P&P: Behind the Scenes – Lydia Goes to Meryton by Diana Birchall — 21 Comments

  1. Oh, my! Lydia has no self-control and all this seems to be encouraged by Mrs. Phillips and her dear mama. Besides which apparently no lessons on proper decorum or what situations to avoid.

    Yes. Col. Foster likes them young and silly. It seems that may have been the case of many of the girls.

    Never would’ve thought this up, but it makes a whole lot of sense. Lydia and Kitty (I’m shaking my head). And calling Lizzie & Jane Miss Prim and Miss Priss. I can so see Lydia feeling that way.

    Thank you. I thoroughly enjoyed this missing scene.

  2. Thanks, Deborah. Jane Austen really captured something about being 15, in Lydia – I can relate to it myself, remembering how noisy and thoughtless I was just at that age!

  3. What a laugh!! You captured the teen spirit so well, Diana. Self-centered, giddy and contemptuous of “adults”. I can imagine how horrified Darcy must have been to encounter Lydia, especially when you compare her to the shy and quiet Georgiana. Really enjoyed this.

    • Thank you. Monica – I hadn’t thought of that before, what an incredibly contrasting pair of teenagers Lydia and Georgiana are. But wait, Georgiana must have HAD her giddy period too – she nearly ran away with Wickham herself, after all! Perhaps it is her having been caught and chastised by her brother, that makes her so much soberer at 16 than Lydia is. Jane Austen knew what she was doing in these portrayals!

  4. I believe that Lydia’s personality was critical to the overall development of the story. I’m sure Jane Austen didn’t endow her characters with any more personality traits than were to be found in people “back in the day”. Lydia’s silly and thoughtless behavior was encouraged and looked upon with something akin to pride by her mother who was just as silly and thoughtless; yet we know from the reactions of others, the girls, by displaying this type of behavior, were not respected. People really haven’t changed that much in 200 years have they? We have the same situation today. Some teens/adults are “mature” and some are forever “immature”. A nicely written scene, Diana, to show us even more clearly than what we saw at the Netherfield Ball, just how ridiculous Lydia was!

    • Thank you, Linda. I have thought that Lydia was such a very modern teenager, so recognizable a type to all of us. You are right, it is startling to realize that people haven’t changed that much, in a very long time! In this novel, Jane and Lizzy are in many ways quite different from girls in their early 20s today, with their considered and mature speech, and their hyper sensitive consciences. But Lydia’s manners are not only of that century, but every century.

      • The Janes and Elizabeths of this era exist, they just arent as visible as the Lydia’s screeching and stumbling drunk out of bars and clubs at closing time. they are working, or studying, or at any rate dating in ways that dont attract so much attention from passers by.

        • I am sure you are right, Karen. Oddly, I have met any number of people (women) who in their heart of hearts believe they they are “like Elizabeth.” Never met anyone who is willing to admit they are, or were, a Lydia!

    • Julie – thank you, and I’m signed up to write more stories about exactly that! I don’t quite know yet, but it will be fun finding out what Lydia gets up to!

  5. Thoughtless Lydia…obviously she doesn’t read a thing…or think. And the sexual banter went right above her head (thankfully) although in a year she’ll probably be joining in. And Kitty definitely follows her lead…just as thoughtlessly.

    And to see Colonel Forster, carousing with his men and with his soon-to-be-wife Harriet, was something else and speaks to the ill-given trust that Mr. Bennet bestows upon him when Lydia accompanies the Forsters to Brighton.

    Excellent job in capturing the “teen spirit” of daring and flirtation–times have not changed all that much, have they?

    Thank you for writing for us!

    Susanne 🙂

  6. I’m glad you enjoyed Lydia and her antics, Susanne, and what a modern – or timeless – teenager she is! It’s funny how Jane Austen can create a detail, like Forster’s giddy wife, that’s so important to the plot and tells you so much. That’s why it’s such fun to write variations, she suggests so much you can just run with it. More coming up!

  7. Brilliant and hilarious-you made me laugh out loud! My favourite-the reference to Miss Prim and Miss Priss- they are so very naughty, but I can’t help but love them!

  8. Thank you, Jane! From the brilliant author of “Lydia’s Story,” that means everything, and I’m so pleased!

  9. remembering how noisy and thoughtless I was just at that age!

    You?? Well, if you have matured from your former ‘Lydia’ days, then perhaps there is hope for Lydia. Colonel Forster is almost as silly as young Harriet – can you imagine what his marriage will be like in 20 or so years? No wonder he didn’t do a good job of chaperoning Lydia in Brighton. The Philipses… I wonder about them both, providing the fun and frolic, and then taking none of the responsibility when Lydia elopes.

    Your posts always make me feel as if I am right there watching, and you make me think more of the characters’ motivations. Well done, Diana!

  10. Young ladies should not know what the sexual innuendos are all about – bananas – REALLY! But it also reveals how little respect they have for Harriet, Lydia and Kitty. I doubt that they would speak or behave in such a manner in the presence of true ladies. And sitting on their laps – we all know where that intimacy can lead with sex-starved officers/young men. Makes me just shake my head. Yes, we continue to see this type of behavior today but we also have many more out-of-wedlock pregnancies…not that they had none. Sadly.

    Thank you for a realistic look at just how untamed Lydia and her sister are!

    • Thanks for commenting, Sheila. I know they were a little over-the-top with the bananas and lap-sitting – but if ever a girl fit that description, it is Lydia Bennet! Remember the whole neighborhood expected to hear of her in a distant farmhouse! 🙂

  11. Exactly so! Lydia’s innocent behavior is Improper, and if she continues in this direction, it will become Immoral. Of course, the true immorality is the savagery with which society will treat her and her family then (except for the remote chance of a Darcy riding to the rescue). She doesn’t believe it–there’s “not a bit of harm” in it Of course Jane and Elizabeth know better, and try to point out the slippery slope. Lydia maintains her innocence by X-ing them out, turning them into the cardboard figures of Miss Prim and Miss Priss. If Lydia is immoral, it is in her utter disregard for anyone who voices an opinion that would inconvenience her.

  12. Gracia Fay, thanks for making that important point: the true immorality is the savagery society would have shown her and her family. So true. Look at the evidences in how Mr. Collins writes of her, and Lady Catherine’s contemptuous rudeness. There would have been much, much more, had Darcy not ridden to the rescue.

  13. OMG! Somehow Lydia was made for getting herself in trouble. Her morals were a bit loose for the Recency Period. I know Mrs. Bennet didn’t have much going on upstairs in her silly head, but even she knew what was expected of a daughter from a gentleman’s family. From the way she let her behave, she should have placed Lydia in the Dowager’s house and rented her out to gain extra monies. If Darcy hadn’t step in to help the mess she was in, she probably would be doing that kind of work anyway. Even the oldest three girls were maidens until they married, Kitty was straddling the fence, not as bad as Lydia, but not as proper as Jane, Elizabeth, and Mary. Lydia was already lost! I’m not sure her flirtation was innocent, she was wanting love and marriage so she was out to get someone. She was ripe for Wickham: young,stupid, and a mother that allowed her stupidity with a father that didn’t care enough to step in.

    • Thanks for your comment, Carol. Yes, Lydia was ripe for trouble – it was almost inevitable, and she and Wickham got together like a couple of sick magnets! What a scenario, poor girl.

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