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  • Writer's pictureIzzy Meakin

Ep.9: The power of the letter in Jane Austen's work

Updated: Apr 8, 2022

Welcome to the Ninth episode of the What the Austen? podcast! I'm your host Izzy, and I am joined by my part-time co-host and fellow Janeite Caily from @half_agony_half_hope. In this episode, we discuss the power of the letters in Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility. We will explore how Jane Austen uses letters in her novels to drive the novels plot forward and to expose deeper truths between characters. From Darcy's letter of revelations to Willoughby's letter of deceit, Jane Austen develops her characters and captures us all through these exchanges.

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Episode Transcript

Izzy 0:18

Hi, Janeites and welcome to episode nine of the, what the Austen podcast and welcome to 2022. I hope you've all had a wonderful December break. If you were celebrating Christmas or any other holiday, I hope it was full of love and laughter. I'm excited to be back in the pod. And I thought who better to kick things off then Caily from @half_agony_half_hope as many of you know, Caily has been a reoccurring guest on the pod. And I think at this point you'll probably consider it a cohost because you're friends too much. So welcome back, Caily.

Caily 0:50

Thank you so much for having me back. It is such an honour and so much fun to be on these episodes. I love doing them with you. And in particular, I'm really excited about this topic today.

Izzy 1:01

Yeah, absolutely. So this episode is going to be covering some of Jane Austen's most powerful letters within her novels. I think before we get into the main conversation, it's less mentioned that the official term used for novels, which was solely driven by letters, epistolary novels. Some examples of this are Dracula, Evelina by Francis Burney, who is a really big inspiration for Jane Austen and Jane Austen's own short story. Lady Susan. We won't be covering lady Susan today just cause I feel like it deserves its own episode. I do like to get into that in a little bit more detail. Instead, we're going to be looking at her full length novels, which although aren't classified as epistolary novels, because that buildup of different narrative forms it's clear Austen really values the use of letters not only to drive her plot forward, but also to expose deeper truths about the characters, Caily, your thoughts on that.

Caily 1:53

Yeah. I was just thinking about Jane Austen's mode of communication and the novels. And she does this either through descriptive narrative or through dialogue, which she's brilliant at, but there are specific points in time where she chooses to have letters be the mode of communication and letters serve a really unique function of either making or breaking relationships oftentimes. And so specifically we're going to focus on, uh, pride and prejudice, persuasion and sense and sensibility and how letters are so formative to developing relationships between love interests and breaking relationships between love interests.

Izzy 2:33

So we're going to start with pride and prejudice. ‘Cause I think that's the one that we've got the most to talk about. So I had a look online and it says in total there were about 42 letters give or take and pride and prejudice, which is pretty amazing. Like I didn't actually realize is that many. I do know there is like a book you can get where it's like pride and prejudice, but the letters are handwritten out or something like that. I don't know if you've ever seen that. No, well.

Caily 2:57

No I haven't. I did not realise there 42.

Izzy 3:01

Yeah, that's a lot. Yeah. I thought that myself. So we've picked out a couple that we think are significant or at least significant to us, the ones that we liked the most. And I think the first thing that we're going to start with is Carolyn Bingley's letter to Jane. When Jane and Bingley have already been courting Caroline Bingley just messes it up.

Caily 3:24

Devastating. It's so devastating.

Izzy 3:26

Yeah. I mean, where do you want to start with this letter? Do you have some like initial thoughts about it?

Caily 3:31

So this letter is the family has had such high hopes that Jane and Bingley or are going to get engaged. And it's so expected. And Jane and Lizzie have just been talking about how they kind of expect that the two of them are going to get together. Lizzie saying something like that. And then, Jane gets this letter from Caroline that completely dismisses everything that Jane and Bingley have had and minimises what their relationship is. And basically she's convincing Jane that Bingley is never going to come back and it's a huge shock. And I think what's very heartbreaking about this letter is just the fact that Jane is trying to give Caroline the benefit of the doubt, but the letter is so nasty and so hurtful and you see how angry Lizzie gets, but you see Jane trying to explain her friend's cruelty. And so I, yeah, that's my initial thoughts.

Izzy 4:37

Yeah, no, absolutely. It's so true. And I think what's also really sad about it is she is so blahzay about it. One of the quotes is ‘he imagined that his business, which took him to London might be concluded in three or four days, but as we are certain it cannot be so, and at the same time convinced that when Charles gets to town, he'll be in no hurry to leave it again.’ It's completely like she knows that Jane likes Bingley, Bingley likes Jane and the fact that she's just like, we thought it could take a short time, which would be beneficial for you, Jane, but that's not going to be the case. Actually. It's going to take a long time.

Caily 5:07

He's never coming back. It's like she has to dangle the carrot only to be like, it could have been a short time, but it's not going to be just so it hurts more.

Izzy 5:16

Yes, she's so cruel to when she dangles the fact that Georgiana Darcy is going to be in the mix and hints that she wants Bingley to get with Georgiana. I think that is so cruel and you're right, there's this air she's so blahzay and she's just, oh, of course things are like this, this is no big deal. And that's just so hurtful. And the the way that she actually refers to Georgia is so up front. Like one of the crate says, from the hope we dare to entertain of her being here after our sister, like that's very direct, like even in a letter, that's quite a, that's not even just saying like, oh, I think, you know, Bingley might get feelings for Georgianna is actually I think they're going to Marry ASAP.

Caily 6:07

Yes. And then she says to, with all these circumstances to favor an attachment and nothing to prevent it, am I wrong? My dearest Jane and indulging the hope of an event, which will secure the happiness of so many.

Izzy 6:21

Right. And which totally plays on Jane's personality because Jane is all about this happiness. Like that's absolutely like her motive. She's one of the most selfless characters I think. And by saying that I think she totally plays on that because James would think, oh, well, if this makes so many people so happy, I wouldn't ever want to stand in the way of that. And I think what's also really interesting is the Caroline's like, oh, I don't know wherever I go to mentioned my feelings on this subject to you before. Yeah, because that would be super awkward for you to do that. But I love how you've waited till the letter like she's ballsy, but not ballsy enough to do it in person.

Caily 7:00

So manipulative, you're you're right. That she plays on Jane's disposition of wanting everyone to be happy. And it's just, it's so heartbreaking. I you get so angry reading that letter and I have the angry reaction that Lindsay does, but it's heartbreaking to see Jane's response. Jane says, what do you think of this sentence? My dear Lizzie, as she finished it, is it not clear enough? Does it not expressly declare that Caroline neither expects nor wishes me to be her sister, that she's perfectly convinced of her brothers and difference. And that if she suspects the nature of my feelings for him, she means most kindly to put me on my guard. Can there be any other opinion on the subject? So the fact that Caroline is so rude and cruel and Jane is still trying to see the good in it and say, oh, she's trying to protect me. It's heartbreaking.

Izzy 7:54

I know, I know. I think another line that really gets me about it is she says something along the lines of, like Charles is really good at making people fall in love with him or something like that. And I feel like that's like trying to say to Jane, you were kind of led on in a way like the, the feelings that weren't true, that he's actually just really good at making people fall in love with men. You know, if you've, if you've fallen victim to that, then you know, if that's just normal, the lose of women do that.

Caily 8:22

Completely. She just minimises the relationship. She doesn't acknowledge at all in the letter that he and Jane had anything, she kind of talks around it. I would say this is a perfect example of some serious gaslighting when you say.

Izzy 8:40

Oh my God, a hundred percent. And Elizabeth has to fight so hard to be like, anybody else you seen you guys together would say, there's something going on Ms. Bingley. And, and she's like, it's obvious, Ms. Bingley would also know that like she's not stupid. And so would suggest that this is a manipulative letter, like Elizabeth tries to say like, logically, everybody else thinks there's something going on between you. There was no way that this could come from a place of that. She's just completely oblivious to it. It has to be manipulative.

