March Mix- Spring brings new life

Please forgive me for not posting last week. I was stranded out of state, and while I had my computer, I did not have much time. I’ll save my thoughts on fortune and luck in Austen for a later date. Today, I wanted to discuss the imagery of new life in spring.

This sort of device is a favorite amongst literature teachers, and I confess I am convinced they often see more to books than the author intended. Likewise, I might run that risk in this post, but I think it’s an interesting exercise nonetheless.


Elizabeth Bennet arrives in Kent in the early weeks of March. While we’re told Rosings’ park is quite beautiful, and Elizabeth enjoys walking, it still would have been devoid of Spring. Trees would not have budded, grass would not be green, and flowers were not blooming. If we compare that to Elizabeth’s story arc, we can see some similarities.

If we compare that to Elizabeth’s story arc, we can see some similarities. The excitement of the new neighbors and the Militia are over. Elizabeth sees Wickham give attentions to another lady and then she leaves the area for several weeks all without so much as a sigh of longing. Jane, we know, is depressed. She has not forgotten Bingley and the touch of winter his departure brought on their lives lingers. Darcy, likewise, remains prevalent in Elizabeth’s mind. When she hears of his coming to Rosings, she actually looks forward to the entertainment.

Elizabeth had heard soon after her arrival that Mr. Darcy was expected there in the course of a few weeks, and though there were not many of her acquaintances whom she did not prefer, his coming would furnish one comparatively new to look at in their Rosings parties, and she might be amused in seeing how hopeless Miss Bingley’s designs on him were, by his behaviour to his cousin, for whom he was evidently destined by Lady Catherine, who talked of his coming with the greatest satisfaction, spoke of him in terms of the highest admiration, and seemed almost angry to find that he had already been frequently seen by Miss Lucas and herself. -Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 30.

Upon his arrival, he calls immediately on the Parsonage, shocking Charlotte so much as to believe it due to Elizabeth. As time goes on, Charlotte thinks Darcy in love with her friend. Indeed, in his haphazard and awkward way, he did attempt to court Elizabeth as they walked amongst the grove and he called nearly daily on the Parsonage. However, like a new bloom is susceptible to frost, Darcy’s courtship is destroyed by an untimely conversation between Colonel Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth.

Darcy, unaware that his position is weakened and he has waited so long in displaying any affection toward Elizabeth she instead has different impressions of him, he offers a wilting bouquet to Elizabeth. Unimpressed, she unequivocally refuses him. And like a child watching leaves fall from a tree, readers have to wonder if any good can come of such a death to something that promised beauty. Indeed, like a tree survives winter by dropping its leaves and drawing in its resources, Darcy writes a heartfelt, bittersweet letter and disappears, presumably forever.

However, Spring restores life. The morning after Darcy’s proposal, Elizabeth notes, for the first time, the change of scenery.

After walking two or three times along that part of the lane, she was tempted, by the pleasantness of the morning, to stop at the gates and look into the park. The five weeks which she had now passed in Kent had made a great difference in the country, and every day was adding to the verdure of the early trees. -Pride and Prejudice,  Chapter 35.

Upon reading Darcy’s letter, Elizabeth first refuses to believe any part of it. In the midst of winter, it often feels as though Spring will never return and that the earth now covered in snow and frozen ground will one day bring forth beauty. Like a determined seed, Elizabeth’s sense of justice permeates her cloud of anger and hurt just enough to allow that there was some merit in Darcy’s perception of Jane’s behavior. From there, a ray of light shines on the seed when she accepts the truth of Wickham. Daily, she watered the seed.

Mr. Darcy’s letter she was in a fair way of soon knowing by heart. She studied every sentence; and her feelings towards its writer were at times widely different. -Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 37.

The seed was not love for Darcy. No, it was herself. Would she grow from this encounter? Could she bloom and treat him with respect if they ever met again? Could she show her humility and swallow her pride? Elizabeth was tested when she saw Darcy again at Pemberley. Having passed that test, next came the disaster with Lydia. Now, Elizabeth must wonder if Darcy was honorable enough to continue to love her or if her old opinions about his pride were real. By this time, however, her roots had grown strong, and while there might be storms and pests, she was not so hasty in her assumptions.

By this period, however, her roots had become strong, and while there might be storms and pests, she was not so hasty in her assumptions. She no longer leaped to conclusions based on Darcy’s actions or inactions. Instead, she did what was probably the hardest for her to do, and that was waiting. At just the right time, she was given the opportunity to speak with him, and then the whole truth came out from his lips, and she no longer had to guess. In short, she bloomed and matured, wowing the world with her beauty.

When discussing poetry, Elizabeth declares bad poetry can drive away love while Darcy says he had thought it the food of love. Elizabeth replies:

“Of a fine, stout, healthy love it may. Everything nourishes what is strong already. But if it be only a slight, thin sort of inclination, I am convinced that one good sonnet will starve it entirely away.”

