If you’ve been following along, go ahead and skip the next paragraph. If not, be surprised.
Jane Austen (JA) is one sneaky genius. Not only did she make the “omniscient narrator” NOT omniscient, but she also gave her an attitude. And not only did she give her an attitude, but she also made her presence nearly invisible. I say nearly, because there’s a couple of statements in P&P that let us know the author and narrator are two different entities. I’ve written about those elsewhere, so I won’t bore you with too many details. If you buy into this premise, what does it mean?
Who is the narrator within P&P of whom I speak? We know it’s a woman, because she describes womanly ways with such perception and precision that no man could be her equal. We know she sees many things behind the scenes, because she has access to mundane household details. And she spends a lot of time complaining about how silly Mrs. Bennet behaves. We know this because every time Mrs. Bennet appears, the narrator complains about her.
Could it be Mrs. Lucas? She certainly may have an axe to grind against Mrs. Bennet. After all, she gets abused fairly regularly throughout the book. Then again, maybe not. She has such a complaisant personality overall, I can’t imagine getting worked up over much. Besides, she doesn’t appear behind the scene.
Could it be Hill? After all, she is (almost) always in the background, we know she also gets mightily abused by Mrs. Bennet, and she most certainly would be plugged into the internet of the day; that would be “server” to “server” connections.*
Think about it and get back to me. For the moment, I’m going to bury myself back in the “surprise at Pemberly” chapter. Such fun.
* Sorry about that. It seemed such a nice pun at first.