Caily 9:11

Exactly. And it Lizzie's in such a difficult place because she wants Jane to see the truth. But she also knows it gives Jane so much pain to know that anyone could be mean-spirited. So she considers Carolina friend. So Lizzie's in a rough spot there.

Izzy 9:31

One of my favorite lines from Elizabeth though is when she's like could she have seen half as much love and Mr. Darcy for herself, she would have ordered her wedding clothes.

Caily 9:44

That is such a good line. Oh my gosh.

Izzy 9:48

This is a bit later, if Miss Anne De Bourgh wasn't in the way she would have already sorted it.

Caily 9:55

So true. Oh my gosh. Oh, I'm looking at this letter too. It's just, she's so cruel to Jane, but then she calls her my dearest friend. I do not pretend to regret anything I shall leave and hurt for sure. So she's totally dissing where Jane's from except your society. My dearest friend. It's just so false.

Izzy 10:16

There's all these like little digs. This there's one as well where she's, all of our like closest friends are going to be in London and she says, oh, I, you know, I'd love to see that. But I suppose that's probably not going to be the case. She says it in a way that's Jane would never be there because Jane's not in the right society to be there. If that makes sense. And it's all these tiny little digs that try and make Jane come across as like inferior to Caroline. And she just really pushes her out there.

Caily 10:41

Yes. I think indirect and passive aggressive would be two ways to describe Caroline. So true.

Izzy 10:49

Yeah. A hundred percent. Great. Honestly makes me cringe so much, but a big thing about this particular, letter is obviously this means that the Bingleys and Mr. Darcy all move out to London and, and then Jane swiftly follows. So she goes and stays with the gardeners. And later we learn more about this time through Mr. Darcy's letter, but it's actually really interesting. This is kind of this marks, the start, of this metal end, which then only increases, which then is actually one of the big rifts between Elizabeth and Darcy later on.

Caily 11:26

That's so funny you use that word meddling because when I was rereading the letter, I kept underlining parts of it and just writing meddling exclamation point.

Izzy 11:38

I love that. So yeah. Is there anything else that you want to chat about on this particular letter?

Caily 11:44

I think we have it pretty much covered. I just think a very false friendship and a lot of surprise and hurt that's that's caused this dramatically changes the plot. We think that Jane and Mr Bingley are about to get engaged and then all of a sudden he's removed from them for a pretty large chunk of the book and this letter precipitates that.

Izzy 12:09

Yeah, absolutely. So, as I always say in, a letter that comes later on that kind of links back to this one is Darcy's letter, which I think is one of the most significant letters in Jane Austen's work because this, this completely changes the narrative in a sense, because from the start we're seeing everything from Elizabeth's point of view and we read it with her bias as well. Her first impressions her thoughts on the characters. And it's not until Darcy's letter that that's kind of spun it on its head. And we see things from another perspective and we actually think, oh, well, we've been wrong in here. Reefing, like thinking of like reap, obviously we've read it so many times that we wouldn't fall with him anymore, but the plaintiffs, when you first read it, you think Wickham's the decent guy, Mr. Darcey with horrible past that. But this completely changes that apart from the father, obviously he was as metal with Jane and Bengali, but yeah, this is an important lesson. Do you want to share some of your thoughts on this one?

Caily 13:11

Sure. Well, I love that you used first impressions because originally Jane was going to call this book first impressions and you're right. It's the first time it's so monumental because it's the first time that Elizabeth has to face the fact that she has had prejudice and black and white thinking. That's prevented her from really understanding the facts and understanding Mr. Darcy's character. And I just remember when Jane says, when did you first start falling in love with Mr. Darcy and it's kind of the joke where it Lizzie says, well, I think it's when I saw his grounds at Pemberley, but really I think the, I love that part. But it really, I think the beginning of their love story when it's mutual is when she reads this letter. This, this letter is such an emotional roller coaster, I think. So it addresses two things. It addresses the fact that Darcy medaled just like we said, and, and took Bingley away from Jane. And he addresses that. And I think while I'm reading that part of the letter, I feel so angsty towards him. I feel Elizabeth anger. I feel very frustrated. Why was he at his place to judge his friend's happiness to manipulate his friend? And he should've just let them be, he should've let them decide for themselves. And instead he just jumps in and assumes that because Jane isn't extroverted and super open that she doesn't like Bingley and he takes his friend away from her. So reading that you're so angry and then all of this horrible stuff to that he says about her family and how her, her family doesn't act well. And her mother doesn't come from good stock. There's so much insult there and so much inappropriate meddling. And so that at that point I feel very, very much, I feel the same way that Elizabeth did. How angry at him? How do you feel during that part of the letter?

Izzy 15:31

I think that's hilarious. He says, you know, alarmed and receiving this letter. It's like, I'm sorry, but I would be along the start of this last year was our seat really rude and you'll think he even Christ, like he is just laying it on now digging a deeper hole for himself because he hundred percent is just tries to justify why he separates Jane and Bingley. And I also think the way that he describes Pingree in this letter, again makes him sound not as appealing. He says, oh, Bingley preferred your elder sister to any of the young women in the country. Well, that makes it sound like he had like a selection book. He preferred her most. And then also I had often seen him in love before, and I feel like it really dumping Bingley's character, the way that he describes him in this letter, like it makes him seem so fickle. And it's only since this reads nothing that I actually realised that he doesn't really do Bingley much justice in this letter. It makes him sound pretty fickle. If he, I feel like he tries to justify it slightly in a sense that he's saying he did them a favour, like he did Jane a favour and her family in a sense.

Caily 16:41

Yes. It's. It's like he doesn't respect his friend's judgment at all. I think one line that stuck out to me was to convince him, therefore, that he had deceived himself was no very difficult point. So the fact that he could convince his friend that this woman didn't love him.

Izzy 17:02

At least to that he has the ability to deceive himself. He said, he's not clueless. He can, he can trick his own mind.

Caily 17:10

Yeah. It's very patronising. Yeah. I totally agree with you on that.

Izzy 17:17

No, it's, it's quite bad. And I just think, I agree, like when you read it, you, you angry because you're like, well, like you said, as if it wasn't enough to, say horrible stuff about her family during the proposal, he then just like, I've a bit more in that.

Caily 17:36

Oh my gosh. Yes. When he says the situation of your mother's family, bow objectionable was nothing in comparison of the total want of propriety so frequently, so almost uniformly betrayed by herself by your three younger sisters and occasionally even by your father, just the fact that he could continue to insult her family. And I think in particular, I think it really hurts Lizzy that he could say something like that about her father, because she has such a close relationship with her father.

Izzy 18:11

I totally agree. It's just insult upon insult. Like, he's basically saying if your mother's family wasn't bad enough, your actual direct family is pretty part as well. And it's just like, okay, that's great. But I totally agree. I think it would hurt Lizzie more that he brought a father into it because they, they are close. And I think she has a lot of respect for her father. I think it's maybe shaking a little bit with his decision to let Lydia go, to Brighton. Yeah. I think that would hurt more than any fed, at least with her mum. She can probably be like, yeah, my mom's a bit Cray Cray. That's for sure. But, and my sisters. Yes. But I think, yeah, you're already with a dad. I think that's too far.

Caily 18:56

Exactly. Yeah. There's just such an angst at this point in the letter. And I think part of it is she knows that he's bright about the way that her family behaves, but it's also such an affront and it's so hurtful to see it written down. And he just, I think the way he ends that section of the letter too, he does show some remorse that he concealed that Jane was in town. Um, and he goes, perhaps this concealment, this disguise was beneath me, but then he says this part, uh, I get so angry at him. It is done, however, and it was done for the best on this subject. I have nothing more to say no other apology to offer. And then he said, though, these Mo motives, which governed me may too, you very naturally appear in sufficient. I have not yet learned to condemn them. So just the fact that he even though he knows now that Jane did lovingly the fact that he doesn't have any apology and the fact that he's such a hypocrite, that he would take his best friend away from this family, but then propose to Jane's sister. And the hypocrisy there too is frustrating.

