P&P: Behind the Scenes – Having a Ball pt 1, by Maria Grace — 16 Comments

  1. Ugghhh! Caroline. She may have a point but she rides roughshod over her brother…..poor, unmarried, henpecked man. I feel sorry for anyone she marries, unless he rules her with an iron fist. Anyhow, all I can say is very well done. I can picture this so very well.

    • LOL, Deborah. I actually felt a little sorry for Caroline to tell the truth. To discover you are expected to put on the event of the season and possibly the year, with two weeks to do it, and not to have even been consulted about the date would make me a bit grumpy too! Just the housecleaning alone kind of boggles the mind, or at least my mind as I hate housecleaning!

  2. How clearly you have shown how self-centered Caroline truly is. Not only is she rude and inconsiderate of the general population of Meryton, but now her very own brother (her protector and provider) comes under her wrath. On one side you could say she is a despicable character… but I also think deep-down she is also very insecure and sad and takes it out on anyone who crosses her path.

    • I think she is very insecurity and she’s livid that she’s been asked to do the nearly impossible. She stands a huge chance of embarrassing herself, perhaps irretrievably and possibly ruining her chances at making a good marriage if the ball goes completely awry. Really Bingley has treated her very badly and inconsiderately. She is rude and prideful to be sure, but I think she also puts up with a great deal from a brother who is flighty and thoughtless. Thanks so much Linda!

  3. Frankly, I have always thought allowing Lydia to goad him into setting the date for the ball was just another example of wishy-washy Bingley’s character (or lack thereof). In this story, I agree completely Caroline and her way of informing him just what he has done to her (and Louisa). Charles Bingley does not think, he acts impulsively, as we are told in canon. Such people never realize their effect on others. He has set her a task that is formidable in the Regency and she has a right to express her displeasure at being placed in such a position. If she does not, Charles will never learn. Lord help Jane when they marry.

    • LOL, I had something of the same thought about Jane. She’ll have to develop quite a backbone or she will forever be trying to cope with Bingley’s thoughtless impulsive acts. I think you’re right about Bingley and I do think Caroline was justified, even if a little rude. I can’t imagine what it took to accomplish everything in just two weeks–especially without modern conveniences like phones and motor vehicles. Just getting supplies without that would be formidable! Thanks, Kathy!

  4. I agree with your last statement. Even in modern times we expect invitations to formal events to arrive a month ahead of time. And to have to hand print the invitations, even just fill in the name general ones, would take time and effort. Then the modiste (maybe one available in Meryton) has to have time to make all the new ones or the women to make over all the old ones. Charles, Charles, Charles – you can be so taxing at times! He had better learn to look at the woman in charge when someone suggests any type of event, even tea at home tomorrow!

  5. MAria!

    Great scene. To me you are one of the very few who can write Caroline and make me kinda like her.

    To me, this also brought out bingle’s complete absence of awareness. He does live for the moment!

    Thanks !!

  6. Excellent little vignette! I am feeling quite a bit of sympathy for Caroline (never say never, right?). The way that she is trying to count to keep her temper and her awareness of the unflattering pitch of her shriek show a self-awareness that we rarely see in portrayals of her character.

    And Bingley is so adorably clueless…although he is not so adorable to Caroline! To ask a 15 year old with no concept of the work that goes into giving a ball to name the date was a blunder of epic proportions for those who will actually have to do the work, namely Caroline and Louisa (but mostly the former).

    But Jane will manage Bingley much more adroitly…in such a sweet and unpretentious manner that he may never realize how much she is managing him! 😉

    Wonderful story–thank you, Maria Grace!! 🙂

    Susanne 🙂

  7. In this scene I am actually in 100% agreement with Caroline. Lydia is a twit. She doesn’t know anything. She is the selfish one here. Bingley is ignorant of what it takes to be a host. This is his first ball. He should have made no promises as to its timing. However, he jumps into the cow patty with both feet. What a mess! Even though Caroline is a class #1 beotch she will drag his a** out of it. Give her credit.

    • You’re right, Lydia is totally a twit here, but then when I think of it, Mrs. Bennet was also rather horrifying for not stepping in and either stopping it from happening or from overriding Lydia’s ridiculous suggestion. So I guess she was pretty awful ther too. Hadn’t thought about that until just now. Thanks, Julia!

