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Talking Heads: A Dance of Two

An adaption of Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett’s first meeting in Pride and Prejudice

Mr Bingley: Once again I am blown away by the wonders and virtues life can bestow when residing in good company! Every young lady and noble man I have met this evening has surpassed my wildest expectations in beauty, good humour and learning! I must control the urge to let joy overtake my refinement, yet dancing remains a superb outlet to flaunt my passion and good mood! If only Darcy could experience such highs as I do in company such as this, or indeed in any company. He seems content to live his life as…

Mrs Bennet: … the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world! Lurking like a phantom on the fringe of the floor, eyeing everyone with that masked disdain! A gentleman indeed! He certainly has nothing in the way of looks, like that charming Mr Bingley! Rich, well-bred and as handsome as can be imagined! He is the inverse of Mr Darcy, who I despised the moment I set eyes on him! As for Mr Darcy’s rumoured wealth, let’s just say I’ve heard numerous sources denounce these claims as hollow and unfounded. Even if the man was as moneyed as the king, I would not have him consorting with my beautiful Jane, or Elizabeth, or even Mary! Wealth and high society don’t impress me! And lord knows lumpy old Mr Lucas would be better suited for my girls than miserable Darcy! Look how Lizzy sits there with no offer of dance from Mr Darcy… the poor girl is abandoned in cruel isolation, putting on a brave smile to mask her…

Elizabeth Bennet: …giddy happiness and joy! It’s delightful to see Jane with such a look on her face! Mr Bingley lights up something in her eyes, and she in his. It is to be expected: my sister is the handsomest woman of all among these rich and noble guests. It must be an affront to their sense of status… a middle-class Hertfordshire girl besting all their daughters for the affections of Mr Bingley, a gentleman to his very bones. The image in my mind of the faces of Mr and Mrs King as Bingley stole Jane for a second dance makes me wish to break down in laughter! Though I’ll wager any breach of social convention by laughter will be frowned upon by my company and I shall be mercifully lynched by my mother! So, I am compelled to control myself and laugh only within, which I have become very proficient in over the years.

If the high and mighty of the English upper class do not wish to be the subject of ridicule, then why do they live their lives in such an amusing fashion? I have seen poorer shows of comedy at paid venues than I have for free right in front of me! Mr Darcy is my main comic attraction. Stonyfaced, uncompromising and unfunny in every aspect, which is perhaps ironically what makes him such a killer jape. All style and pretence with no true substance, the most moneyed man in the room and the one most undeserving of it. He is but a walking cliché of a rich man, the kind that the poor imitate, that they laugh at, the kind disliked by rich and poor alike. Oh… This joke has inadvertently made me sad. Bah! It should affect me not. I mustn’t let sympathy cloud my memory of his true character, which was revealed in his most gentlemanly description of me as “merely tolerable”, when I was in ear shot no less.

Perhaps I wish him to be more underneath… perhaps the virtuous and innocent side of my character is warping my estimation of him, but I saw a spark in Darcy’s eyes when he glanced at me, just for a moment. No, don’t be foolish Lizzy! I know what he thinks of me! I heard his slight, and it affects me not. I am projecting life upon a dead thing, humour upon a statue. He can be nothing more than what he is now, which is a…

Mr Darcy: …blundering fool with an obsession for castrating his dignity through the medium of crude dance, with undeserving and plain young women of meagre social standing. I call Mr Bingley a friend at my own peril, and it is a shame that his potential to be a formidable gentleman is betrayed by such bouts of foolish flailing as displayed on the dance floor throughout this evening. Of course, he is popular in an environment like this, just as a fool is popular to children.  I will never understand how a man of such good consequence and breeding as Bingley can happily engage in these activities without the slightest regard for the status of his cohorts. Such actions in mediocre company do not befit such a gentleman.

It seems Hertfordshire has very little to offer in the way of good company. Earlier in the night, Mr Bingley directed me to a Ms Elizabeth Bennet in hopes that her beauty might blind me from the rest of her tiresome brood.  It is of no consequence whether I do or do not think favourably of Miss Bennet: such is the nature of this rigid, and rightfully so, class system under which we prosper. Well, under which I prosper anyway. I have often wondered how the middle and lower classes consolidate their own self-worth with the knowledge that they, and all the people they are affiliated with, are solely defined by society on the basis of their mediocrity. And yet regardless of this, there are numerous examples in this party alone of those of lesser privilege acting like they were as entitled to as many worldly offerings as the royal family! I must confess that such braying, strong, colloquial personalities causes me continued angst and dismay, likely due to my limited experiences in this area. I myself could only imagine being a meek and grateful servant to the aristocracy in the same situation as they.

As for Elizabeth I see nothing distinguishing in way of her beauty, as she is consistently outshined by her sister in this regard. This is not to say she doesn’t have other virtues of course: I took particular note of the lady`s smile when entering the room, as well as her eyes which (it cannot be denied) have a certain warmth and humour to them. Her humour is not restricted to her eyes of course: she seems quite content to laugh with the other guests… it`s clear Elizabeth has a joyful disposition. Such behaviours raise Ms Bennet in my approximation. First impressions can after all be misleading. However, it matters not. I am forever condemned an elitist brute in her eyes after my slight, a thoughtless miscalculation.

I do not blame Ms Elizabeth for harbouring such ill feeling. However, were I to respond, I would implore she recognises that she herself is not a perfect creation. I, in my estate with my wealth and status, am as flawed as that polished young lady. I with my pride, and she with her prejudice, so imprinted are they upon our psyches and yet our faults and virtues, being so strangely entwined, have bred a solidarity between us, an inexplicable kinship transcending status and reason. We are magnetically drawn it seems, to one another’s orbit. The extent of this connection which, I admit may only be a projection, is that the only words that could have an impact upon me are hers. Could it be possible such a bond be formed so instantaneously?

It is an odd thing to be riddled and tricked by one’s heart. The notion that all the nonsense of life like work, possession and petty quarrels are burned away by dizzying highs of romance is a frivolous one. Whichever sham poet laid the claim that love is the great simplifier of life should be stripped of acclaim and denounced as a fool. And yet… perhaps such sentiment should be cherished as well. Love, it shouldn’t be forgotten, is rarely a rational endeavour, and obeys no time-scale. Only that of its own.