Izzy 20:12

No, a hundred percent no secret. I literally have those quotes down as well because the freaking wraps this up is like, there is, this conversation is over. There's nothing more to be said to him. This is it signed, sealed. And Lizzie's probably that like, actually this isn't done for me. Like you're still in the wrong. And I think later when he softens more to Elizabeth and I think, lets his guard down a little bit, then he goes back and addresses this anything. So actually Jesus, I was being a bit with douchebag really needs to excuse me to sort that out. God. I mean, can you imagine how embarrassing you wrote this to your future wife or you looked back on this letter years later? I mean, I know he looks back on, he says in his second proposal, I think he feels Scottish. I was so awful. And it's like, yeah, you are.

Caily 20:58

He really was. And I think one interesting choice that the adaptation, the 1995 adaptation made was this part of the letter comes second, which is really odd because we're about to talk about the second half of the letter, which is a completely different tone, but they choose to have the second half first and this part at the end which is just odd because you see Elizabeth more forgiving at first and then you see her more angry and that second half. So, so we're kind of like, where is it going to go from here?

Izzy 21:36

It's back to being that douche bag again, flipping heck, like really fell for it.

Caily 21:43

So I think it makes much more sense the way it's laid out in the book where we have this part first.

Izzy 21:49

Yeah, absolutely. He's almost like as he's writing it, he's softening his character a little bit. And I think as well, I think when he starts to write the wicked side of things, he probably does recognise that his judgment isn't always the best. Well, look at what happened with Wickham and my sister or that kind of thing. Yeah.

Caily 22:07

I think that's such a good point. Because well, we'll get into it, but I think one of the most redeeming parts of the second half of the letter is how honest he is about relaying certain parts of the story that match up with what Wycombe said for, for example, like he just said that, uh, Wickham's father was a respectable man and that his own father did love Wickham. So the fact that some of the facts line up, I think gives him more credibility, but I can see what you're saying about how he might not trust his own judgment when it comes to Wickham, because he's so angry and because Wickham has wronged him so much.

Izzy 22:50

Do you think it's because he's in this story, like it's a direct story to him. Whereas the Bingley Jane thing, he's kind of separate, it's not this, isn't his story that was Jane and Bingley situation. And he could kind of metal and it not affect his life in general. Whereas I feel like the Wiccan thing he's more vulnerable, but it's also so much more personal.

Caily 23:13

I agree. I think he is it, he has so much more of a personal wound that his vulnerability is very compelling here because he's gone from having such pride, arrogance and vibrato when talking about the Jane part of the letter.

Izzy 23:31

Absolutely. One part that I really like about the second half of the letter as well is that he goes like as a, as a witness to it, you can ask kind of it's William to testify. This is correct because I think he knows that his comments and what he says just isn't respected in many ways by Elizabeth anymore. And I think he recognises that she respects kind-of it's William. And I think that's really interesting that he says, you know, if you can't believe my words, I know that you've got more of a friendship with kind-of it's William and he can kind of testify to this. And I think that shows an understanding of Elizabeth and her feelings towards him. Like, I don't think he's in the dark. I think now, especially since she rejected him, I think he, he really sees the hurt that he's done to her.

Caily 24:27

Yes. I think that's an extremely moving part because he's such a closed off person emotionally. The fact that he would be so vulnerable about what happened with his sister and so open with Elizabeth. It's like, even though he knows that Elizabeth thinks horribly of him and probably thinks he has no chance with her ever again, he still wants to prove to her that he's good and he is willing to make himself vulnerable and willing to have he's willing to open up to Elizabeth about it, but also willing to involve Colonel Fitzwilliam. And yeah, I think that's very compelling, but it's also very funny that he wants to prove himself by bringing it. It's fairly formal in a sense, you know?

Izzy 25:15

Not just my advice. Okay. I've got other testimony to support me. That's so Darcy he's like, I've got back up. You know, it's not just my word.

Caily 25:27

Yes. Oh. What an emotional rollercoaster this letter is because you start just feeling the softness and feeling, knowing that he has this, this wound that he's sharing with Elizabeth to go from being so angry at him to having this second part of the letter is just very, very compelling. And I think a huge part of what I like about the second part of the letter is you see how much he loves his sister and how much he's taking care of her. You also see how responsible he is, how much he's cared for the estate. You know, his father died when he was pretty young and it shows how shrewd he is and what a good judge of character he is. So even when his father continued to love Wickham, there's this whole part of the latter letter where he has recognised Dickens' character flaws that has an exposed them or talked to his father about them. So there's kind of this sense of you just see that he's very socially intelligent and responsible, and I don't know about you, but that really makes me like him more.

Izzy 26:37

Yeah, absolutely. I think there's some really funny lines as well. Wait, like this whole night where he says like, I can either miss the ought not be a clergyman. We all feel that way. Christ. We definitely wouldn't want to him given summons. Oh my days.

Caily 26:52

I laughed aloud and I remember the best part.

Izzy 26:58

But I think it's also interesting. I think his generosity shows in this letter as well, because he doesn't just write with them off, straight away. He's still, follows his father's wishes after his father's died. Like he could genuinely do, he could have done what we can said he'd done and just cut him off and go, my father's dead now. I don't want to give you any fun. I'm not even giving you your live in that my father kind of bestowed on you or whatever he could have done that. Absolutely. And he did. And he went even further that he gave him other chances. Mr. Wickham obviously came through. And so I want us to do the law or instead of being a clergyman and he's gone, okay, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. I'll give you the, the money that would have been like the equivalent of that live in which I think is like 3000 pounds or something like that. And again, he disappointed him. He comes back in it's at that point then he's, he didn't want to be a clergyman, which was what you were supposed to get anyway. So I gave you the benefit of the doubt and I gave you the funds so that you could go and study the law, even though I didn't think it was gonna work out, but then he comes back again and ask him for more money. I mean, we spoken about Mr. Wagon quite a few times in the especially in the October episode that we did villainoff, but he's just kind of shamed. He just keeps rocking back home. Can I have some more money?

Caily 28:12

He's the he's so bad. So ridiculous. And I agree with you. I think it must be so difficult for Darcy to have the foresight. And to know that Wickham is a bad egg. It's not like he was blindsided by it if he distrusted Mr. Wickham, but he wanted to respect his father's wishes. So he went through with giving him the 3000 pounds only to have Wickham disappoint him and come back and ask for more. So you can just see the frustration building and then for Wickham to go on and go after his sister, who's only 15 years old at the time, try to elope behind his back. And he's so awful. And there's this part where you just feel his anger. He said, Mr. Wiccans, chief object was unquestionably. My sister's fortune, which is 30,000 pounds, but I cannot help supposing that the hope of revenging himself on me was a strong inducement. His revenge would have been complete. Indeed.

Izzy 29:12

Yeah, absolutely. And again, in that episode, we really talked about that about the fact that it wouldn't have been enough for Wiccan just to take the money. It had to be that double edge sword I'll take the money, but also this is really gonna hurt Mr. Darcy in doing this because he's got such love for his sister. And obviously now that his father has died is just the two of them. And Mr. Darcy, Hannah takes the place of Georgeanne’s father and he cares for her in that way in he's completely devoted to it. Like you can tell around the book when you see them interact with each other. Yeah, but he really loves her. And I just think it's so sad, but so wicked and to do that. And I think it's so true, like considering he obviously he's kept this a secret for so long because he cares about his sister and doesn't want to ruin her reputation. And I think you're right. There is such a vulnerability here that he shares this with Elizabeth. I think this is might be well, what does Elizabeth? Because she must think, wow, he shared this with me. He didn't have to, he could have just gone off and been like fine. She thinks I'm a douche bye. But he, I mean, parts of it could be that he's like pride, but he's like, I need to prove myself that I'm not a terrible person, but also this is a lot to expose about his private life.

