I mentioned in yesterday’s Music Monday post, that this week I wanted to explore Caroline’s jealousy of Elizabeth.
First, let’s break down the meaning of the word “jealous.” Merriam-Webster gives this definition:
hostile toward a rival or one believed to enjoy an advantage : envious
- His success made his old friends jealous.
- They were jealous of his success.
- 2 a : intolerant of rivalry or unfaithfulness
- jealous of the slightest interference in household management—Havelock Ellis
- 2b : disposed to suspect rivalry or unfaithfulness
3 : vigilant in guarding a possession
- new colonies were jealous of their new independence
Let us consider each situation. Did Caroline believe Elizabeth to be a rival for Mr. Darcy’s attention? Yes, and it wasn’t all in her head. He flat out told Caroline he found Elizabeth attractive. It must have been all the more shocking because mere days before he had said he didn’t find her pretty. Did Caroline believe Darcy was being unfaithful to her? Fanon often zeroes in on the fact that he was the unattached bachelor at Netherfield and she was the unattached maiden. Therefore, she had hopes that she would be his sole focus. Consider when Elizabeth is at Netherfield, she has intruded on Caroline’s territory! It might be one thing for Darcy to see Elizabeth now and then, but it is another thing entirely for Elizabeth to be around Darcy his every waking moment! Did Caroline view Darcy as her possession? Again, this goes with the idea that she ought to have been his sole focus, but I think so. Consider how she “guards” him at Netherfield. She has to be involved in his every conversation. She has to protect his interests–he doesn’t want to play cards so the card table is not presented. If he’s going to look at Elizabeth’s figure, then by golly, he’s going to have to look at Caroline’s too!
However, I think these definitions miss out on the root of the psychology behind jealousy. At the heart of jealousy, is believing that you should have everything the other has because you deserve it more. We could say it’s because the jealous individual believes they must have similarities with the other. For example, is Fanny Price ever jealous of Mary Crawford? I would say no. Fanny surely loves Edmund and would rather he love her instead of Mary, but Fanny feels no jealousy. Instead, all of her feelings are selflessly centered on the fact that Edmund is being duped by Mary and would ultimately live a very unhappy life with her. It follows then, that Caroline and Elizabeth must have similarities.
We begin with this description of Caroline:
They were in fact very fine ladies; not deficient in good humour when they were pleased, nor in the power of making themselves agreeable when they chose it, but proud and conceited. They were rather handsome, had been educated in one of the first private seminaries in town, had a fortune of twenty thousand pounds, were in the habit of spending more than they ought, and of associating with people of rank, and were therefore in every respect entitled to think well of themselves, and meanly of others. They were of a respectable family in the north of England; a circumstance more deeply impressed on their memories than that their brother’s fortune and their own had been acquired by trade.
We come to know Elizabeth throughout the book, not just in one quotable passage but there are things they are rather the opposite on. Elizabeth has not been educated in town, and she will only have fifty pounds a year upon the death of her mother. Given the opportunity to play cards at Netherfield, she declines because she thinks they are playing high. She doesn’t associate with people of rank. Her family is what would count as respectable but it is a mix of gentry and trade which would lower her esteem in the eyes of some.
What of some of the other points? Is Elizabeth deficient in good humor? No, she loves to laugh. In fact, she can fake being in a good mood even when she is not–such as nearly every encounter with Darcy, Caroline, Lady Catherine, Collins, and her mother. She can certainly be agreeable when she wants to be–which is nearly all the time (we’ll discuss that in another post). Is she proud and conceited? On first glance, no. However, I think a close reading of the book proves that she is. Is she entitled to think well of herself and meanly of others? Well, that’s a million dollar question, but she does think well of herself and meanly of others if not due to rank and income than due to her intellect.