  8. I thought readers might be interested in seeing the delightful original P&P text about the ball’s date and the invitations. It’s not clear that Bingley followed up on his promise to Lydia to let her choose the day of the ball. I wonder if he really did. Here are the relevant bits about the ball & its invitations:

    -Lydia was a stout, well-grown girl of fifteen, with a fine complexion and good-humoured countenance; a favourite with her mother, whose affection had brought her into public at an early age. She had high animal spirits, and a sort of natural self-consequence, which the attentions of the officers, to whom her uncle’s good dinners and her own easy manners recommended her, had increased into assurance. She was very equal, therefore, to address Mr. Bingley on the subject of the ball, and abruptly reminded him of his promise; adding, that it would be the most shameful thing in the world if he did not keep it. His answer to this sudden attack was delightful to their mother’s ear —
    “I am perfectly ready, I assure you, to keep my engagement; and when your sister is recovered, you shall, if you please, name the very day of the ball. But you would not wish to be dancing while she is ill.”
    Lydia declared herself satisfied. “Oh! yes — it would be much better to wait till Jane was well, and by that time most likely Captain Carter would be at Meryton again. And when you have given your ball,” she added, “I shall insist on their giving one also. I shall tell Colonel Forster it will be quite a shame if he does not.” – Chapter 9

    Miss Bingley’s attention was quite as much engaged in watching Mr. Darcy’s progress through his book, as in reading her own; and she was perpetually either making some inquiry, or looking at his page. She could not win him, however, to any conversation; he merely answered her question, and read on. At length, quite exhausted by the attempt to be amused with her own book, which she had only chosen because it was the second volume of his, she gave a great yawn and said,
    “How pleasant it is to spend an evening in this way! I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of anything than of a book! When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”
    No one made any reply. She then yawned again, threw aside her book, and cast her eyes round the room in quest of some amusement; when, hearing her brother mentioning a ball to Miss Bennet, she turned suddenly towards him and said —
    “By the bye, Charles, are you really serious in meditating a dance at Netherfield? I would advise you, before you determine on it, to consult the wishes of the present party; I am much mistaken if there are not some among us to whom a ball would be rather a punishment than a pleasure.”
    “If you mean Darcy,” cried her brother, “he may go to bed, if he chuses, before it begins — but as for the ball, it is quite a settled thing; and as soon as Nicholls has made white soup enough, I shall send round my cards.”
    “I should like balls infinitely better,” she replied, “if they were carried on in a different manner; but there is something insufferably tedious in the usual process of such a meeting. It would surely be much more rational if conversation instead of dancing made the order of the day.”
    “Much more rational, my dear Caroline, I dare say, but it would not be near so much like a ball.”
    Miss Bingley made no answer, and soon afterwards got up and walked about the room. – Chapter 11

    The two young ladies [Jane and Elizabeth] were summoned from the shrubbery, where this conversation passed, by the arrival of some of the very persons of whom they had been speaking: Mr. Bingley and his sisters came to give their personal invitation for the long-expected ball at Netherfield, which was fixed for the following Tuesday. The two ladies were delighted to see their dear friend again — called it an age since they had met, and repeatedly asked what she had been doing with herself since their separation. To the rest of the family they paid little attention: avoiding Mrs. Bennet as much as possible, saying not much to Elizabeth, and nothing at all to the others. They were soon gone again, rising from their seats with an activity which took their brother by surprise, and hurrying off as if eager to escape from Mrs. Bennet’s civilities.
    The prospect of the Netherfield ball was extremely agreeable to every female of the family. Mrs. Bennet chose to consider it as given in compliment to her eldest daughter, and was particularly flattered by receiving the invitation from Mr. Bingley himself, instead of a ceremonious card. Jane pictured to herself a happy evening in the society of her two friends, and the attentions of their brother; and Elizabeth thought with pleasure of dancing a great deal with Mr. Wickham, and of seeing a confirmation of everything in Mr. Darcy’s looks and behaviour. The happiness anticipated by Catherine and Lydia depended less on any single event, or any particular person; for though they each, like Elizabeth, meant to dance half the evening with Mr. Wickham, he was by no means the only partner who could satisfy them, and a ball was, at any rate, a ball. And even Mary could assure her family that she had no disinclination for it.– Chapter 17

  9. Of course, Miss Bingley could take her own complaints seriously, and NOT do all the things that must be done in town and which the ‘savages’ of Meryton neither know nor care. Handwritten will do just fine for an affair for four and twenty country families, and a single invitation to the Colonel of the Militia! she and her sister could write them out this very day. It might be different if there were anyone, besides Darcy, whom she cared to impress by having them printed. And it would be easy enough to point out the lack of time to Darcy due to Binglley favoring the Bennet child’s idea!

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