Caily 30:28

Oh my gosh. Yeah. I mean, he is so vulnerable here and it just shows how much he authentically cares about Elizabeth for who she is. He's not, it's not that he's just physically attracted to her. The fact that he doesn't think that they'll end up together now that she hates him and he still is willing to disclose this personal information and wants her to think well of him and wants her to know the truth and wants to redeem himself in her eyes. Even though right now, he has no hope that they'll ever get back together. I think that's a Testament to how much he truly cares about her as a person, as an individual.

Izzy 31:07

Right? You may even be doing it in the sense that he thinks, oh gosh, I didn't want to attend the weekend because I knew Wickham's true character. So even if it's just a, I want the best for you sale, I'm going to tell you about this. Person's true character because I can see how entangled they have your family already. Um, obviously still doesn't work out, but at the end of the day, like the, there was no other way of going about that because I don't think Elizabeth could have told people because it's not her secret detail. And as she definitely could have told someone like Lydia, cause Lydia would have blabbed about it. Yeah. I think it's interesting. It definitely shows that Mr. Darcy respects Elizabeth, even if she at this moment in time, doesn't respect him.

Caily 31:45

Absolutely. And I just, I just wanted to, I, I do really feel Mr. Darcy's pain and that Mr. Wickham wants to have revenge on him, but Mr. Darcy tried to do right by him. So it's just very, you just feel Mr. Darcy's pain, the fact that Mr. Wickham is so awful towards him and slandering him to everyone when Mr. Darcy really tried to do the right thing by Mr. Wickham. Yeah.

Izzy 32:17

Yeah. I know. It's honestly pretty, pretty disturb and that's for sure. If there's anything else that you want to talk about on that particular letter?

Caily 32:31

I don't think so. I just think you know, when we talk about the function of letters and moving forward, the plot, I think pride and prejudice, this is one of the best examples of how a letter can dramatically change the plot and make a relationship. This, this letter is the shift in Darcy and Elizabeth relationship.

Izzy 32:54

Yeah, absolutely. And like you said, a complete shift in the plot because this changes the course of the entire marriage plot at this point, because one, we named Mr. Wickham's rake. So he's out the picture as a potential March. And we know his true card or not what turned you the worry like, oh gosh, don't go near it with him. But so it does improve Mr. Darcey slightly in our eyes. Because we know he isn't as bad as we first thought he was. And there's more him makes his character a bit more rounded. We found out that he's, you know, he's got his sister and she's really close to him because I think before then, mostly what we hear about Georgianna is more about, from Caroline Bingley, like pretending like the besties when they're really not even, that's so cringy and hilarious, she knew that Caroline's always like, just draws you on at this and that. And he's like, she's like.

Caily 33:47

Oh, totally. I love that little bit of a digression, but I just love that part when Caroline, Bingley's talking about how accomplished Georgianna is and oh, how is she? She has tall as I am. And he goes, she's actually about miss Elizabeth Bennett's height. Caroline looks so mad.

Izzy 34:09

I love that that's so funny. She's like, oh, you add this to the letter. And he's like, I have not got a space for that.

Caily 34:19

I love seeing the way he responds or doesn't respond to Caroline being, I know.

Izzy 34:25

Everybody, I feel like Elizabeth really enjoys that as well. And she's just laughing so much because she knows how much they Caroline wants tomorrow. Mr. Darcy. And I feel like she just rebels in like the fact that he constantly shoots it down and he just.

Caily 34:38

Oh my gosh, totally. Like when she finds out, but, and a Berg is destined for Darcy remembers, she goes poor, miss Bingley. She does that in the 1995 version.

Izzy 34:51 - 35:10

I love that. Okay. So the next, set of letters that we wanted to discuss in pride and prejudice is, um, those from Mr. Collins. So if he isn't buddy enough in person, he's also, bad with the pen and us kick a punch as well. That's special.

Caily 35:11

Mr. Collins, so we're, we're going to talk about two letters, but the first is just when he's introduced to the novel and you really get a sense of his personality. And the second is going to be when he writes the letter to Mr. Bennett, after he finds out that Lydia has run away with Wiccan. And so Mr. Collins, a lot of people view him as sort of a character, just kind of a bumbling idiot who doesn't really have good social skills, which in this initial letter, you definitely see, he says I've frequently wished to heal the breach.

Caily 35:48

But for some time I was kept back by my own doubts, hearing less, it might seem disrespectful to my father's memory for me to be on good terms with anyone, with whom it had always pleased him to be at variance. So basically he's saying my father didn't like you. So I didn't know if I should reach out to you and Mr. Bennett, because my father hated you. And I didn't want to dishonor his memory. Like he has no social sense to, to refrain from putting that in a letter. And it's like, oh, okay, nice.

Izzy 36:23

Right. It's his train of thought as well, where he's like, sometimes I'm not really, you know, if it was right for me to actually write this letter to you, but now I am like.

Caily 36:32

It's really necessary. There is no filter with what, what he's thinking and then what he puts on paper. And I just, Mr. Bennet's reactions to Mr. Collins are just amazing too. But so the whole idea is Mr. Collins, you think he's well-intentioned, he knows that he, the estate is entailed away to him so that, you know, away from the five Bennett sisters. So he, it makes sense to him to marry one of them. And so you think, oh, he's trying to do the right thing. And he tries to present himself as such this wonderful moral person. He said, I feel it, my duty to promote in the established the blessing of peace and all families within the reach of my influence. He sees himself as this amazing clergyman. I want to offer you an olive branch and he's a for inheriting the state, which is very odd too. And just, you just see that he is a bumbling idiot, and then he's awkward, overly apologetic, but has good intentions also has no filter. Like he's, he's just bumbling and ranting and monologuing about lady Catherine in this letter. And they don't even know lady Catherine yet. If you just add to these weird details, lady Catherine is far from objecting to my occasional absence on a Sunday. Hey, Mr. Colin, no one's calling. No one really cares. So, you know, from this initial letter, he's odd, but he's not necessarily malicious. Yeah. Would you agree with that? What do you think of the initial letter?

Izzy 38:15

Absolutely. No, I agree. He comes across, you think, oh, he's innocent and he's not harmful. And he's obviously a bit of a numpty, but we can really love that, but we can kind of like, we don't think that he's necessarily going to affect or heroine's life, I think is the key. We're just, oh, this pass is just like an edge on the funny character. We'd usually comment actually in these books. So that was like this funny character. And I know you had to talk a little bit more about Mr. Collins, but I think it's interesting the way that his character develops that he doesn't the person that he ends up being isn't exactly the same as the person that he stops off task.

Caily 38:53

Absolutely. I think we're, we're used to characters that are there to sort of provide comic relief. I think are just characters that are a little annoying, but harmless, like you think of, the Palmers Charlotte Palmer or Mrs. Jennings. And you almost think that Mr. Collins is this way. And I think some people still think that he's pretty harmless, but I have a very strong opinion that Mr. Collins is a villain and Mr. Collins, I really think he's horrible. And the reason I think, think this is because of this letter that he sends to Mr. Bennett. So the context of this letter is Lydia has just run off with Wickham and the family is so stressed out about it. They can't find her. They know that their family will be disgraced and the girls are coming to terms with the fact that they might not be able to be able to marry well. Because of the disgrace that Lydia has brought upon their family, which for that time was pretty horrific. And so they're all trying to cope with it and feel better about it and manage their mother. And then they get this letter from Mr. Collins and just a few lines I want to read my dear, sir, I feel called upon by our relationship and by my situation in life to condole with you on the grievous affliction, you are now suffering under. And so, you know, he says, I want to sympathise with you, your grievous grievously to be pitied. He acts like, he's so sorry for them. And he wants to console them. But then he, he said things like, in your present distress, which must be the bitterest timed because proceeding from a cause which no time can remove. So basically he's saying nothing can heal this, which she's done it. She can't recover it. She can't recover from it. You're not going to be able to move past this. And then he says, this is the line that really gets me. The death of your daughter would have been a blessing in comparison of this. So he, he saying Lydia should have rather, it would have been better if she had died than what happened here. Can you imagine something bad happening to a family member of yours and then have someone who's supposed to be a loved one, say something like that to you?