We are given little physical description of either lady so we cannot compare them on that. We must suppose that Caroline is superior in the these areas, given her criticism of Elizabeth:
“For my own part,” she rejoined, “I must confess that I never could see any beauty in her. Her face is too thin; her complexion has no brilliancy; and her features are not at all handsome. Her nose wants character—there is nothing marked in its lines. Her teeth are tolerable, but not out of the common way; and as for her eyes, which have sometimes been called so fine, I could never see anything extraordinary in them. They have a sharp, shrewish look, which I do not like at all; and in her air altogether there is a self-sufficiency without fashion, which is intolerable.”
Add to this the infamous “accomplished ladies” speech:
“Oh! certainly,” cried his faithful assistant, “no one can be really esteemed accomplished who does not greatly surpass what is usually met with. A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half-deserved.”
We can safely assume that Caroline believes she must “greatly surpass what is usually met with” regarding her beauty. She clearly finds Elizabeth deficient in this department, therefore it must be a difference between them. But is it really?
Elizabeth, equally next to Jane in birth and beauty, succeeded her of course.
There is much reason to think that Elizabeth’s annoyance at Darcy is about his words in the well-known assembly slight.
“But there is one of her sisters sitting down just behind you, who is very pretty, and I dare say very agreeable. Do let me ask my partner to introduce you.”
“Which do you mean?” and turning round he looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till catching her eye, he withdrew his own and coldly said: “She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me;”
Elizabeth knows her beauty and, at first, laughs at Darcy for his proud ridiculousness. However, it is a sore spot with her. It’s not enough that the rest of the area finds her beautiful, she had wanted the important new-comers to find her pretty as well. Additionally, we cannot give Elizabeth the compliment of being kinder in her words than Caroline for she observes this of Anne de Bourgh:
“I like her appearance,” said Elizabeth, struck with other ideas. “She looks sickly and cross. Yes, she will do for him very well. She will make him a very proper wife.”
I consider this line a double whammy. One, Elizabeth is happy that Anne de Bourgh isn’t beautiful. Two, she is almost happy that she may not live long once married and would plague Darcy during her life. Compare this with Maria Lucas’ introduction of the topic:
Only look at her. She is quite a little creature. Who would have thought that she could be so thin and small?”
Maria is not being excessively kind but she does have a shred of sympathy and pity in her words.
Elizabeth’s greatest attribute is the “liveliness of her mind” exemplified by her vivacity and wit–of which even Mr. Collins speaks. However, Caroline is described as being witty and teasing as well.
He listened to her with perfect indifference while she chose to entertain herself in this manner; and as his composure convinced her that all was safe, her wit flowed long.
“Did you not think, Mr. Darcy, that I expressed myself uncommonly well just now, when I was teasing Colonel Forster to give us a ball at Meryton?”
“We can all plague and punish one another. Tease him—laugh at him. Intimate as you are, you must know how it is to be done.”
“But upon my honour, I do not. I do assure you that my intimacy has not yet taught me that. Tease calmness of manner and presence of mind! No, no; I feel he may defy us there. And as to laughter, we will not expose ourselves, if you please, by attempting to laugh without a subject. Mr. Darcy may hug himself.”
Mr. Darcy observes:
To Mr. Darcy it was welcome intelligence—Elizabeth had been at Netherfield long enough. She attracted him more than he liked—and Miss Bingley was uncivil to her, and more teasing than usual to himself.
Ah, perhaps that can help us finally hone in on the difference between Elizabeth and Caroline. Elizabeth gives her teasing with a kinder heart and motive. She says this after Darcy’s second proposal:
But make a virtue of it by all means. My good qualities are under your protection, and you are to exaggerate them as much as possible; and, in return, it belongs to me to find occasions for teasing and quarrelling with you as often as may be; and I shall begin directly by asking you what made you so unwilling to come to the point at last. What made you so shy of me, when you first called, and afterwards dined here? Why, especially, when you called, did you look as if you did not care about me?”
Whereas this is an example of Caroline’s method of teasing Darcy:
She often tried to provoke Darcy into disliking her guest, by talking of their supposed marriage, and planning his happiness in such an alliance.
