Looking for some dialogue, maybe from Jane Austen
August 31, 2012 3:10 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to track down a piece of dialogue from a book, possibly written by Jane Austen, about people who seek out a friendship and then decide they don't like the other person.

(no, I'm not looking to tell someone off. This has just been wracking my brain for years)

Some details may be off, but here's what I remember about the story leading up to this quote:

The female protagonist has moved in to some large estate, and has met the various high class women in the surrounding area. She becomes ostensibly close friends with one such young lady (or sisters?), until towards the climax of the story, it turns out they really care nothing for our heroine at all. Worse yet, they were the ones who initiated the friendship with her, so it's not as though they didn't know who she was.

She has a pointed discussion with them about what a terrible thing this is, and it's probably not nearly as witty or succinct as I remember it being. Either way, the exact piece of dialog is probably only a sentence or two.

I feel like this is from a Jane Austen novel, or perhaps another British author of the same time period. Or maybe Oscar Wilde?
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug to Writing & Language (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think it might be Persuasion. It is ringing Persuasiony bells for me. Will see if I can find something more substantial than 'persuasiony', although I'm sure there's a lot of Austen experts on metafilter who can clarify more quickly.
posted by pymsical at 3:18 PM on August 31, 2012

I could be way off, but it sounds like Tess of the d'Urbervilles. But I read a lot of eighteenth century fiction the last two years and they could all be muddled together.
posted by patheral at 3:35 PM on August 31, 2012

I don't think it's Persuasion - Anne Elliot is the staid Austen heroine who sees through artifice.

It may be Northanger Abbey - the relationship between the main character Catherine Morland and her 'friend' Isabella Thorpe has a similar arc, and I seem to recall a confrontation over that or over Isabella's treatment of Catherine's brother/Isabella's fiance. I'll have to refer to my copy at home to see if I'm imagining it.
posted by muddgirl at 3:39 PM on August 31, 2012

In Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Bingley's sisters do this to Jane Bennett.
posted by fshgrl at 4:10 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I actually thought it was Pride and Prejudice, but I can't find the conversation in the text. Any suggestions on keywords or what part to look in?

Otherwise I guess this is a long weekend...
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 4:20 PM on August 31, 2012

Best answer: In Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Bingley's sisters do this to Jane Bennett.

I don't recall Jane confronting the Bingleys about this (given her character, such a confrontation would probably strike her as both painful and futile), but she does write to Elizabeth about it. The text of the letter:
``My dearest Lizzy will, I am sure, be incapable of triumphing in her better judgment, at my expence, when I confess myself to have been entirely deceived in Miss Bingley's regard for me. But, my dear sister, though the event has proved you right, do not think me obstinate if I still assert that, considering what her behaviour was, my confidence was as natural as your suspicion. I do not at all comprehend her reason for wishing to be intimate with me, but if the same circumstances were to happen again, I am sure I should be deceived again. Caroline did not return my visit till yesterday; and not a note, not a line, did I receive in the mean time. When she did come, it was very evident that she had no pleasure in it; she made a slight, formal, apology for not calling before, said not a word of wishing to see me again, and was in every respect so altered a creature, that when she went away I was perfectly resolved to continue the acquaintance no longer. I pity, though I cannot help blaming her. She was very wrong in singling me out as she did; I can safely say, that every advance to intimacy began on her side. But I pity her, because she must feel that she has been acting wrong, and because I am very sure that anxiety for her brother is the cause of it, I need not explain myself farther; and though we know this anxiety to be quite needless, yet if she feels it, it will easily account for her behaviour to me; and so deservedly dear as he is to his sister, whatever anxiety she may feel on his behalf is natural and amiable. I cannot but wonder, however, at her having any such fears now, because, if he had at all cared about me, we must have met long, long ago. He knows of my being in town, I am certain, from something she said herself; and yet it should seem by her manner of talking, as if she wanted to persuade herself that he is really partial to Miss Darcy. I cannot understand it. If I were not afraid of judging harshly, I should be almost tempted to say that there is a strong appearance of duplicity in all this. But I will endeavour to banish every painful thought, and think only of what will make me happy: your affection, and the invariable kindness of my dear uncle and aunt. Let me hear from you very soon. Miss Bingley said something of his never returning to Netherfield again, of giving up the house, but not with any certainty. We had better not mention it. I am extremely glad that you have such pleasant accounts from our friends at Hunsford. Pray go to see them, with Sir William and Maria. I am sure you will be very comfortable there.
posted by Elsa at 4:22 PM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]

I just skimmed the end of Northanger Abbey and don't see any directly relevant conversations.
posted by muddgirl at 4:34 PM on August 31, 2012

Jane definitely doesn't confront the Bingley sisters in P&P,
posted by BlahLaLa at 5:04 PM on August 31, 2012

I've only read all six published Jane Austen novels a dozen or so times each in the last fifteen years, so I'm no expert. But this doesn't ring any Jane Austen bells for me at all. I'll be interested to see if someone turns it up, in Austen or elsewhere.
posted by not that girl at 6:24 PM on August 31, 2012

maybe a scene with Fanny Price in Mansfield Park? I can't find anything like the speech you describe, though. :(
posted by hms71 at 7:49 PM on August 31, 2012

Response by poster: "She was very wrong in singling me out as she did; I can safely say, that every advance to intimacy began on her side."

I could have sworn it was dialog, but this must be what I was thinking of. Thanks Elsa.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 8:34 PM on August 31, 2012

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