The April A to Z Blogging Challenge is a month-long event where I, and more than 2000 other bloggers, will post every day of the month (except Sundays) using a different letter of the alphabet. The theme of my posts will be “What I Love About Pride and Prejudice.” Click the link above or the A to Z badge in my sidebar to visit other participants.
O is for Officers
“I remember the time when I liked a red coat myself very well—and indeed, so I do still at my heart…” –Jane Austen Pride & Prejudice
The militia, during the Regency period, was a reserve troop of soldiers. It was their job to defend the country should France invade England. At the time Jane Austen wrote Pride & Prejudice, the Napoleonic Wars were in full swing and a threat was a realistic possibility.
Though the officers of the militia were not regular or full time military men, they were considered real patriots to their country. People they met would have given them respect for their service. Since the regiment in the story was required to be in Meryton for the winter, the inclusion of the militia officers at parties and events would have been likely.
Not only did the officers do their duty, but they also provided all the Bennet girls, especially the two youngest, with plenty of dance partners. Lydia and Kitty Bennet walked to Meryton on a regular basis to flirt and gossip with the men. The girls became obsessed with the officers, causing Mr. Bennet to call his daughters silly while Mrs. Bennet couldn’t agree. Instead she reminisced about her own appreciation for a man in uniform.
When the regiment had to leave for Brighton, it hit all the Bennet females in a hard way. Elizabeth thoughts were, “parties abroad were less varied than before; and at home she had a mother and sister whose constant repinings at the dulness of everything around them, threw a real gloom over their domestic circle.” The officer’s presence in Meryton did not only make the surroundings safer, they made it more entertaining.
It was also because of the militia’s presence in Meryton that we are introduced to George Wickham. His storyline couldn’t have happened if the militia were stationed in another village. It is also because Lydia managed to snag an invitation to spend time in Brighton with the wife of the regiment’s colonel that she got to further her acquaintance (….) with this particular officer.
How important do you think the officers were to the story?