had written to her.
Life moves at different speeds. Some initiatives accomplish or evoke a response from life after a prolonged period. Others bring almost instantaneous results. After reading Darcy’s letter at Hunsford, much or most of Eliza’s objections to his attentions fell away. Yet, it takes more than six months before life again brings them back together time at Pemberley. But when Elizabeth visits Pemberley and thrills in its glory, Darcy arrives within ten minutes, a full day before his scheduled return. What makes the difference?
After reading Darcy’s letter at Hunsford, Eliza’s dislike and resentment against him were removed, but what she felt was at best a mental attraction to him, a respect for his character and a gratitude for his affection. Therefore, it took six months before life again brought them back together. Until her visit to Pemberley, Eliza was unable to experience the reality of Darcy’s offer of marriage in any tangible manner. But the act of physically setting foot on the property and in the house brought home to her physical being the reality of what had been offered to her and released a strong subconscious urge. Because that urge was released in the physical by her physical experience, Darcy arrived almost instantaneously.
The attraction to face and form of the opposite sex is inherent in human nature. It serves the fundamental biological purpose of ensuring propagation of the species. There is a biological attraction of children for the parent of the opposite sex that is transferred to the spouse at the time of marriage. It is so powerful and basic that it can occur between people of any age. The attraction between the sexes can be biological, vital, emotional and mental. The emotional and mental components depend to a large extent on conscious aspects of the personality, such as education, interests, social background, etc. The physical and vital components are subconscious and not subject to rational criteria or control. The attraction between man and woman is a powerful force for overcoming social barriers in both directions.
Elizabeth’s attraction to Wickham is physical or biological. Because it is rooted in the subconscious physical, it is nearly irresistible and almost impossible to remove by conscious effort, even when the mind is disillusioned or the emotions are deeply offended. Therefore, even after she learns that he is an unscrupulous scoundrel, she is able to be angry, ashamed and disgusted with herself but she is unable to feel anger or disgust toward Wickham as a person.
When Eliza learns that Wickham has turned his attentions to Miss King, who had recently inherited ₤10,000, she is ready to fully justify his actions. “Elizabeth, less clear-sighted in his case than in Charlotte’s does not find this mercenary behavior objectionable in Wickham. “Young men must have something to live on.” Elizabeth never felt that Charlotte must have something to live on. She could never appreciate Darcy’s legitimate aversion to her family. The fact is that Wickham is attractive to her. She talks the language of an adoring heart. After reading Darcy’s account of Wickham in his letter, Elizabeth wishes to discredit it entirely. Darcy’s admission of his interference in Jane’s relationship with Bingley doesn’t give her so much pain as this news about Wickham. She repeats that it must be false, and puts away the letter hastily, deciding to never look at it again. She tries to recollect some instance of goodness or trait of integrity or benevolence in Wickham that might defend him from Darcy’s accusations. When she realizes that there aren’t any, and his general appearance and manners blinded everybody, she admits that Darcy must be true. But even then, she feels neither anger nor dislike towards Wickham.
When Elizabeth becomes conscious of what Wickham really is, she first rejects him mentally. Her surface mind loses interest in him, but subconsciously the attraction remains very powerful. After reading Darcy’s letter, she is even able to see through some of his affectations for the first time. But she is unable to bring herself to expose him publicly, unable even to express anger at him in her private conversations with Jane, because her lower emotions toward him remain intact.
After Wickham’s elopement and marriage with Lydia, Eliza’s emotions for him subside and she is able to politely hint to him of his duplicity, but she remains incapable of either feeling or expressing strong negative emotion for the man who nearly brought the entire family to ruin. She reproaches herself for having kept the secret about Wickham’s character. She calls Lydia thoughtless. But she doesn’t speak a word about Wickham himself. Even when she is reading Mrs. Gardiner’s letter about Darcy’s role in Lydia’s marriage, at a time when her mind must be overwhelmed by gratitude for Darcy who has helped the man who came close to ruining his own family, she doesn’t mind being interrupted by Wickham. She talks to him amiably and says they are brother and sister now. Her vital liking is unconditional. The vital is not capable of condemning what it likes. She extends her hand to be kissed. She walks quickly away from him because she is trying to suppress her vital agitation in his presence.
In fact, not a single word of condemnation toward Wickham is expressed by any woman in the story. Mrs. Bennet’s only complaint is that he does not intend to marry her daughter. Once they do marry, she is perfectly satisfied with her son-in-law.
