(Non) Dancing Darcy: A Man of Few Words, Chapter 2

In Chapter 2, Darcy begins to mingle with Netherfield's neighbors. This is where I moved the first (of many) infamous confrontations between Darcy & Elizabeth: the scene at Lucas Lodge where she refuses to dance with him.

Despite Darcy's reluctance to dance at a non-dancing event, people in Austen's novels are constantly dancing at non-dancing events. Members of small house parties are continually pushing back the rugs, sending someone to the piano, and dancing a few reels. Dancing appears to have been the equivalent of asking, "So, what's on television?" And it would have been far more similar to watching an hour long drama than to jitterbugging for the duration of a single song.

Harker is second from Ehle after Davis.
One of my favorite scenes in the BBC Pride & Prejudice takes place at the Netherfield ball: during one of the dance scenes, you can see Susannah Harker (Jane Bennet) counting the beats. I think the actor rather than the character is doing the counting, but the bobs of her head add a neat touch of realism. The dances and reels at both balls and house parties would have involved an extensive number of steps and some could get rather complicated. They also would have lasted for twenty or more minutes. 

Darcy knows how to dance, of course, but would rather talk. However, these are relative irritations. His famous remark to Sir William Lucas, "Every savage can dance," I propose as a hopeless attempt (on Darcy's part) to stem the tide of dance-related small-talk.

For a definition of the kind of small-talk Darcy loathes, check out Data from Star Trek: TNG.

And for a futuristic Sir William, check out some more Star Trek: TNG. (Commander Hutchinson is a perfect Sir William: he loves company, he will talk about anything, and he is ultimately a kindly man.)

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