Izzy 41:24

Yeah. I still felt like it's not bad enough. The situation he's just like making it so much worse. The unfiltered cider, Mr. Collins, I does show his like nasty side. And I think it's actually only worse when he marries Charlotte, because I think actually deep down, I think Charlotte hob is the same to not be feelings.

Caily 41:48

Yeah. Yes. Oh my gosh. That's it. I was just gonna say that he let's slip something that Charlotte says that's so hurtful, especially because Charlotte and Lizzie are so close. He said there's reason to suppose as my dear Charlotte informs me that this lice licentiousness of behaviour in your daughter has proceeded from a faulty degree of indulgence. So basically he's letting slip that Charlotte has been kind of criticising the family and the way the Bennets have raised their daughters. And then he just goes, I'm inclined to think that her own disposition must be naturally bad, or she could not be guilty of such an enormity at so early in age. But then after he throws those horrifically cruel comments, he just goes, however, so that may be, you are grievously to be pitied. And it's just, oh my gosh. And then in addition to that, he’s smug. He rubs in the fact that he had proposed to Lizzie and he's so glad to not be a part of their family. It makes me so angry. This consideration leads me more over to reflect with augmented satisfaction on a certain event of last November for had it been otherwise, I must've been involved in all your sorrow and disgrace.

Izzy 43:12

Oh my God. That is so bad. Like if all, if you said what you said so far, isn't bad enough. He's literally just like, well, I'm thank God I am Maria Dorsey because I'll be wrapped up in this with you. Well, it's like, isn't that worse than that? He sent the letter because he sends the letter initially saying like, obviously in the family member, I want to show my support to you, but really by the end of the lesson, you know, he never intended this to be a letter of support. This was always going to be, I'm going to rip this new face because I probably still feel a little bit annoyed that your daughter refused me and it's kind of hurt my ego a little bit. He just stirs the pot.

Caily 43:52

Exactly. He's so gloaty and conniving, and then he's supposed to be a clergyman he's supposed to be preaching, love and peace. Like he said, in the initial letter. And then he's advising Mr. Bennett. He says, throw off your unworthy child from your affection forever and leave her to reap the fruits of her own heinous offense. Like how un-Christian and how unloving is bad.

Izzy 44:19

So grim, honestly, how sad is that? Can you imagine as well is dependent just being like, yep. Goodbye. You're cut off forever. I mean, the fact that Mr. Collins even suggest that just shows the history character, I think. And like I said, I think, I think Charlotte just increases his bad nature. I don't think they, I think, I think this is why a lot of people think they're well-suited because I think together they have very similar ideas and this snobbery and yeah, I think they bring out the worst in each other.

Caily 44:58

I agree with you. I think that's just such a cringe part of the letter when you realize that it's not only, he feels this way, but that Charlotte has influenced this and that Charlotte hasn't has been speaking poorly against the family because Charlotte is supposed to be Lizzie's best friend. And, um, I mean, I'm partial to the 1995 pride and prejudice adaptation, but I love the way that they have him instead of having the letter, they have him say this directly to Lizzie Jane and Mary with kitty outside hiding. Amazing. But that part where he says the death of your daughter would have been a blessing in comparison. Jane puts her hand on Lizzie's leg so that Lizzie does not completely freak out it. Mr. Collins. And I love when Lizzie does stand up and basically asks him to leave. But yeah, this letter, I just think is heinous and Mr. Collins is.

Izzy 45:58

Yeah, I'll put it out there. Mr. Collins is a villain. Okay. No, I totally agree. I think a letter like kind of a response to this, but it does come a lot later is Mr. Bennet's last than me and to him. I think that is just such a good fluff in the face that he sent his letter originally. And then things work out so well for the rest of the sisters and obviously Wickham's forced to marry every year anyway. And so that kind of wraps that up. The fact that they get married, it just kind of washes away the scandal in many ways which is obviously Mr. Darcy's intention and doing it in the first place. But yeah, I love that Mr. Bennett kind of gets his own back in the end.

Caily 46:47

That's a good point. I didn't even think of that, but yeah, I just, I wanted someone to go. You were wrong, Mr. Collins. How's that?

Izzy 46:55

Yeah. And that, that situation is so much better off. Yeah, I think that's really, do you have any more Mr. Collins comments or letters you want to discuss?

Caily 47:07

I could talk about him all day, but I better quit while I'm ahead.

Izzy 47:11

Yeah. Now you've accused him as being a villain. Let's leave it there.

Caily 47:17

We'll leave it there.

Izzy 47:19

Oh gosh. That's so funny. Okay. So there's one more pride and prejudice letter I want to talk about one that I feel quite passionate about. One of my favourite letters is actually, from Mrs. Gardner to Elizabeth. So she sends Mrs Gardner a letter saying like when, linear exposes the Mr. Darcy was at the wedding and all of that, Elizabeth writes her onto a letter saying like, what's going on basically. I've why was Mr. Darcy there? And I think this lesson is amazing for a couple reasons. One because Mrs. Gardner, Mr. Gardner is totally open about the fact that they already think Darcy and elicit reference hatched. I'm fine. She takes a certain part, actually hilarious. So she's still at the lesser. I was saying, I'm surprised you've listened to me because I thought you were already in on it all. She thought that her and Mr. Darcy had potentially even, like come up with this plan together so they could still get married. And she says like, obviously my husband was thinking the same. We thought you'd already know what was going on. I would say, sorry, if I'm kind of being ignorant in the fact that you don't. And then again, she kind of wraps this up in the end with this same full process where she says, this is actually amazing. She says about Mr. Darcy says, I still assume very sly, hardly ever mentioned your name, the seams, the fashion pre forgive me if I have been very prosumer, but assuming or at least do not punish me so far as to exclude me from Pemberley. But where she, when she's talking about Pemberley, I shall never be quite happy to like being all around the park. So she's already in fighting as well as the Pemberley. Cause she's got she's that convinced that that basically already engaged, but she's like, oh, me and dirt. Like during fall you're onto house. Because I won't see, I think she said something like, I want to go round on a pony or like an awesome it's so funny. Like she's already plumbed the day out. So I think that, I mean, if you want to comment on that particular elements of the letter.

Caily 49:25

Yes. I highlighted that part of the letter too. It's just so refreshing because there's so much uncertainty surrounding Lizzie and Darcy's relationship at this point and Lizzie's even questioning, will I ever see him again? Did he still love me? Do, what do I know about this? And so it's so nice because we forget that nobody really saw Lizzie and Darcy's romance unfold after the letter, except for Mr. And Mrs. Gardner, they saw them in the prime of their mutual falling in love. And so it's so great to get this letter from Mrs. Gardner at this time. And I think another really sweet part is she, Mrs. Gardner says, my dear Lizzie, you may rest perfectly assured that your uncle would never have yielded with regard to letting Mr. Darcy do everything for Lydia paying back Mr. Wickham's debts, if we had not given him credit for another interest in the affair. So they just knew she knew he loved Lizzie. Like she, she knew it. And the fact that she's so openly hints to it is really heartwarming.

Izzy 50:32

Absolutely. And I think it's really nice that it's actually Mrs. Gardner who really seals the deal on dossiers true character because, and relaying all this information to Elizabeth, which otherwise she may never have found that out because it was supposed to be a secret. I think this just confirms to Elizabeth, her feelings for Darcy and also his true character and what he's about. And I mean, he goes on a serious mission. Like he like even say like in the life, like he drew, it goes down to Linda, like the day after he still the whole thing out, he finds out Mr. Bennet's in their house. So he doesn't want to go around just that. So wait till the day after then he goes around and then he goes and negotiate with Mr. Gardner about the whole deal. And then it's all sorts. And he's like, I'll be back in like a couple of days for the wedding. And I just think he's, so at this point he doesn't know whether or not he's going to be able to get Elizabeth, but he's still so determined to sort things out for. And I think a lot of it, like it says, um, he calls it therefore his gets to set forward and endeavour to remedy the evil, which had been brought on by himself. So he obviously, to an extent, feels responsible for Mr. Williams. I think his character and his actions, which I absolutely didn't believe is his responsibility because Mr. Wickham, his own person and an adult. But I think the fact that Mr. Darcy, I think he thinks that he enabled Mr. Wickham by funding him originally. And by not exposing him to society, it's meant that Mr. Wickham can still continue. He feels a lot of responsibility that he's, he didn't expose Wickham at the time of his sister. And he says, because of pride, but at the same time, I mean, that could really ruin judge you on his character. So I understand why he wouldn't have done that.