Elizabeth’s behavior is not unique or even unusual. It is the natural expression of a strong physical attraction that is not subject to conscious discrimination. It can be suppressed and its expression can be controlled, but it is extremely difficult to eradicate. A man like Wickham can never marry Eliza. His character is too false, hers is too true. Darcy and Bingley arrive in Meryton at the moment Eliza meets Wickham for the first time. Ultimately their intervention disillusions Eliza about Wickham.
Eliza is attracted to Wickham’s false and handsome appearances. She continues to be attracted even after she learns of his true nature. Because of her continued attraction, Wickham wreaks havoc for her and the whole family. It leads to Lydia’s fall, Darcy’s stooping and Eliza’s social ascent.
Even after his marriage, Eliza has to support him through periodical payments to Lydia from her savings. That is an expression of her continued attraction to Wickham at the physical level.
Expectation has the power to postpone or cancel the thing that is expected. Expectation is a form of mental desire that lacks the strength to accomplish by its own force. When the expectation disappears, an impediment is removed and often the object of expectation then arrives. When Mrs. Bennet and Jane give up on Bingley, he returns and proposes. When Eliza gives up on Darcy, he returns.
Life is a plane of force, and each act expresses a force. Each force wants to continue and perpetuate itself. Speech is an act. It has a force. That force accomplishes something. Speech generates a force or power for accomplishment. Repeatedly we see in the story that spoken words are fulfilled, often in unexpected ways. This often occurs when the spoken word reflects a subconscious awareness in the speaker of a situation that is ripe to precipitate. Bringing the situation to conscious self-expression acts as an additional impetus, thereby precipitating action. The magnitude and direction of the consequence depends on the strength of the person, the person’s motive, the context in which it is spoken, and the preparedness of the atmosphere. In any case, speaking is an act that puts forth energy and that energy invariably has a result at the level of thought, word or act. The result may be opposite or unrelated to the intention of the person who speaks.
In some instances the speaker possesses a subconscious knowledge of what is likely to occur and unintentionally gives expression to it, thereby adding impetus to its occurrence. Eliza replies to Mr. Bennet: “Thank you Sir, but a less agreeable man would satisfy me.” She subconsciously feels that Wickham is physically and vitally the most attractive, charming and agreeable person she could possible find, but that she may have to be satisfied with someone less attractive but otherwise more appropriate. That too comes true. She settles for Darcy, for whom she never felt the intense infatuation she felt for Wickham. At the level at which Wickham is agreeable to her, he is the most agreeable man, and Darcy is definitely less agreeable.
Words have a power. It does not mean that the whole sequence of causality is explained by one statement, but these examples illustrate what the observant can see time and again in life. Words have a power to fulfill themselves, even if not in the way they were intended.
Speech can be a negative force that acts in life, though not necessarily in the direction or manner intended by the speaker.
Speech can be a premature act that dissipates energy and cancels or postpones results.
If we say an act carries a force, and speaking expresses an energy or a force, the refusal to speak restrains the energy or force. It is an act that builds up the energy and increases its power and force for accomplishment. When a person speaks, the result of the words depends on the force of the person’s speech and personality. Sometimes it requires more strength to remain silent that to speak. Remaining silent is also an act, as much as speaking is. It is an act of refusing to express one’s thoughts. When those thoughts form into a strong mental will or determination that is not expressed, the unexpressed thoughts, silent will, acquire a great power for effectuation. The effort of restraint conserves the energy of speaking and charges the thought with it, so that it acquires a greater power for achievement because it has not been expressed. What Darcy insists on silence, Lydia accidently discloses his role. Had he spoke or encouraged it to be known, his act would have be vitiated by ulterior motives. Having kept silent, his act is pure and ennobled. When Charlotte meets Collins after Eliza has refused his marriage proposal, she strongly feels that this is the right man for her. She wants Collins. She does not say anything wrong to cancel it. She does not take any initiative that cancels it. She accepts what comes to her in life quietly and it fulfils itself in a remarkably brief time. It took Darcy about nine months to win Elizabeth. It took Charlotte three days and a morning walk to win Collins. Jane’s absolute refusal to think or speak negatively expresses the power of positive thinking. Jane has a milksop, Pollyanna positive attitude. She does not have energy, intensity or strength of personality. But her positive attitude still has power. She had the capacity not to think negatively of anyone. That capacity supported a positive resolution of all the family’s problems.
