Although I love to write Jane Austen fan fiction and novels with Austen tie-ins, I do not profess to be an Austen scholar. But because so many people out there DO know a lot about Austen and her works, I am learning something all the time. At present, I am reading the annotated edition of Pride and Prejudice, edited by Patricia Meyer Spacks. In her notes, Ms. Spacks states that when Mr. Darcy tells Bingley that "I am in no humour at present to give consequece to young ladies who are slighted by other men," there is more there than I thought. When Darcy declares that he will not give consequence to Elizabeth, what he is actually saying is that because of his rank in society, by dancing with Elizabeth, he would have elevated her status. So not only did Darcy insult Elizabeth by saying she is merely tolerable, he knowingly refused to confer status on her. No wonder she disliked him!
The second nugget I mined was when Mrs. Bennet was recapping the night of the assembly for her husband. "Only think of that my dear; [Mr. Bingley] actually danced with [Jane] twice, and she was the only creature in the room that he asked a second time." Again, according to Ms. Spacks, when "a man asked a lady to dance, he would be expected to remain her partner for two dances. If he invited her a second time, they would share two more dances," i.e., four dances. That's a nice chunk of time to spend with one partner. So Jane truly was honored by Mr. Bingley's attentions.
Stay tuned for more nuggets or share your own. Mary