Waiting in the Wings

Waiting in the Wings - Waiting in the Wings Cast into a...

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Waiting in the Wings Cast into a family where she is not needed, the lone plain Miss Bennet is condemned to wait her turn to be the lead. As she is the third child, each parent already has a stubborn favorite and the two sisters already have a close bond, which cannot be intruded upon. Her intelligence is not flashy enough to invoke interest in her father and her humour is not showy enough to gain her mother’s fancy. She is pushed to the back of everyone’s mind until she attempts to conquer center stage; then she must be shunned back to the wings. The narrator of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice encourages us to ignore her, but Mary is worth so much more. Even the narrator speaks in a style which only marks Mary’s presence while waiting for something more interesting to happen, if she is mentioned at all. In Chapter 56, her existence is forgotten entirely. The narrator states that Bingley “and the females of the family were sitting together in the breakfast-room” (Austen 253). But, after the exit of only Mr. Bingley and Jane, “the remaining three” (Austen 253) who are mentioned by the names of Mrs. Bennet, Kitty, and Elizabeth, are left to greet their unexpected guest. Even I, a frequent reader of the book, did not (except on extremely close read) notice Mary’s disappearance, because she is cast out of our thoughts by the excitement of the pyrotechnics of Lady Catharine de Bourgh’s grand entrance. Furthermore, the narrator, through her style, hushes Mary up when she is saying something of importance to the narrator’s point. If any speech could sum up a primary idea of the book, it would be Mary’s when she says as early as Chapter 5, “Pride…is a very common failing, I believe. By all that I have ever read, I am convinced that it is very common indeed; that human nature is particularly prone to it, and that there are very few of us who do not cherish a feeling of self- 3
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complacency on the score of some quality or the other, real or imaginary.” (Austen 15) But, she is quickly upstaged from these lessons by “a young Lucas,” who is never even
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This note was uploaded on 04/27/2008 for the course FS 101 taught by Professor Hutchinson during the Spring '08 term at Simons Rock.

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Waiting in the Wings - Waiting in the Wings Cast into a...

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