Jane clung to the hope that Lydia and Wickham would marry, which they did. She never thought as badly of Darcy as Eliza had, insisting that there must be some justification from his side, which there was. When Wickham talks badly of Darcy, Jane refuses to think badly of Darcy and he ends up marrying Elizabeth. When Darcy exposes Wickham, Jane refuses to think Wickham totally bad, and Wickham ends up marrying Lydia. When Miss Bingley writes those mean things about Bingley marrying Georgiana, Jane refuses to think badly of Caroline, and Caroline becomes her sister-in-law. When Bingley suddenly departs from Netherfield and never calls on Jane in London, she refuses to think badly of him for going away. She gets Bingley back.
It may not be true to say that her attitude by itself had the power to accomplish any of those things. But she qualified herself for all of those accomplishments at her level, at least to the extent of not generating energy in the opposite direction as so many others have done by their words and acts. Jane does not have energy or strength of personality beyond that. Whereas her mother takes initiative to cancel things, Jane is very careful not to cancel anything that is coming towards anybody related to her. She refuses to be an instrument for canceling. Elizabeth, Darcy, Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, Mrs. Gardiner and Sir Lucas all take negative initiatives. Charlotte and Jane never do. Jane remains positive and waits for life. She waits for Bingley to come back to her. While his wife constantly dissipates her energy in accusations and complaints, Mr. Bennet quietly endures Lydia’s elopement without reproaching anyone and strives to resolves the problem. Lydia, Eliza and Jane all get married.
Lady Catherine has an instinctive reaction to Eliza. She is disturbed by everything about Eliza because Eliza transcends her values. Lady Catherine tries to persuade Eliza to remain another month at Rosings so she can return to London in Lady Catherine’s carriage. She has the subconscious sense that Eliza is a threat to her and wants to create a sense of obligation in Eliza. Before departing Rosings, Darcy and Fitzwilliam call at the parsonage to say goodbye while Eliza is wandering the grounds. Darcy waits a few minutes, Fitzwilliam an hour, but Eliza remains away until they both depart. Eliza is too embarrassed to meet Darcy after reading his letter of explanation. Since Fitzwilliam is the one who told her about Darcy’s interference with Bingley’s marriage, now that she knows the truth, she may be subconsciously angry with Fitzwilliam and unwilling to meet him.
External circumstances and events are a precise expression of the psychological condition of the people involved. The inner-outer correspondence may express in various ways.
At Netherfield ball, “It appeared that her (Eliza’s) family made an agreement to expose themselves as much as they could during the evening.”
Elizabeth’s summary of her thoughts is the precise representation of her character in this context. In the whole episode, she acted as though she were determined to expose her family fully. The correspondence between Elizabeth’s behavior and that of her family can be depicted as follows:
Mr. Bennet tries to get Mary to come away from the piano as she is embarrassing everyone by her poor performance. Mary wants to continue her playing and feels offended. Caroline comes up to Elizabeth to warn her about Wickham. Eliza feels offended too, because she wants to continue her enchantment with Wickham. Mr. Bennet tries to give an advice that is not readily accepted. To Elizabeth, Mary is acting in a foolish way forcing her father to come forward in front of everyone and take her away. Eliza does not see that life is warning her of her own inappropriate behavior.
During their dance together, Eliza directly cross-exams Darcy to the point that he wants her to stop. She then analyzes Darcy’s character for Charlotte. When her cousin Collins speaks out loudly at the party about the duties and obligations of a parson, Eliza feels his oration is an embarrassment to the whole family. She does not yet understand that her aggressive behavior and speech are equally inappropriate and will become equally embarrassing as her cousin’s.
Jane falls ill when she visits Netherfield, indicating she lacks the strength to win Bingley without a further struggle. Her months of waiting and suffering generate the needed intensity from her side.
Charlotte forewarns Eliza that Jane is too unexpressive of her affection for Bingley. Darcy mistakes Jane’s calm exterior for indifference to Bingley and relies on it to persuade Bingley to drop his interest in her.
The fatigue, languor, and tiresomeness that mark the end of the Netherfield ball reflect the events that are soon to follow. The low energy of everyone involved indicates that circumstances are not ripe for success at this time. What follows is the despair of Jane at Bingley’s departure for London, Eliza’s disappointment over the loss of Wickham to Mary King, and Collins’ humiliating proposal to Elizabeth. Compare this with the upbeat jubilant atmosphere—in spite of the humiliation and public exposure—after Lydia’s marriage and departure from Longbourn. It was followed by Mr. Bingley’s proposal, Darcy’s engagement and upliftment of the entire family.
There is a formal, stilted, uncomfortable atmosphere when Eliza and Mrs. Gardiner call on Georgiana at Pemberley. Caroline and her sister are present and overtly cool. Eliza is physically separated from Georgiana by too great a distance to establish a rapport. The same atmosphere prevails between Eliza and Darcy when he and Bingley return to Herefordshire and call at Longbourn. Both instances reflect the fact that the atmosphere is not yet conducive for full rapprochement. The atmosphere fully reverses only after Darcy saves Lydia and encourages Bingley to resume his courtship of Jane. On Darcy’s next visit, he and Eliza immediately find the opportunity for a personal discussion and exchange of vows.
Eliza received warnings about Wickham from four sources prior to the elopement: Caroline’s warning to Eliza and Bingley’s warning to Jane at the Netherfield ball, Darcy’s letter to Eliza at Rosings, and Mrs. Reynolds’ words about Darcy and Wickham during Eliza’s visit to Pemberley.
Falsehood as a vibration in life has its own consequences. The general atmosphere of society in this story is one of frankness, truthfulness and a lack of organized negativity. It is one in which truthfulness as a value is honored and maintained. That is the basis for the society’s prosperity, culture, and harmony. Wickham is the main exception. He comes from the lowest rung of society depicted in the story. Wickham and Darcy both consciously employ falsehood, though of very different degrees. Darcy conceals Jane’s presence in London from Bingley. Wickham deceives Eliza about Darcy. Darcy kept Bingley apart from the woman he wanted by false means. Darcy is abused by Eliza for that ruse and is kept apart from Eliza by Wickham’s falsehood. Darcy’s concealment from Bingley of Jane’s presence in London is in his own mind a falsehood. Even after he learned from Eliza that Jane really does love Bingley, he conceals the fact from Bingley until after Lydia has been married. Wickham is a false character, so his falsehood can go undetected for a long time before it is exposed. But Darcy is one whose ideal is truthfulness. Therefore, his falsehood is exposed by Fitzwilliam. Bingley wants Jane, and Darcy uses a false concealment to separate Jane and Bingley. Darcy wants Elizabeth, but Fitzwilliam reveals to her the truth about Darcy’s act, which has the result of separating Darcy from Elizabeth. The force of his falsehood comes back as a truth against him. Wickham ends up getting his debts paid and marrying Lydia. If he had been honest with Lydia, his debts may not have been paid! Wickham may be one who can still progress by false means.
How might life have been different for Wickham had he been honest with Eliza about Darcy? If she had known the truth, Eliza would have admired Darcy and may have accepted his initial marriage proposal. Both Eliza and Darcy would have admired Wickham’s frankness and reformed character, felt grateful to him for helping bring them together, and welcomed him to Pemberley after their marriage as they did the Gardiners. They would have welcomed and supported Wickham’s marriage to Lydia and elevated him to status of a true brother-in-law. The capacity to believe false information from life is an external reflection of the vibration of falsehood inside, whether it expresses as a capacity to deceive others or a capacity for self-deception. After Lady Catherine departs from Longbourn in a huff, Eliza resorts to a small falsehood in concealing the purpose of her visit from Mrs. Bennet. Her capacity for small falsehood leads her on the long, painful path to accomplishment. Because she has the inner capacity, she is fooled by the falsehood of Wickham into rejecting the very person she will later marry. Falsehood makes us so vulnerable. Suppose Eliza had been incapable of lying, invulnerable to falsehood. She would not have responded to Wickham. She would not have rudely accused and abused Darcy. Her marriage to Darcy, which occurred after much time and suffering, could have been quickly arranged after his letter to her at Rosings clarifying his actions.
