The amateur journalist Flora Poste interviewed Elizabeth Bennet about the customs of the latter?s times. Elizabeth reminded Flora of her visit to Cold Comfort Farm. This is only a segment of the interview: ELIZABETH: We had to live with our parents, or an authorized tutor, until we got married, and we couldn?t leave home with any other excuse than marriage because women couldn?t work at the time, and matrimony was the only way to be financially secure and the status of lady.
It was frequent, in the most respected families, that the marriage of two cousins would be arranged so they would keep their good fortune and good name and their family?s honor wouldn?t be fainted by the introduction of a less respectable person. Mr. Darcy himself was intended by Lady de Bourgh (his aunt) to marry her daughter, Anne.
FLORA: Did your family have some kind of arrangements for marrying you or any of your sisters? ELIZABETH: My family didn?t have enough income to have our marriages arranged and my mother encouraged us to seek wealthy and reputable gentlemen instead of a lover.
For her a good income and name were more important than love for an engagement. And sometimes, confused to be the same thing. Thus, my friend Charlotte Lucas married Mr. Collins (my cousin who was to inherit my fathers property when he died) based on his future fortune and his steady prospects rather than her sentiments towards him.
FLORA: I see. At Cold Comfort Farm, where I stayed for some months, they had also have arranged marriages between the cousins living there so that the family could all stay on the farm. Aunt Ada Doom didn?t want them to break the social circle of the Starkadders family. My cousin Elfine was intended to married cousin Urk.
ELIZABETH: What happened? Did they get married? FLORA: Of course not. It would have been pity for poor Elfine, who was in love with Richard Hawk-Monitor and, therefore, didn?t want to wed Urk.
You see, my dear Elizabeth, as I said before, Aunt Ada Doom forbade the Starkadders to live Cold Comfort and thus she had robbed them of vitality by forbidding them to meet other people, travel, to choose the best for their happiness, like? Elizabeth (interrupting): Like Lady de Bourgh planning the marriage between her daughter and nephew. Based on her class prejudices but regardless of the sentiments that the couple felt for each other. She only wanted to keep them inside the family?s social circle.
But Lady Catherine?s prejudices about marriage were shared by most of the people of the time. Furthermore, the sisters of Mr. Bingley (my sister?s husband) accepted by no means the union between him and my sister. And, even though his happiness was extremely obvious each time he was seen with her, his sisters try to break off the match just because there wasn?t any profit on his side.
FLORA: But Elizabeth, how did Mr. Darcy and you get married in spite of his aunt?s prejudices, and how did Mr. Bingley wed your sister in spite of his sisters? prejudices? ELIZABETH: Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy were conscious that happiness doesn?t depend upon the possession of a good fortune or a respectable name.
But Mr. Darcy wasn?t always of that thought. He tells me that he fell in love with me after seing the vitality of my eyes. The vitality that I didn?t find in him because of his pride.
I didn?t even like him at our first acquaintance. I thought he was a snob, but that changed after I met him under different circumstances.
FLORA: So, by marrying you violated some of the codes of the society where you lived. What were the results of this? ELIZABETH: Well, I felt extremely contented in wedding the person I loved and also because the people who really care about my happiness, my father and Jane, saw in him a good person and a source of happiness regardless of his status. They were happy too. The same thing happened with Mr. Darcy, for his sister was the only member of his family who cared about his happiness rather than his social elevation.
FLORA: I agree. For, as I was saying, when I was at Cold Comfort everybody was forbidden to leave the farm. There wasn?t any amusement in its inhabitants? lives, but as soon as they discovered (with a little help) that there was an outside world to explore and that crossing its boundary they would find somebody who needed them or someone they needed, everybody felt reborn.
Elfine married the man she loved. Amos found that his passion was to preach and left the farm to the person who most wanted it, Reuben. Even Aunt Ada Doom, subverting her own prejudices found contentment in leaving the farm.
ELIZABETH: I think that our experiences showed us that the rules inside a social circle discourage marriage for love rather than for financial or social security.
FLORA: So, to find your own happiness you have to think for yourself instead of following the rules blindly.