Caily 52:18

Totally. I think he takes too much responsibility for that. But you see how much, how formative this letter is in making him rise in Lizzie's esteem, even more just when Mrs. Gardner says our visitor was very obstinate. I fancy Lizzie that Oxton and see as the real defect of his character after all, he's been accused of many faults at different times, but this is the true one. Nothing was to be done that he did not do himself. And I think when she's saying that, she's saying he's not improperly prideful, he's a really good guy and this obstinacy, she calls it a fault, but really it shows how determined he is to make things right. And how, what a sense of honour he has and how dedicated he is to not only making things right, but to show up for Elizabeth. And so, and I just think this letter, the reflection after the letter that Lizzie has is so important. One of my favourite quotes ever by Jane Austen is her heart did whisper that he had done it for her. Lizzie has that Lizzie thinks that to herself right after this letter. And she has this part where she says for herself, she was very humbled, but she was proud of him, proud that in a cause of compassion and honour, he had been able to get the better of himself. She read over her aunts commendation of him again. And again, it was hardly enough, but it pleased her. So Mrs. Gardner's letter is just so formative and making Lizzie fall even more in love with Darcy.

Izzy 53:54

Yeah, absolutely. A hundred percent. And I think, um, on the other side of that, it absolutely confirms Wickham's character as well. And one quote that says, Mr. Darcy asked him why he had not married your sister at once though. Mr. Bennett was not imagined to be very rich. He would have been able to do something for him. And his situation must have been benefited from, by by marriage. And I think that's so interesting that despite Mr. Darcy's original reservations about the Bennett family, he's like, why would you not just marry it? This is not a bad match for you, with him Christ alive. This is actually a really good much for you. And I think even Mr. Darcy is still hoping for the best and with him at this point, the fact that he even asked, why have you not yet married her shows that he still has a glimmer of hope that Mr. Wilson's a good guy. And then Mr. Williamson's around three minutes basically says like, oh, well I was hoping. So, you know, go to a different country and Maurice and want a fortune and still.

Caily 54:50

He says, Wickham still cherished the hope of more effectually making a sportsman by marriage in some other country. So you're right. It's just like, just, there's such foils of one another, Mr. Darcy sense of honour. And the hope that with them will be honourable and his, his own enactment and his own honour, and then seeing how Wickham just doesn't care. It doesn't have any kind of morality.

Izzy 55:13

Yeah, no, exactly. And I think it's really interesting that Darcy's letter starts this journey. You have exposing both of their characters and then this just wraps it up. And we're just left with, there's no question anymore. We know it becomes the, the bad guy. And I think it's just sad that they will forever be entangled, but I feel like that could have be no of a way. I feel like they, by nature, they're always meant to be entangled Mr. Adasia, Mr. Wickham. And they would always have to be in each other's life for, for whatever reason. I feel like it makes sense that he ends up marrying.

Caily 55:44

Yeah, I think that's right. And I always wonder how, how that went afterwards when everyone was in the same family.

Izzy 55:52

Oh my God. I know. I mean, awful. I think it's really interesting as well is I think from this letter, you, you don't feel sorry for Lydia very much at all. Like even if like you think, oh gosh, she was so naive. Like she ran off with liquor and that's so sad. Like we know that she's daft, but I think when you first hear about it, you're like, gosh, she's totally manipulated her. But the way that Mrs. Gardner says that she behaves and you just lose like total, you're just like, Ugh, like what, what can you say? I mean, you can can't feel sorry for it because she says like how awful she was when she was at the house, like totally disregarding the fact that she put her family through hell. I mean, the cheek of it that says that Lydia basically turns around to Mr. Darcy and she's like, no, I'm not going co I wanna marry with them. I'm going to stay with Wickham. She's just completely abominable.

Caily 56:42

Yes, I totally agree. And she just has no guilt. That's always really bothered me and both in this letter, the way Mrs. Gardner's describing it, how she just won't listen and won't, won't take on any of that guilt or responsibility. And also when she comes to visit the family with Wickham to just, she doesn't care, it doesn't mean.

Izzy 57:04

Because I think it's interesting that Wickham upholds his, his full character to Ms. Gordon. And like she says, like he was still the same, but she says, I talked to her repeatedly referring to Lydia in the most serious manner, representing to her all the wickedness of what she had done and all the unhappiness she had brought us on the family. If she had heard me, it was by good luck, Frank shore, she was dead. She did not listen. So it's just that it's like she just could not care. Less really happened is the key. And you know, we don't see what happens after, and maybe with time and issue grows up. She comes to recognise it more. Maybe that's wishful thinking. I'm not sure. I think she'd probably regret regret it in the sense that she feels disappointed with haemorrhage to wake and more than the chaos that them getting married in the first place. Because I think she'd actually just feel sorry for herself. If, if it doesn't work out with them, obviously continues to be a Ray can just like sleeps around with people in gambles. And I mean, I can't see how having the happiest of marriages. That's all.

Caily 58:07

I can't either. And I think it is so frustrating that she absorbs no guilt. She doesn't feel guilty at all, but then you see how emotionally affected the rest of her family is like how upset Mr. Bennett is how upset Lizzy and Jane are. And it just feels so unfair how much they go through emotionally when she doesn't go through it. And she's the one who was involved in the situation directly.

Izzy 58:31

I feel like the only person that really grows from this situation is actually kitty and she's not directly related, but I think she learns from Lydia's mistake.

Caily 58:40

Absolutely. You feel that there's a maturity with kitty and there's hope that she can not follow in her sister's footsteps footsteps so much.

Izzy 58:50

Yeah, absolutely. Okay. So I think, unless there's anything else you want to add on?

Caily 58:56

Oh, I just want to say, I feel like I've always focused more on Mr. Darcy's and Mr. Collins letters. It was really a pleasure to go back and read Mrs. Gardner's letter and realise how important it is and all of the nuances and all of the really important information that is really formative to the plot. So yeah, this letter is really important.

Izzy 59:17

Yeah. I really like it. It's definitely one of my favourites. The next novel on the list is persuasion. This is a very, very well-known letter and absolutely pivotal, even though it's at the end, it's such an important letter, I think. Should we start by just, reminding people of a couple of lines? You pass myself. I am half agony half hope. Tell me that I am not too late. That such precious feelings are gone forever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it eight years and a half ago. And then I also got the - oh, I love this line so much. Oh my gosh.

Caily 59:59

Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman that has love has an earlier death. I have loved none, but you unjust. I may have been weak and resentful. I've been, but never in constant. You told all the same lines that I did. I'm getting a little choked up. I love this letter. I actually have this framed, hung up in my living room. It is just, I think it is the most romantic letter that I've ever read in literature. And yeah. What was it about those lines that you chose?

Izzy 1:00:37

I think all the way through the novel, the kind of superficial and Frank side of Wentworth that we see, isn't very vulnerable. And I love how vulnerable this letter is. Like how long he's held onto this. He's such in like a submissive position in this letter. He's like, I offer myself up to you again with a heart, even more your own when you almost broke it eight years and a half ago, like this is from, he's offering himself again to a woman that's already rejected him. And it's, I feel like it's so much deeper than Darcy second proposal, because they were so young when they got together and it's been eight years and a half since that first proposal that this is a deep wound. That's never healed. And he's trying again, like so many years later fall, he knows like she could just be like, who the hell do you know what I mean?