Secrecy is an essential capacity for accomplishment, yet uncalled for secrecy cancels work. Hiding is not supported in life when it generates a false feeling is the individual. Eliza withholds the truth about Wickham from her family when she returns from Hunsford. She withholds the truth about Darcy and Wickham from the Gardiners when they visit Pemberley, even when it allows them to think badly of Darcy and well of Wickham. Secrecy is impermissible and provides a cover for falsehood to act in these instances. Wickham is able to use that cover to elope with Lydia and nearly ruin the whole family. Eliza’s secrecy protects a false man and enables him to act again. Darcy conceals Jane’s presence in London from Bingley, an impermissible secret from his friend. Fitzwilliam inadvertently discloses to Eliza about Darcy’s interference with Bingley and Jane. Darcy’s secret is revealed because to his own inner feeling that it is an impermissible falsehood. His own inner regrets are a form of weakness through which the secret reaches the very last person on earth he would want to know about it. When Eliza learns of the elopement, her spontaneous intuition is to confide in Darcy. She is unable to restrain herself. That intuition proves to be the salvation of her family. Her willingness to confide in him what should normally be kept a closely-guarded, family secret is a subconscious intuition that exposing her own weakness can further her relationship with him. Having disclosed the news of Lydia’s elopement to Darcy, Eliza later regrets that she did so. Her regret for the very act responsible for the family’s salvation is an example of the vital tendency for concealment in circumstances when secrecy would have been most detrimental. Darcy displays the most noble of attitudes in concealing his role in Wickham and Lydia’s marriage from Eliza and the rest of the family. It requires a supreme self-restraint not to allow the Gardiners to breathe a word of it to the Bennets. In doing so, Darcy cleanses this act of any possible mercenary motive of trying to buy Eliza’s favor with his generosity. Lydia’s inadvertent disclosure of Darcy’s role in her marriage is life’s response to his magnificent attitude. Incidentally, Lydia’s act is a reversal of Fitzwilliam’s inadvertent disclosure of Darcy’s interference between Bingley and Jane. Fitzwilliam disclosed Darcy’s deceit. Lydia discloses his extraordinary magnanimity. This reversal by life shows that Darcy’s own reversal of attitude is fully genuine.
Darcy’s subconscious urge for Eliza to know, even when he exercises full conscious self-restraint is also a force working for Lydia’s disclosure.
Eliza’s capacity for genuine gratitude is another force that demands by its very sincerity that life reveal its secrets, as Fitzwilliam did at Hunsford.
Lydia is by constitution a very poor instrument for secrecy but a very good one for fostering matrimony, so the disclosure comes naturally from her.
Meanness is one of many particular vibrations that can put their stamp on an act. Because of its pronounced character, it is relatively easy to trace the path of meanness in the story and study its consequences. Ill will is a stronger, more organized vibration that actively seeks and enjoys the misfortune of others. The pattern that we find for meanness and ill will is true of every positive and negative vibration. Each vibration can be described in terms of a quality and an intensity that characterize the acts that express it and the consequences of those acts. Generally, the society depicted in the story is not mean or perverse, but the character of negative acts can be seen at several points. Mr. Bennet teases Collins about Collins’ capacity to readily formulate complements. Collins may not be conscious that Bennet intends a mild insult, but subconsciously he cannot fail to sense that the Bennets look down on him or make fun of him in some way. After Lydia’s elopement, Collins has the satisfaction of writing a letter of condolences to the whole family that reaps full revenge for their earlier mocking. Mrs. Bennet, a beauty in her youth, takes a mean joy is gloating over the physical beauty of her children, especially Jane, and in demeaning the appearance of the Lucas and Long girls. At Netherfield ball, Mrs. Bennet wishes Lady Lucas might soon be equally fortunate (as Jane is with Bingley), “though evidently and triumphantly believing there was no chance of it.” Mrs. Bennet: “It is a pity they are not handsome! Not that I think Charlotte so very plain-- but then she is our particular friend."
Bingley: "She seems a very pleasant young woman."
Mrs. Bennet: "Oh! dear, yes; but you must own she is very plain. Lady Lucas herself has often said so, and envied me Jane's beauty. I do not like to boast of my own child, but to be sure, Jane-- one does not often see anybody better looking. It is what everybody says.”
Longbourn goes to Charlotte, whom Mrs. Bennet called plain. The irony of Mrs. Bennet’s words is that everyone in the story is repelled by the ugliness of her own behavior. Collins’ remark to Eliza that she may never receive another marriage proposal is a mean statement intended to remind her of her precarious social position and encourage her to accept his proposal. Whatever the truth in this statement, it reaps a response from life. After Darcy proposes to Eliza, Lady Catherine takes out her anger on Collins, who leaves Hunsford for a week to escape her wrath. The response to Collins’ earlier meanness comes precisely with regard to the issue of Eliza’s marriage and on the very point the proves Collins’ statement untrue. Both Mrs. Bennet and Eliza respond rudely to news from Charlotte and Sir Lucas: two people who have intense good will for Eliza.
Eliza responds: "Engaged to Collins! My dear Charlotte-- impossible!" Mrs. Bennet, with more perseverance than politeness, protested he must be entirely mistaken; and Lydia, always unguarded and often uncivil, boisterously exclaimed. “Good Lord! Sir William, how can you tell such a story? Do not you know that Collins wants to marry Lizzy?” Public humiliation over Lydia’s elopement is a response to their meanness. Mr. Bennet: “What, has she frightened away some of your lovers?”
This uncalled for, thoughtless statement has a strong grain of truth in it. For ignoring Eliza’s advice and retorting in this way, Mr. Bennet gets humiliated by Lydia’s elopement and has to take full responsibility for it. Although Mrs. Bennet does no know of Darcy’s magnificent efforts to save Lydia, her attitude is unpardonable and not supported by life. Her bad behavior relieves Darcy and Eliza of any sense of obligation to Mrs. Bennet after their marriage. We are told that Mr. Bennet frequented Pemberley after Eliza’s marriage. No mention is made of Mrs. Bennet. On several occasions, Caroline tells Darcy that Eliza is not pretty or claims other faults in her such as impertinence. Caroline’s anger and jealously toward Eliza goes beyond merely trying to denigrate her in Darcy’s eyes. She actively wills and takes initiative against Eliza. When Eliza and Mrs. Gardiner call on Georgiana at Pemberley, Caroline intentionally refers to the militia leaving Herefordshire, a sly reference to Wickham, in the hope of embarrassing Eliza before Darcy. Actually, the statement embarrasses not only Eliza, but Darcy and Georgiana as well. After Eliza departs, she makes nasty comments to Georgiana and then to Darcy. The next day Eliza receives news of Lydia’s elopement with Wickham. Caroline’s ill will is an important immediate cause for the bad news. The intensity of the misfortune that befalls Eliza expresses the intensity of the jealousy that Caroline unleashes. The consequence of Caroline’s ill will is to foster Darcy’s affection for Elizabeth. Caroline loses Darcy as a potential husband and Georgiana as a sister-in-law. After Darcy marries Elizabeth, Caroline has to compensate for her meanness by especially good behavior to the mistress of Pemberley.
Every accomplishment in life is vulnerable to interference or destruction by negative influences. The higher the accomplishment is with respect to previous levels of achievement, the greater the vulnerability. The character of a negative influence can be seen from the nature of events that occur when its approaches or leaves the atmosphere.
Wickham plays the role of a negative influence in the relationship between Darcy and Eliza. His lies to Eliza directly poison the atmosphere of their relationship and generate an intense dislike in her. Eliza’s strong physical attraction to Wickham becomes the weak point through which she is vulnerable. Darcy is vulnerable because he has paid an undeserving man ₤3000 and restrained from exposing his attempted elopement with Georgiana.
Local news about Wickham’s poor reputation reaches Eliza through Caroline and Jane but she ignores it. When Eliza brings Wickham home to Longbourn for the first time to meet her parents, Jane immediately receives a letter from Caroline announcing their departure from Herefordshire for the winter. When Eliza learns that Wickham is to marry Mary King, she soon receives an invitation from the Gardiners for a summer tour that eventually takes her to Pemberley. Wickham’s arrival postpones Jane’s marriage and his removal promotes Eliza’s. Lydia’s elopement comes just at the time that Eliza and Darcy are reintroduced.
The great good fortune coming to the Bennet family through the approach of Bingley and Darcy is undermined by Lydia’s low behavior. She is the weak link in the family through which disaster strikes and almost cancels great good fortune. It is a response of the lower portion of the family to the higher opportunity that has opened for the family. The weakest link breaks when the strongest contemplates an upward initiative at times of great opportunity.
But in one way or another almost all the family members contribute to Lydia’s foolish, destructive act. Mrs. Bennet actively campaigns for Lydia’s visit to Brighton. Mr. Bennet is unconcerned by Lydia’s wayward, unrestrained public behavior with the officers, even when Eliza condemns it. Neither he nor his wife feel it objectionable, which is a sanction for it to expand. Later Mr. Bennet shows the same mental sincerity as Eliza in recognizing his own responsibility for Lydia’s calamity. When warning her father about Wickham, Eliza withholds facts. Because her emotional loyalties are divided and she still wants to protect Wickham, her warning fails. Giving an argument without all the facts was an ineffective strategy. Kitty knew of Lydia’s interest in Wickham two weeks before the elopement, but never said anything.