Certainly, Darcy and Elizabeth’s love ends up being more than a slight inclination and their trials nourish it. So, too, Elizabeth’s new understanding of herself and the world is not a mere changing over of leaves and many a storm sustains it for it was built upon strong understanding. A stark contrast to this is Lydia. She never changes in the novel. Her situation changes from carefree to wayward and

So, too, Elizabeth’s new understanding of herself and the world is not a mere changing over of leaves and many a storm nourishes it for it was built upon strong understanding. A stark contrast to this is Lydia. She never changes in the novel. Her situation changes from carefree to wayward and disreputible daughter to properly wed and yet her behavior and understanding of the world never alters. And certainly as was common in poetry and prose of the era, the troubled youth might have become the image of morality. Perhaps if she had not been found by Darcy and had been tossed aside by Wickham or paid some punishment for her behavior she would have bloomed differently. Instead, “the sonnet,” saving her from a terrible fate, seems to be what killed her chance of ever becoming more.


In conclusion, as the timeline of Pride and Prejudice spans a year, traits of each season reflect in the plot. The meat of the story which sees the biggest character growth and revolution occurs during Spring. Whether it was by happy accident or intent on Austen’s behalf, we cannot know. For myself, I’m inclined to believe Austen chose the setting on purpose. What do you think?

For the poll, where should Darcy propose?

  1. At the Parsonage
  2. At Rosings
  3. On a walk
  4. Not in Kent

March Mix- Spring in Pride and Prejudice


Jane Austen wrote at the beginning of the Romantic era. That doesn’t mean lovey-dovey romance. Here is the definition from Wikipedia: The Romantic Period was an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement that originated in Europe toward the end of the 18th century and in most areas was at its peak in the approximate period from 1800 to 1850. Romanticism was characterized by its emphasis on emotion and individualism as well as glorification of all the past and nature, preferring the medieval rather than the classical.

In literature of the era, one often finds nature personified. Poets write about its beauty and truth. They found human nature reflected in mother nature. Novelists used weather almost as a character that could control the direction of a story. It had other uses as plot devices, such as a storm might foreshadow a turbulent event for the protagonist. Characters are free in their emotions with no veil between them and the reader.


However, Jane Austen remains entrenched in logical realism. The hopeless longing many a JAFF writer have attributed to Mr. Darcy never shows up on the pages of Pride and Prejudice. We are told only that Elizabeth spends several hours awake trying to determine her feelings toward Mr. Darcy, we are not treated to a chapter of her conflicted emotions. So too, Austen’s writings about nature are different than the Romantics.

When Anne de Bourgh, Mr. Darcy’s intended, calls outside of Mr. Collins’ parsonage while Elizabeth Bennet is visiting, it is quite windy, and Elizabeth observes, “She [Miss de Bourgh] is abominably rude to keep Charlotte out of doors in all this wind. Why does she not come in?”


The Romantic author would use this as a device later. A likely scenario would be Darcy and Elizabeth are to wed, but the sickly Anne announces she has a prior claim to Darcy and like a tornado wreaks havoc on our lovers’ destiny. Although Anne’s mother, Lady Catherine, arrives to make such claims they hold no weight and instead of creating an obstacle bring Darcy back to Longbourn and is the means of uniting them.

When first approaching Rosings, the weather is fine and the park pleasant. There is nothing there to intimidate Elizabeth or foreshadow the great lady’s future meddling.

Soon after arriving in Kent, Elizabeth finds a favorite sheltered walk which she imagines puts her beyond the reach of Lady Catherine’s curiosity. However, Darcy soon finds her and approaches her several time while on the walk. Yet, it is not in the secret hangings of trees blooming in early spring where he proposes to her, but instead in Mrs. Collins’ parlor. Their love is not like a frail bud that one early frost may kill. Nor does it signal the end to a long winter and is met with smiles. Instead, Darcy’s first proposal is in a place where public appearance and civility are at its height. Darcy insults Elizabeth during the proposal. However, his words might be accepted as deserved due to Society’s values. Meanwhile, he calls Elizabeth’s rejection uncivil because it was direct and not full of useless flattery. His second proposal is out of doors and accepted, however, we know nothing of the scenery. Indeed, they walk on without knowing what is around them.

lizzy almost kisses darcy

In conclusion, we learn nothing new or revolutionary from Spring in Pride and Prejudice. It is no doubt, one of the reasons Charlotte Bronte said this of the book, “I got the book and studied it. And what did I find? An accurate daguerreotyped portrait of a common-place face; a carefully fenced, highly cultivated garden, with neat borders and delicate flowers—but no glance of a bright vivid physiognomy—no open country—no fresh air—no blue hill—no bonny beck. I should hardly like to live with her ladies and gentlemen in their elegant but confined houses. These observations will probably irritate you, but I shall run the risk.”

It’s interesting then that the two most recent adaptations of Pride and Prejudice feature many outdoor scenes. Whether it’s Lizzy running in the open country, walking in manicured hedges around Longbourn or proposals in the rain, nature provides a heavier setting in the films than it does in the book. For better or worse, the more melodramatic Romantic era casts a shade even on how we interpret Jane Austen’s works of classical realism.

Next week I’ll discuss the idea of luck and fortune in Austen’s works in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Help me write a Spring short story! Choose from the following weather issues:

Rainstorm with hail

Flash flood

Late snowstorm

Heavy pollen

*While looking for the quote by Charlotte Bronte, I stumbled across this blog which I think further explains the issue of looking at Austen through Romantic eyes.

Charlotte Bronte v. Jane Austen

Last week’s post at Austen Authors: March Mix- In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb