Lockdowns and Lizzy Bennet’s Strength of Character

Lockdowns and Lizzy Bennet’s Strength of Character

One of the reasons I love Pride and Prejudice so much is because of the character of Elizabeth Bennet. Even though I’m more of a Mary Bennet in real life, Elizabeth is the woman I always wanted to be.

She’s smart and pretty (although not handsome enough to tempt some men). She’s also witty and optimistic. She knows when to speak up and when to hold her tongue.

But the aspect of Elizabeth Bennet I like most is her inner strength, which Jane Austen demonstrated in so many ways throughout the novel.

For example, Austen symbolized Elizabeth’s strong independent streak by having her embark on solitary walks—sometimes with a purpose; sometimes just to enjoy the out-of-doors.

And Austen showed Elizabeth’s strength of character when she rejected Mr. Collins’ offer of marriage, even though Elizabeth knew how much future security her family would realize if she agreed to the marriage.

Elizabeth was strong in her convictions, too, although they were sometimes misguided. Her prejudice against Mr. Darcy gave her the strength to resist his attempts to conciliate himself to her in Hunsford, when any other woman would have been wildly flattered by his attentions (I’m looking at you, Caroline Bingley). But not Elizabeth. She never sought his good opinion, and she strongly and vehemently rejected Darcy’s first marriage proposal.

And once she learned of Wickham’s perfidy, Elizabeth’s humility and strong self-awareness helped her realize she had been wrong about Darcy all along.

Elizabeth has physical strength, too. Throughout the novel, she’s a young woman in action—nursing Jane at Netherfield, visiting Charlotte, sparring with Darcy, and keeping her younger sisters in check.

But the one time in the novel when Elizabeth is faced with the biggest crisis of her life—Lydia’s elopement with Wickham—strong, independent Elizabeth can do nothing about it. There is no action she can take to fix the matter. Her wit and decisiveness won’t save the day.

Even as her world crumbles about her and she feels the mounting shame of her sister’s behavior, Elizabeth realizes she can do nothing to change the situation. She must stay at home and wait, and hope that others—her uncle and her father, namely—will be able to find Lydia and Wickham and make them marry, and thereby save the family from scandal.

This week, when I was considering ideas for this post, I realized how much I sympathize with Elizabeth’s literary predicament. It’s almost a parallel for what we’re all going through right now. Like her, we have to stay at home and wait, and trust others to make the right decisions on our behalf. Like Elizabeth, many of us are on watch for daily news updates from the people who are on the front lines, managing the crisis:

Every day at Longbourn was now a day of anxiety; but the most anxious part of each was when the post was expected. The arrival of letters was the grand object of every morning’s impatience. Through letters, whatever of good or bad was to be told would be communicated, and every succeeding day was expected to bring some news of importance.

Like Elizabeth, I’ve been devouring news reports and updates. Sometimes the news is sad and frightening; sometimes it’s hopeful, and I can see glimmers of a light at the end of our lockdown tunnel.

But mostly, like Elizabeth, I’ve learned to trust others; to find comfort in knowing there are people diligently working to get us through this crisis and help us get back to the lives we once led.

I hope you and your loved ones are healthy and safe, as you, too, wait for good news. Do you see the light of the end of quarantine in your community?

I’d love to know how you’re spending your time waiting for quarantines to be lifted. Do you watch the news? Do you stay hunkered down at home? Have you discovered new hobbies (or resurrected old ones) to help you pass the time? Please share!

15 Responses to Lockdowns and Lizzy Bennet’s Strength of Character

    • Turning to family and things that bring comfort are so important when trouble strikes. I think they help keep us sane and anchored. 🙂 Thanks for commenting and please stay well!

  1. Hello Nancy, I’ve been reading through my personal library. Also watching YouTube teachings from ministries I follow. Tomorrow my library reopens. Tuesday, I’ll be able to attend my Bible study. 🙂

    • We think alike. 🙂 My state is doing a slow, phased approach to reopening, but as soon as the library opens and I can attend Bible study again, I’ll be there! Please take extra care and stay well.