Wickham is Darcy’s family problem from whom his own sister narrowly escaped. His love and matrimonial intentions for Eliza bring the same problem down on the Bennet family. In one sense it is true that the worst of what Darcy feared about Eliza’s family is realized. In another, it is the connection with Darcy’s own family that is the source of the problem. In this sense, Darcy is not totally above the disgrace that comes on the Bennets. Rather, what he could avoid in the case of Georgiana through his money and superior organization comes to the Bennets and can only be resolved by Darcy’s money and connections. His own sister is even less substantial than Lydia, though more docile. Georgiana was the weak link through which Wickham almost ruined Darcy’s family.
If the karma of Darcy’s family brings misfortune to Eliza’s family, it is also true that Eliza’s attraction to Wickham is the key that opens the door for that misfortune. Eliza later realized that if she had spoken frankly to her family what she learned from Darcy about Wickham, Lydia’s elopement could have been avoided. Eliza is unable to feel anger at Wickham even after the elopement when he interrupts her reading in Mrs. Gardiner’s letter an account of Darcy’s role. Eliza’s unwillingness to publicly condemn Wickham after she learns the truth is the seed for Lydia’s tragic fall.
Goodwill is also a vibration that places its stamp of intention on words and actions and evokes a like response from life. The goodwill and harmony between Mr. Bennet, Eliza, Jane, Charlotte and the Gardiners is the source of all the accomplishments in the story. Charlotte’s goodwill is generous, non-mercenary, pristine and pure, with a touch of divinity. How many people would have been capable of wishing her pretty friend a 10 times higher marriage to Darcy, when her own prospects as a 27 year old, plain girl are so limited? Her goodwill is a direct instrument for the marriages of both Jane and Eliza. The first description of Bingley reaches the Bennet ladies through Mr. and Mrs. Lucas. Charlotte is the first to dance with Bingley at Meryton ball. She also hands him off to Jane next. She is the one who overhears Bingley speaking about Jane’s beauty to Mr. Robinson and then reports it to the Bennets. She is the one who counsels that Jane should express her interest in Bingley more overtly to encourage him. Charlotte and Sir Lucas try in goodwill to bring Darcy and Eliza together, despite Eliza’s rude response to Charlotte’s engagement. Charlotte alerts Eliza to Darcy’s interest in her and urges Eliza to take interest in Darcy rather than Wickham. Sir Lucas brings Eliza to Hunsford on Charlotte’s invitation where Darcy proposes in Charlotte’s room.
What is the response of life to the Lucases’ goodwill? Charlotte, who helps Eliza get Pemberley, inherits Longbourn, an accomplishment that far exceeded her expectations. Because Mrs. Bennet speaks negatively about Charlotte’s marriage in spite of their goodwill and positive role in the marriage of Mrs. Bennet’s daughters, she loses Longbourn to a Lucas. Goodwill is a power, which when rejected, comes back with repercussions.
But why does Charlotte’s reward come in the form of a Collins? Interpreted in a less complementary manner, the Lucases’ solicitude is that of a titled business family for the Bennet’s aristocratic lineage. It is socially motivated based on their perception of Bennet’s superior social status. The Lucases’ goodwill is squeamish and snobbish. Charlotte defends Darcy’s right to act haughtily. Therefore, she gets a squeamish and snobbish Mr. Collins. Eliza is energetic, cheerful, and expansive with intense goodwill for Jane and an eagerness to see her well married. Jane gets Bingley, a man with ₤4000 a year income. Because Jane is positive toward Eliza and receives her support with goodwill, Eliza gets Darcy with ₤10,000 a year.
Eliza rejects Collins’ proposal with goodwill and tries not to hurt his feelings. Eliza’s rejection of Collins is so offensive to his nerves that he rushes out, proposes to Charlotte and leaves Longbourn shortly thereafter. Later Collins serves as an instrument for Eliza to get a good man. Collins expresses a genuine motive of goodwill in coming to the Bennets looking for a wife, so that Longbourn may remain within the family after the entail passes to him. As a result, he gets a very good girl who is far more suitable for him that any of the Bennet girls would have been. Collins later plays an unintentional role in furthering the relationship between Eliza and Darcy when he receives Eliza as a guest at the parsonage.
Collins takes Eliza’s rejection of his marriage proposal as an abuse, even though it is well meant and actually brings him good fortune. It leads him to marry Elizabeth’s friend, Charlotte, the best wife he could get. In return, he informs Lady Catherine of Darcy’s intention to marry Eliza. Lady Catherine’s abuse of Eliza, a direct result of Collins’ initiative, brings good fortune to Eliza, just as Eliza’s rejection of Collins brought good fortune to him. Lady Catherine tells Darcy about Elizabeth’s reaction, which gives him hope about their relationship. Good fortune comes in the form of abuse in both cases.
When Collins returns to Herefordshire a second time after proposing to Charlotte, why does he again choose to stay at Longbourn when he could have stayed with the Lucases? Consciously or subconsciously, Collins wants to retaliate for Eliza’s rejection by reminding the Bennets of his physical claim on their property. He claims the right of return as a cousin, but subtly it reminds everyone that he will eventually inherit Longbourn. Because he does return, he superficially heals the breech with the Bennets caused by Eliza’s rejection of his proposal: his return says in effect that all is forgiven and we are still loving cousins. Therefore, he cannot object when Charlotte later invites Eliza to Rosings, which becomes the occasion for Darcy to propose. In fact, Collins welcomes the invitation because he is eager to show Eliza what she has missed by not marrying him. Before he has even met them, Darcy scorns the Gardiners for living in Cheapside. Later they are responsible for bringing Eliza to Derbyshire and Pemberley. They present the occasion for Darcy to show he has given up his arrogance. They are true agents of goodwill, directly or indirectly connected with the marriages of Lydia, Jane and Eliza. They become welcome guests at Pemberley after Eliza’s marriage.
Gratitude is a sensation. Every type of knowledge generates a sensation. Learning a skill generates a physical nervous sensation. Mental understanding generates a pleasant expansive energy in the mind. Gratitude is the sensation that issues from the spiritual consciousness, from a plane bordering on what Sri Aurobindo terms the supramental.
There are different types and levels of gratitude. Each has its own consequence. Gratitude in the mind leads to knowledge. How difficult is it for us to feel grateful for the truths we learn about ourselves? That gratitude converts awareness into knowledge. Gratitude in the vital leads to joy. Gratitude in the physical being leads to spiritual receptivity.
Darcy feels mental gratitude to Eliza for the knowledge she gives him, so he makes the maximum progress and achieves the maximum delight. Eliza’s emotional response to Darcy is not infatuation, physical or vital attraction or love of the kind he feels for her. Mentally she comes to admire and respect his character, emotionally she is moved by a heartfelt gratitude for the feelings and respect he extends to her so unexpectedly and so undeservedly in the light of her own abominable behavior, her family’s lack of culture, and the misfortune that overcomes them. Eliza’s vital or emotional gratitude is a power that creates receptivity for the resolution of all her family’s problems and the flowering of her own and Jane’s happiness.
Eliza’s confrontation with Darcy at the Netherfield ball is interrupted by Mr. Lucas. His initiative keeps the negativity in check, reflecting the subconscious bond of attraction beneath the surface that does not wish the confrontation to get out of hand. The overall atmosphere concerning the relationship between Eliza and Darcy is positive, though their own negative attitudes and those of other people have to be overcome before the relationship can mature. Later Lucas brings Eliza and Darcy back together, when he takes Eliza to Rosings to meet Charlotte.
The delay in Jane’s first letter to Lambton concerning Lydia’s elopement enabled Eliza to remain at Lambton long enough to meet Darcy at Pemberley. The atmosphere was strong enough to delay the negative news until they had renewed their relationship.
When Darcy’s father died and Wickham rejected the living offered to him at the vicarage, Darcy agreed to give him a princely sum of ₤3000 settlement instead. As childhood companions, he did this after he fully knew Wickham’s character. In return for that generosity, Wickham tried to elope with Georgiana and gain her fortune by deceit. That is the gratitude of an undeserving man to his benefactor. Later Darcy has to pay off Wickham to marry Lydia. Giving more than the occasion or the person deserves leads to misfortune.
Why is Eliza the recipient of two insulting marriage proposals? Eliza refuses to compromise her values in exchange for money or status. But her social position is low and she is unwilling to fully acknowledge the truth of her position to herself. Life first insists on her position and forces her to acknowledge it. Only when she comes to terms with that truth, life honors and rewards her inner character. Darcy initially identifies with his physical, social position. When she refuses to respond to Darcy’s outer position, he acknowledges the strength of her inner status. When Eliza rejects him, he shifts to reliance on his inner character of goodness. She then recognizes his character for what it is. We are valued by others for what we value in ourselves.
P&P refers to the Oxford World's Classics edition of Pride and Prejudice, first published in 1980
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