Monday, March 28, 2022

Elizabeth Bennet's "philosophy" of forgetting the past

When Elizabeth Bennet in Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" (1813) speaks with Mr. Wickham after his marriage to her sister Lydia, she brushes off his allusion to an earlier conversation: "Do not let us quarrel about the past." Later, after she is engaged to Mr. Darcy, she calls a similar statement her "philosophy": "Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure." But when the novel's main character tells two of the men she has interacted with to forget all the twists and turns of their past experiences together, then the novel itself ends with the erasure of its own story, which consists entirely of those twists and turns. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 28 March 2022)

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