  2. Hi Nancy! Yesterday the governor of Indiana lifted stay at home for much of the state, although our county has one more week to go. I feel like May is bringing all of us a breath of fresh air and I can’t wait for everything to be opened, mask or no mask. Thanks goodness for the internet. I’ve been able to do lots of lessons with Skpye and Zoom and stay connected during these crazy times. All the best to you and yours. Jen

    • I’ve been doing the same via Internet — Zooming with family and taking lessons to expand my minimal Spanish skills. But I have to admit I’m ready to be out of doors a lot more, even if I only go as far as my back yard. 😀 Enjoy yourself, Jen, and please stay safe!

  3. What a great post! I love Lizzy and all her qualities! I am working but I also find time to read and get yard work done too.

    • You’ve got a head start on me, Cindie. In Colorado we’re just now firing up our lawn mowers and getting ready to plant colorful annuals. It’s a great feeling after so many weeks spent indoors! Thanks for sharing, and please stay safe and well!

  4. Interesting post, Nancy. I think that Elizabeth Bennet would be able to adapt to any situation and make a go of it. Maybe that’s one of the reasons we love her so much. As for myself, I have to admit I am a bit of a hermit, so things have not changed much for me. I’m still reading, writing, doing research, and playing games, but I have changed my shopping hours from nighttime to early morning for the older shoppers since I’m of a more mature age than I like. I think that conditions have forced many families to become closer, and I believe that’s a good thing. My daughter and I have always been close (we talk every day) but have been several states from each other for way too long. So it looks like I might be moving from Texas to Southern Illinois to be close to her again. If I do, I look forward to walks, shopping trips but, most of all, to chats in person instead of over the phone. These are critical times as the Bible has predicted, so I am curious as to what the future holds. I’m always hoping for the best for everyone including you and yours, Nancy. Please stay well and safe. <3

    • Living close to your daughter again is a wonderful thing to look forward to! I hope you’ll keep me posted about what you decide. It’s so hard to be far from loved ones at a time like this, especially several states away.

      I’m a hermit, too, so staying at home is nothing new, but I do miss the library and visiting my favorite used bookstores (a small price to pay, really). One day this will all be over and we’ll be glad that the small sacrifices we made kept our friends, families, and neighbors safe and healthy. Stay vigilant and stay well, Gianna. All my best to you!

  5. We are retired so we don’t have to worry about managing a career from home. I am so grateful for that as our lives took a downturn last year with a diagnosis that has me now a full-time caregiver for my husband. He is now in remission [thank the Lord] but he has been affected by the cancer or the chemo. A screening with a neurologist had to be postponed due to the crisis. We will wait until later to see the cause and extent of his confusion and memory loss.

    I am an avid JAFF reader but have not kept up with my 2020 reading challenge. This time last year I had already read twice what I have at this point. No worries… I’ll catch up one day. I have been busy though. I am currently reading through the Bible, I check a daily devotional each morning, I have a prayer journal and/or a gratitude writing that I do each day.

    I do watch some TV but not a lot. I am doing as you are… letting others make the decisions. Our state is holding off reopening all at once. We will do so in 3 phases, May 11, 20, and 25. Hopefully, there won’t be a spike in cases. I have cancelled or rescheduled all appointments other than my husband’s monthly cancer doctor. I can get a perm another month. I am not ready to venture out very much or too soon. Blessings to you and keep safe.

    • I’m so glad your husband is in remission, and I hope you are soon able to get help with the ongoing issues. My state is doing a phased opening, too, but I’m of the same mind you are: it’s better to stay safe at home until we learn more. Please take care of yourself, and your husband. I hope he continues to improve. Take care and stay safe.

  6. I luckily am still able to go to work. I am a high school librarian and have been working on inventory, trying to get books returned, reading book reviews and purchasing new books. Then processing them to get ready to be put on the selves. Also it’s been go warm that we have been working tons in the yard.

    • It’s finally warm enough in my area to do some yard work, too, Leslie. I’m really looking forward to spending time outside and adding some color to my flower beds. Stay safe!

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