Caily 1:01:31

Yes, yes. The, the timeframe makes the buildup and the agony part of things so much more poignant and intense. There's so much more tension here. And the question of constancy, right? He said can resentful. I've been, but never in constant. This is really the first time we know this. Um, because obviously he proposes to Anne she's. She knows she loves him. She's persuaded out of accepting him. But then she, she is constant to him. After that she has a marriage proposal from her sister's husband. She has Mr. Elliot pursuing her and the whole time, she always knows that she loves Wentworth and she doesn't accept the marriage proposal. And so her constancy is always there. We see how much pain she goes through seeing him flirting with, Louisa Musgrave. And we hear him say how much her appearance has altered. And so there are all these hints that he doesn't care about her anymore. He doesn't even really directly talk to her. And so this is the first time that you realise how he has held the torch for her this entire time. And it's all, it's, it's all a reaction to this conversation that Ann has with captain. Harville where they talk about men and women and attachment styles. And Ann has this really beautiful line that says all the privilege I came, I claim for my own sex. And it's not a very enviable one. You need not covet. It is that of loving longest when existence or one hope has gone. So she's basically saying, I, I know that men can form strong attachments, but women love longer when, when, when all the all hope is gone. And so this letter is a reaction to that conversation. And I think the letter two just shows how well he knows her. He says, you sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. And then I just love the line too, when he says for you alone, I think in plan

Izzy 1:03:51

I know there's something so timeless about our relationship, because he got to know her character when they were younger in eight and a half years past. And he still knows all those small little nuances about her character. He's like, oh, this is how your voice will be on the certain things is a bit like when she says like, oh, you still into music. Like they've just held on to it for so long it's as if no time has passed, or, yeah.

Caily 1:04:22

And it's such a, it's such a validating experience as a reader to see that happen to an, to, to see someone focus so much on her and know her so well, because she's lived in this environment with where her father and sister and so many people have just ignored her. And she's kind of been in the background, you know, she'll be playing the piano or she'll be the quiet one in the room while other people take up the attention in space. And so the fact that she's the focus of his attention, even though she's normally so quiet

Izzy 1:04:57

Right? No, that's such a good point. And the fact that he was that she would have such an effect on him that he would never lose his love for her, I think is another real Testament on, because I think a lot of people assume she's forgetful, like a lot of the other characters. They think that she's somebody that's easily, easily pushed aside. And I think the fact that when with of all people should always love her and always remember her is a real Testament to that. She's actually a really great person.

Caily 1:05:32

Yes. And it's the first time it's directly said, right? We have all of these, these hints that he cares like that amazing carriage scene where he anticipates her getting, being tired and makes sure she gets into the carriage. There are so many scenes like when Louis the falls. And he says, I only respect that Ann can handle this. Like I trust that Anne will be able to take care of this. You see all of these moments where he's focused on her, but it's the first time it's directly said, like, I have loved you all this time and I want to be with you.

Izzy 1:06:09

Yeah. That's so true. Honestly, I just love it so much. I just, oh, I just think as well, it just makes it so different from some of the other novels because they're, we obviously see them later. They've already fallen in love and we're just waiting for them to be honest about it again, like that's literally what the book's about. It's hoping that it's still the case that they still both live each other, but also just waiting on, on them when they can be open about that. And I just loved that. Went with does that in a latter, because I think that really speaks to their relationship as well. It is one is a subtle love. It's something that's quiet. It's very private. And I think there could have been no better way for him to declare his feelings than an Alexa, because I just think that's so intimate.

Caily 1:06:55

Yes. I completely agree with you. And one amazing thing that I found out from reading, I would, I would suggest anyone read this article. It's called letters within Jane Austen's novels of bridge toward romantic communication by Mary Butler. What I found out was that originally Jane Austen had a different ending and the ending of persuasion did not include this letter or written originally captain Wentworth was supposed to, he was commissioned to announce via a letter, the engagement of, and, and Mr.Elliott. And then Anne had to go to him and be like, I'm not marrying him, but that would have completely changed the ending. So imagine the world not having this beautiful letter, but yeah, this letter.

Izzy 1:07:46

I never knew that that's amazing. Oh my goodness. Oh my God. I'm so glad she did it in a letter. It makes so much more sense for that relationship. Also, I think it had to be him to speak for us. I feel like Anna's being so strong. She's so strong for out the novel. Considering he, he is a bit bitter about everything and she really just holds her own and she kind of enjoys it just because she's like, it's not unfounded. Like I did hurt this person. And I think it has to be him to break fast and just be like, actually, I still love you. I still have feelings for you. I want to be with you.

Caily 1:08:25

I completely agree. I think, I think it had to be him to break the ice in that way. And I think the letter was just perfect and I love the line right after that's such a letter was not to be soon recovered from.

Izzy 1:08:43

I’m actually wrote that down too, literally, we all feel that way the entire day night communities, like we will never recover from this letter.

Caily 1:08:52

I am half agony, half hope you pierced my soul. And it's just so dramatic to the final sentence. A word, a look will be enough to decide whether I enter your father's house this evening or never.

Izzy 1:09:07

Yeah. Yeah. I love that. He adds a look in there as well, because I think again, not that really speaks to our relationship. A lot of it has been those silent moments. The eye contact, the kind of hidden messages between the in like normal conversation. And you it's like you're in on the secret that none of the other characters are.

Caily 1:09:29

Yes. And that's why it's almost, it's fitting that it's a letter. It's something that's so intimate between the two of them. And you just see it unfolding in these small moments. And so it's fitting that the declaration is also covert and very intimate little letter.

Izzy 1:09:48

I need to take like some time to think about this, but she's never given the time, like somebody breaks that time, like straight away. I think like it's Charles and Mary, Mary got Lord Mary he's, Charles and Mary. And they break that silence for it, like in like 10 minutes time or something. And I just think that's so true. Like the world is so busy thinking about themselves, that it's just amazing that they can have this lecture and have this conversation with anyone else marrying. And yet it's so, still so powerful. Like it's just between the two of them it's as if no one else is in the room.

Caily 1:10:21

The fact that this letter is so powerful and poignant and really known as Jane Austen's best love letter, but it's also in comparison to so many of the other formative letters. It's very short. Each line is so powerful for how short the letter is.

Izzy 1:10:39

Yeah. I mean, he writes it really quickly. I'm like, he's like she, that just like scribbling away. Cause he knows he's got to go in. I mean, Christ, you can write stuff like this just by scribbling down the lines down and it's this masterpiece come on.

Caily 1:10:59

Oh my gosh.

Izzy 1:11:02

Gosh. He's funny. Wentworth’s friend? She's a poet. What's his name? Is it, is it Bennett? Bennett? Yeah. Cuts in bed. Like we think he's the poet, but he's actually went like, look at this like two minutes writing a letter and he writes that.

Caily 1:11:19

Can you imagine, can you imagine writing something like that when people are around and he stopped in Florida? Yeah. Unbelievable.

Izzy 1:11:28

It's pretty amazing. Honestly. They're funny. So anything else you want to say on the persuasion letter?

Caily 1:11:35

I just think it's interesting how with PR with Mr. Darcy's letter and, and this letter from captain Wentworth, the letter comes in the form of an apology, but also a declaration it's it's redemption. It's an apology and it's redemption. And I just saw the connection between those two.

Izzy 1:11:59

Yeah. I love that. No, absolutely. It's really true. I think the men are good at writing letters and Jane Austen's novels apart from Mr. Collins, he needs to stop pricing lessons. He's the next let's get on the list is Willoughby's letter to Maryanne in sense and sensibility. So we have talked about this letter quite a bit in some of your other episodes. It's such an interesting one at the end of the day, will it be actually isn't the author? It turns out of this latter, even though he is kind of the ones that rewrites out and send it to Maryanne. So yeah. Do you want to start with your thoughts on this one?