Throughout the book, Caroline attempts to make Darcy see the drawbacks to a union with Elizabeth. The interesting thing is, however, that he might have never even considered her in such a way if not for her prodding. For, as we all know, admiration need not lead to love.
That Miss Bingley is jealous of Elizabeth, we know without a doubt.
Miss Bingley saw, or suspected enough to be jealous; and her great anxiety for the recovery of her dear friend Jane received some assistance from her desire of getting rid of Elizabeth.
This is further shown by Elizabeth’s observations:
Convinced as Elizabeth now was that Miss Bingley’s dislike of her had originated in jealousy, she could not help feeling how unwelcome her appearance at Pemberley must be to her, and was curious to know with how much civility on that lady’s side the acquaintance would now be renewed.
In no countenance was attentive curiosity so strongly marked as in Miss Bingley’s, in spite of the smiles which overspread her face whenever she spoke to one of its objects; for jealousy had not yet made her desperate, and her attentions to Mr. Darcy were by no means over.
By contrast, Elizabeth only seems to be jealous of earning Darcy’s good opinion:
She was humbled, she was grieved; she repented, though she hardly knew of what. She became jealous of his esteem, when she could no longer hope to be benefited by it. She wanted to hear of him, when there seemed the least chance of gaining intelligence. She was convinced that she could have been happy with him, when it was no longer likely they should meet.
At some point, Caroline’s feelings morph from jealousy to envy. Here is Merriam-Webster’s definition of envy:
1: painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage
2: obsolete : malice
3: an object of envious notice or feeling–his new car made him the envy of his friends
Let us review the meaning of malice:
I was unable to find when the meaning for “malice” became obsolete as a definition of envy. However, I wouldn’t say that Caroline’s actions are full of malice. She extremely dislikes Elizabeth and acts out of anger but she doesn’t harm Elizabeth. In fact, the things she says to wound Elizabeth in Darcy’s eyes are all rather just. Elizabeth does have low connections, and she isn’t the Society beauty and full of all their graces, she once favored Wickham. Still, Caroline seems to extend a more hateful feeling to Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship than mere jealousy.
Online Etymology Dictionary offers this information about envy:
late 13c., from Old French envie “envy, jealousy, rivalry” (10c.), from Latin invidia “envy, jealousy” (source also of Spanish envidia, Portuguese inveja), from invidus “envious, having hatred or ill-will,” from invidere “to envy, hate,” earlier “look at (with malice), cast an evil eye upon,” from in- “upon” (from PIE root *en “in”) + videre “to see” (from PIE root *weid- “to see”).
It also furthers the explanation with this difference between envy and jealousy:
Jealousy is the malign feeling which is often had toward a rival, or possible rival, for the possession of that which we greatly desire, as in love or ambition. Envy is a similar feeling toward one, whether rival or not, who already possesses that which we greatly desire. Jealousy is enmity prompted by fear; envy is enmity prompted by covetousness.
In short, Caroline begins to recognize that Darcy was never “hers” and he belongs to Elizabeth in an entirely different way. First, she was afraid to lose him. Then she recognized she had. In the end, that is the largest difference between Caroline and Elizabeth. One wished for Darcy’s attention and never really had it, the other had never asked for it and yet gained it. In the end, it seems Caroline adopted the policy of “if you can’t beat them, join them” for we are told she let go of her animosity toward Elizabeth. Indeed, I think she must have copied some of Elizabeth’s way of smiling when she would rather snark.
Miss Bingley was very deeply mortified by Darcy’s marriage; but as she thought it advisable to retain the right of visiting at Pemberley, she dropt all her resentment; was fonder than ever of Georgiana, almost as attentive to Darcy as heretofore, and paid off every arrear of civility to Elizabeth.
Have you ever related to Caroline and been jealous of another woman? Have you ever been envious?