In my everyday life I try to be an honest person, sometimes even to my own detriment. When the need arises I am reluctant, but not averse, to telling a small white lie, especially if it saves someone pain and doesn’t hurt anyone.
If it’s followed by the words ‘it’s better to know the truth’ or ‘you wouldn’t want me to lie to you’ people seem to think it’s perfectly acceptable to hurt ones feelings or conceal information. They even gave it a label, Tough Love. But there’s the rub! Would I sometimes want to be told a little white lie or indeed tell one to spare hurting someone?
’I love my new hair cut don’t you?’ I was recently asked. Actually no, it looks like a pudding basin was put on your head and makes your face look fat.
Did I say that? No! I said “You love it honey that’s great, but maybe add a few layers next time. Love how shiny and healthy it looks too” Was I right to lie?
Now my favourite Jane Austen character, Mr Darcy professes that disguise of every sort is his abhorrence. But is he as honest as he professes? He deceives Bingley as to Jane’s presence in London. He hides Wickham’s true nature from the Bennet’s and conceals Georgiana’s near elopement from all but Colonel Fitzwilliam. We all understand why he felt the need to do these things and it also adds depth to both the story and character, but was there an alternative action he could have taken to keep the integrity of his statement?
When Jane was in London, Darcy and the ugly sisters (OK I know some people love Caroline and Louisa, and I’m sorry if I offend you, but I don’t) concealed this fact from Charles. If, as they suspected she was only after his money it was the right thing to do. Charles broken heart would have undoubtedly mended eventually, and as Jane tells us he is prone to falling in love every few weeks. But surely a discreet enquiry in the right quarter would have revealed the true depth of Jane’s feeling for Mr Bingley. Darcy is after all a rich and powerful man. He must have the resources to ascertain such a simple thing.
The other two events are eternally joined by three characters, Georgiana, Wickham, and Lydia.
Darcy, in full possession of the facts, knows Wickham’s character. Surely he could have taken the time to enlighten Mr Bennet of this? Perhaps then instead of exercising damage control when Lydia eloped it could have been prevented. With both men being ‘Gentlemen’ I am sure Georgiana’s secret would have been kept. And later he trust Elizabeth with this information, is her father any less trustworthy?
Perhaps Richard and Darcy could have told Colonel Foster of his weakness for gambling or his habit of running up debts and then disappearing. Surely a scoundrel like Wickham would not be welcome in his regiment, besmirching its good name?
In hindsight it is easy to find an alternative or remedy for a problem, but when in the midst of one, finding the right solution is not always so cut and dry. Darcy does realise the error in his judgements and rectifies them. In doing so he reverses Elizabeth’s opinion of him and wins the day. Having said all this, I can’t help but feel sorry for Lydia, condemned to a life with Wickham. I feel she is the true victim in Pride & Prejudice. What do you think?