Caily 1:12:39

Well, I would say that this letter, just like we talked about pride and prejudice and in persuasion, the letters from Darcy and Wentworth make the relationship, they move the relationship forward. And then this is an example of how this letter finally breaks the relationship. It's the complete opposite. And yeah, I think it's a very good point that you bring up that Willoughby's not the author of the letter, but when we first read it, we don't know that. And so just the level of betrayal in this letter, it's just a perfect example of the term gaslighting. You know, I think about the part of the letter where he says I'm quite at a loss to discover. In what point I could be so unfortunate as to offend you. It was perfectly unintentional.

Izzy 1:13:30

Oh my God

Caily 1:13:32

Everything he's done after everything they've been through, he leaves her, they haven't seen each other. He's ignored all of her letters. And then he acts like, oh, I don't know how you possibly could have been hurt by this, my esteem for your whole, family's very sincere that I should ever have meant more. You will allow to be impossible when you understand that my affections have been long engaged elsewhere,.

Izzy 1:14:03

That he totally that reverse it. He's like, here's the look of hair back that you bestowed upon me. Like if it was all Maryanne and it's honestly blows my mind, I don't understand how anybody could have made any of this up. Do you know what I mean? Like how could have been so wrong? So like you want just give somebody a lock of your hair and then just keep it if they didn't want it, they'd be like, what's this, why are you giving me this? You wanna keep it with them? And also I'm just like, that would be really uncommon as well. Surely like usually they put it for you don't they it's like part of the, the kind of intimate action between not, this is like them taking a piece of you. It's not something that woman's just like, oh, have a bit of my hair. Why not? You know, I just think it's so it makes absolutely no sense to the, to the point where it's like almost humorous, because it's like, like, this is one of the worst letters ever. It, has no depth, no honesty. It's just awful. Basically. It's like something that someone would write when they were like really, really like peed off with you. And they wanted to just like hurt your feelings.

Caily 1:15:20

Completely. It is not it. Yes. So it's, it's definitely, I am being cruel. I want to hurt your feelings, but also there's this level of detachment and oh, I don't know what you're talking about. How could you be hurt? I didn't do anything wrong. I don't that the pretending like he doesn't understand exactly what he's done is just so horrific. And I agree with you the lock of hair part, which you, so obligingly bestowed on me. It, he's acting like she threw the lock of hair at him when we've already talked about this in another episode. But when, if you actually go back to that scene, it's from Margaret's perspective of him begging Maryanne for the lack of care. And it's this very intimate moment between the two of them. And so the fact that everything is twisted and turned around, you just feel so badly for Marianne, especially because I would say of all of the novels, maybe Jane and Mr. Bingleys on par with this, but Marianne and Willoughby's relationship was so publicised. And so many people were talking openly about how they were going to become engaged and she had visited his house. And so just the fact that this relationship is so public and people assumed that they were engaged and people saw that Marianne was writing him letters. I think that adds to the pain and then to receive this letter denying any kind of attachment just makes it so much more hurtful.

Izzy 1:16:56

Oh God, that's such a good point. Like it just leaves all of it on her.

Caily 1:17:00

And one thing that comes to me right now is part of letter writing is so intimate and you really see the character of the person writing it and see their and their experience. And maybe part of the reason why it never feels like there's full closure with Marianne and Willoughby is because the letter that he writes is not actually his, it's not actually his perspective. So we get a little bit of knowing where he's coming from in his conversation with Eleanor, but we never get to see what he would say in a letter directly to Marianne.

Izzy 1:17:32

Right. That's so true is what makes it so much worse when he comes back. And he's like, I didn't write the letter. I never would have said that. And he basically makes the distill have feelings, Marianne that just makes it so much worse, but also it just shows the weakness in his character that he should let this woman cause basically what happened is, is Ms. Gray. She writes the letter out and then he rewrites, I believe, just copying what she's she's written. And then that's the, I believe that's what happens. That's the letter that he ends up sending. So he's not his words at all. Or she dictates it to him or something along those lines. And I just think what a horrible way to end, even though they, their relationship was like naive and a bit daft and kind of inappropriate in a lot of ways. It, it was still kind of true and like such like a young love fun thing I think is such an awful way to end it. And it has to be somebody else's words, to kind of shutter Maryanne's perception on love.

Caily 1:18:37

Yes. And I think another thing to add too is, and Mary Butler's article talks about this a lot is another reason why it's so damaging to Marianne is because there were a societal norms and rules for how letter writing should go. And Jane Jane Austen kind of bypasses this which is really interesting and formative for her stories, but there was this guidebook for propriety called the ladies preceptor. And it talked about what was appropriate for letter writing. And, and in that day and age, Emma kind of highlights this, but letters were supposed to be written to show your character for entertainment to give updates and letters were actually supposed to be more public. So when Mrs. Bates is sharing the contents of letters from Jane Fairfax, or when Mr. Weston is reading Frank Churchill's letter at the Christmas party, that was pretty normal, that letters were expected to be read and shared with the community. And so the fact that they're all of these covert letters and the fact that Marianne has been writing to Willoughby that is very publicly known by people. And so the fact that she would get one back minimising their relationship, really the rules were, if you were a woman, you were only supposed to write letters to other women until you were engaged or married, there were all of these social conventions. And so it was considered much more intimate for that time for men and women to be writing letters to one another. And so I think it adds so much more meaning, and it adds so much more hurt and disgrace for Marianne that after having this intimate connection with Willoughby and writing him, all of these letters that she's shut down and disgraced.

Izzy 1:20:28

Yeah, absolutely. And so all could, like you said, for, for it to be such a public relationship to then end this way that it's, so it's just like this letter and it's only since Marianne, it all falls on her shoulders to kind of rectify it in society. Like the whole of society thinks there's something between them in. So now it falls on her is basically her pain. That's then got to show everybody that that's no longer the case. He falls on her to sell all of her friends and family that then no, there's nothing between them anymore. And I just think that's a lot of pressure to put on somebody, especially cause she is quite young in the, in the novel it's, she's got to deal with it herself. And then she's also got to basically broadcast it or cast her pain and also the humiliation because of the way that he's done it. It's not as if he says it's not as if she can see, like, I just, I obviously I'm not wealthy enough, unfortunately, like he's he asked to marry somebody else. And he apologises that, that he would have liked marry, but he couldn't it's that he's being, he's just being like awful and she's gotta to be like, what did he say? Well, if he said that there was actually nothing between us, do you know what I mean? It's such an old, but things have to expose.

Caily 1:21:37

Exactly the fact that it's her burden to have to tell everyone that, but then she also has to endure people's speculations about it too, like Mrs. Jennings saying, oh, I'm going to visit you at your house with Willoughby. And the fact that Mrs. Jennings thinks because of the way that she sees Marianne communicating with him, the fact that she thinks that they're already engaged in Mariana and up sharing, oh, guess what? We're not engaged also. He's marrying someone else. Yeah.

Izzy 1:22:07

It's just so uncomfortable. I think that's all the letters that we wanted to cover in this episode. Is there any final thoughts for me, Caily?

Caily 1:22:17

No. I just absolutely loved looking at the novels again through this new lens of focusing specifically on the letters. And I just think the letters are so important to the movement of the novels and Jane Austen writes them in such a poignant way. So I'm glad we have them.

Izzy 1:22:37

No, I've really enjoyed this episode. It's been really good. I'll attach that article you're referring to, into like the bio section as well, because I think that's a good read, especially if you're, if you've enjoyed this episode and you liked the conversation that the letters and that's probably a good next step. Have a look in that and yeah. So thanks for joining me, Caily, I've enjoyed it as always. And I will leave all your information below. Do you want to just remind people where they can find you.

Caily 1:23:03

Sure I'm on Instagram? My handle is half_agony_half_hope and I post a lot of Jane Austen quotes and just other quotes from authors in literature and psychology that I love. So thanks so much for having me as always. I love being on episodes with you and it's so much fun to talk this all through.

Izzy 1:23:29

Absolutely. We'll see you guys. And the next time.

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