12 thoughts on “Lydia Bennet, the Real Heroine of Pride and Pejudice (1995)

  1. Interesting take as I never saw Lydia as anything but immature and flighty. But if, as you postulated, all she wants is TFOH (the f…out of here), her actions show thought, a maturity to realise that in choosing Wickham, she will always have the upper hand and be sexually satisfied. Unless she does take a lover in the future. But I still favour Miss Elizabeth Bennett as my favourite character. Along with Fitzwilliam Darcy of course. Also Lydia does sort of remind me of Marianne in Sense and Sensibility. The Kate Winslet version.

    1. I definitely think Austen was doing something subtle with the character of Lydia. In 18th-c. & 19th-c. novels, it’s much more typical for a woman who runs away with a man to come to a bad end, socially or even physically (for example, in Thomas Hardy’s novels, most women who step outside of society’s rules die!).

      1. Ah hat’s not quite the same thing though :) Women came to bad ends in earlier fiction as censure for their deeds; Hardy’s works were a condemnation of contemporary social mores and the behaviour and attitudes of men towards women.

        1. But Hardy framed the only option for women to escape Victorian strictures as death. He was pretty heavy-handed in his indictment of both society and, frankly, women (consider how he treated the actual women in his life; his personal conflict shone thru in his writing on women, & was always a fave. Hardy topic from the 1st novel under his name A Pair of Blue Eyes [a reductive title & a female main character who dies in the end!] to Tess of the Durbervilles).

          FWIW, George Eliot (IRL, Mary Ann Evans) also killed off a few morally complicated women, as in The Mill on the Floss, so it’s not just men who were up to it. Only that Hardy did it almost every time.

          Whereas Austen was more subtle & used Lydia to show how a woman might make a social mistake & live with it, without great shame. That’s a very modern idea for 1813, when P&P was first published!

  2. I always loved Julia Sawalha’s performance, and your post make me appreciate her even more. I also agree when You say that some of Austen’s characters are amusing instead of outrageous (I feel this way especially about the “villains” like Lucy Steele, Mary and Henry Crawford, etc. The way they are pivotal to the plots, etc, I can’t hate them at all).

  3. I have but two quibbles: 1) Lizzie is not passive, she is decorous, or reserved. Jane, OTOH, is totally passive. 2) Lydia certainly didn’t set out to make Wickham dependent on her; she had no way of knowing that she would be able to make him so. She was – as you point out – “getting on the very first bus out of town”. Unless, of course, your actual point is that AUSTEN was making these points.As the author, she certainly knew what she was planning!

  4. I can agree, that Lydias actions brings much of the action in the book, but… it never brings anything good.
    If no Mr Darcy, who came like a “deus ex machina” and repaired everything – she would end in some asylum or something, becuse Wickam hoped to marry well, and Lydia was only his sex toy, he would throw her away any time as soon as he met some wealthy girl ready to marry him.
    If no Lydia interference Jane and Bingley would fall in love slowely, and with no ball Darcy wouldn’t interfere so early, and later Bingley wouldn’t belived him so easly. So bringing the ball to Netherfield was a disaster for Jane..
    … and bringing Wicham to Bennets family make Lizzzy’s way to love Darcy much more complicated.
    I think that Jane Austen spare Lydia, becouse she was so young and thoughtless, not bad, and most of fault was her mothers – she should protect her doughter not spoil her. She should have some childhood, not being forced to be a women at age of 15.
    Wicham was almost 30 years guy who liked not even “sweet sixteen’s” but 15 years old girls – Lydia wasn’t his first, as we know…

    Jane Austen liked her heroines to understand rules of society, but they should act according to their own conscience, not by this rules.
    and Lydia… she doesn’t use her will, it is rather about whims…

  5. You definitely put Lydia in an interesting light. Even though Lydia does take agency of her own life, she still 16 and flighty, to say the least.

  6. I can’t agree with you that her actions showed thought. I mean, if she wanted to leave polite society then sure, but I doubt she knew what she was doing. Her life would’ve been way more stable if she’d married some good looking and clueless young lawyer who snap her up for her pretty face! As it is they can never stay in one place too long and Jane and Lizzie’s husband’s are NOT keen on helping him out indefinitely. Sure Jane and Lizzie’s give Lydia some of their pin money sometimes but it wouldn’t have been much. Besides, the idea that she set out to make whickam dependant on her supposes a premonition of her sisters marriages, in which case it would’ve been far better to curb her personality a bit and get their help in acquiring a more affluent husband.

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