The Anxieties and “Felicities of Rapid Motion”: Animated Ideology in Pride and Prejudice

  • Jillian Heydt-Stevenson

Abstract

Pride and Prejudice’s kinetic energy resists its evocation of an idyllic society at the height of a calm, country perfection; everyone in this novel is physically, and often extravagantly in motion: fleeing to London, scurrying to Brighton, flying from Pemberley or hastening toward it. Elizabeth remarks that “people themselves alter so much, that there is something new to be observed in them for ever” (43). Even so fundamental a fact as the population of local society fluctuates as the news about Bingley’s number of guests varies wildly; and rumors speed through the town as it alters its opinions about Darcy (9–13). Motion propels marriage and generation. The subject of balls “always makes a lady energetic” (24): “to be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love” (9). Bingley boasts that his “ideas flow so rapidly that [he has] not time to express them” (48). The brisk Mr. Collins means to find a bride during a visit of only one week—and he succeeds. Darcy’s own restless evolutions drive him to change his mind in favor of Elizabeth just as he has decided against her (26), though a moment later he accuses Caroline of jumping to conclusions when he charges that “a lady’s imagination is very rapid” in marching toward thoughts of matrimony (27). Elizabeth’s own busy mind works dynamically, as when conjectures, “rapid and wild,” about the reason why Darcy attended Lydia’s wedding were “hurried into her brain” (320).

Keywords

Fatigue Straw Dine Stake Heroine 

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Copyright information

© Jillian Heydt-Stevenson 2005

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  • Jillian Heydt-Stevenson

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