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.”
X is for seX
“To Mr. Darcy it was welcome intelligence–Elizabeth had been at Netherfield long enough. She attracted him more than he liked –” –Jane Austen Pride & Prejudice
I know I’m cheating by using the X at the end of the word. I also know I’m cheating because there is no ‘sex’ in Pride & Prejudice. Technically, the word SEX is in the novel six times. Of course Jane Austen used it to describe gender, but hey…I’m no monument to justice (Moonstruck reference).
One thing I love so much about Pride & Prejudice is that no sex is necessary to carry off the romantic story. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy a well written romp as much as anyone, but this book has stood the test of time without it. Besides, I know there is sex happening in the story. Come on. The Bennets have five daughters. There had to be something going on behind the scenes…at least at Longbourne. And…just what do we think Lydia and Wickham were doing holed up in London? I doubt they were playing cards.
Just because we don’t get any graphic details it doesn’t mean that Jane Austen deprives us of sexual tension. From the very beginning of seeing Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth found him attractive – yet rude. Though he wasn’t moved upon first seeing her, the more Darcy was in Elizabeth’s company the more he found her to have “fine eyes.” At a gathering early in the story Jane Austen describes the growing feelings Darcy has for Elizabeth.
“Occupied in observing Mr. Bingley’s attentions to her sister, Elizabeth was far from suspecting that she was herself becoming an object of some interest in the eyes of his friend. Mr. Darcy had at first scarcely allowed her to be pretty; he had looked at her without admiration at the ball; and when they next met, he looked at her only to criticize. But no sooner had he made it clear to himself and his friends that she had hardly a good feature in her face, than he began to find it was rendered uncommonly intelligent by the beautiful expression of her dark eyes. To this discovery succeeded some others equally mortifying. Though he had detected with a critical eye more than one failure of perfect symmetry in her form, he was forced to acknowledge her figure to be light and pleasing; and in spite of his asserting that her manners were not those of the fashionable world, he was caught by their easy playfulness. Of this she was perfectly unaware;–to her he was only the man who made himself agreeable nowhere, and who had not thought her handsome enough to dance with.
He began to wish to know more of her, and as a step towards conversing with her himself, attended to her conversation with others.”
Uhmm…Darcy is in REAL trouble.
Later when he can deny his feelings no longer his proposal, though full of anger, was also full of passion. That opening line lays it all on the table. “In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”
Elizabeth takes longer to come around, but after reading his letter her coldness towards him begins to melt. At Pemberly she stares longingly at Darcy’s smiling portrait and then enjoys seeing him in person. When she finally has forgiven all his misdeeds, she is eager for reconciliation. At Longbourne, near the end of the story, Darcy accompanies Bingley on his visit to see Jane. Elizabeth is beside herself with her want for Darcy.
“Darcy had walked away to another part of the room. She followed him with her eyes, envied every one to whom he spoke, had scarcely patience enough to help anybody to coffee, and then was enraged against herself for being so silly!
‘A man who has once been refused! How could I ever be foolish enough to expect a renewal of his love? Is there one among the sex who would not protest against such a weakness as a second proposal to the same woman? There is no indignity so abhorrent to their feelings!”
It is these moments, these subtle gems thrown in on occasion that are the real passion in the story. Jane Austen didn’t need to be explicit. The flames of the sexual tension are so hot, who needs a wild romp? Maybe I should have titled this post:
My A to Z of Pride and Prejudice – Letter X is for lack of X-Rating!