The April A to Z Blogging Challenge is where a few thousand bloggers post every day of the month (except Sundays) using a different letter of the alphabet. My theme is: “What I Love About Pride and Prejudice.”
T is for Travel
“Where there is fortune to make the expense of traveling unimportant, distance becomes no evil.” –Jane Austen Pride & Prejudice
While most of Pride & Prejudice takes place in and around the village of Meryton, travel plays an important part of the story. When Jane Austen was alive, travel of a real distance meant taking a horse and carriage. It took a long time to go even the distance of thirty miles in a slow moving carriage, so people tended to stay put. This means that any traveling done in the writing must be significant to the story.
Of the Bennet girls, Jane is the first to go anywhere in the book. She leaves Longbourne with her Uncle and Aunt Gardiner to stay at their home in London for an extended visit. During this time Jane tries to further her acquaintance with Caroline Bingley. She learns once and for all that Charles Bingley’s sisters are not her friends and is led to believe that Mr. Bingley has no feelings for her.
While Jane is away, Elizabeth travels to spend some weeks with her friend Charlotte and Charlotte’s new husband, Mr. Collins. There she’s exposed to the domineering Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Mr. Darcy’s aunt, and again is forced into the company of Mr. Darcy. It is during this trip that Mr. Darcy botches up a proposal of marriage to Elizabeth. She also learns the truth about the man she considered a family friend. Mr. Wickham is not the gallant figure he seems, though she is duty bound not to expose him.
After Elizabeth comes home, it is Lydia’s turn to leave Longbourne. She hopes to follow the officers to Brighton under the guise of spending time with her friend. Even though Elizabeth begs her father not to let her go, Mr. Bennet would rather not have Lydia moping within earshot. He doesn’t heed Elizabeth’s advice. The youngest Bennet goes off to sow her oats.
It’s then Elizabeth’s turn to travel with her Uncle and Aunt. They’re supposed to spend time in the lake country, but decide to take a shorter trip to Derbyshire where Mrs. Gardiner spent her youth. This is where Mr. Darcy’s estate, Pemberly, is located. Of course, the travelers run into Mr. Darcy. He is so changed from the arrogant man she knew in Meryton, that Elizabeth has a hard time reconciling this person with who he used to be. He even takes delight in introducing her to his sister. Everything begins to point towards a happy ending when Elizabeth receives word that Lydia has run off with Wickham while staying in Brighton. Elizabeth leaves Darcy fearing that the ruin her sister is facing blemishes the rest of the family. She is certain Mr. Darcy will have no further use for her.
The travel that Jane Austen used in Pride & Prejudice was not just a change of scenery because she was bored with Meryton. Travel is like the journey that every protagonist takes throughout a story. They have to change to grow. The story of Elizabeth, Mr. Darcy and all the supporting characters grow as they make their journeys.
What are you thoughts on travel in Pride & Prejudice? Others, besides the Bennets and travel throughout the story. Do these other journeys have as much to bear on the story as those of the three Bennet girls?