Tuesday, July 14, 2020

"No means yes" in "Pride and Prejudice"

When Elizabeth Bennet rejects Mr. Collins's proposal in Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice", he responds that "it is usual with young ladies to reject the addresses of the man whom they secretly mean to accept." And though she never gives in, she does counter his claim that his patroness Lady Catherine de Burgh would approve of Elizabeth. That is, she offers him a reason for not marrying him, and he thinks that Elizabeth would say "yes" if it weren't for that reason. In other words, "no, because" means "yes, but" – and that's why men, to this day, produce variations on his ridiculous claim that "when she says no, she means yes." (Andrew Shields, #111words, 14 July)

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