If YOU were in control of the story, what would happen next?
If you’re like me and love to read novels, you also love to use your imagination. Traveling to foreign places, having adventures, and experiencing all kinds of emotions and experiences through the characters we read about can be a fun escape from the world!
Classical music can also transport us into new worlds. Film scores can transport us to a very specific place, but you can imagine your own images and storyline to match any piece of instrumental music you hear!
Here’s a choose-your-own adventure version of Pride and Prejudice, then, with which you can follow along as you listen to some music written waaaaaay back in the 18th century (around when the book was actually written in the first place!). Some details are different than what you’ll actually find in the book, but others are the same.
Ultimately, the choice is yours.
What will happy to Lizzy Bennet?
Haydn: String Quartet in G Major, Hob.III:66 (Op. 64 No. 4) – 1. Allegro con brio (performed by The Angeles String Quartet; album = Haydn: Complete String Quartets)
[I recommend opening the YouTube video in a separate browser so you can follow along with both the video timings and the story at the same time.]
0:00-0:18 It has been about a week since Elizabeth Bennett first met George Wickham, and already she is falling in love with him. As she arrives at Netherfield for Bingley’s ball, she ponders Wickham’s charming attributes and attractive self-confidence. She sincerely—but sensibly—admires him (shown by the softer and more sentimental sections), and does so more and more the longer she thinks of him.
For Lizzie to meet Mr. Collins, go to 1) For Lizzie to look for Mr. Wickham, go to 2)
1) 0:18-0:29 Mr. Collins suddenly interrupts her train of thought by asking her to dance with him (sudden, low notes). Lizzy squeaks out a timid answer, trying to decline without being rude, but he nevertheless secures her for the solicited dances (next low notes). As a result, Lizzy’s thoughts turn into a growing flurry of resentment at him for preventing her from dancing with Wickham.
0:29-0:42 After Mr. Collins has (however temporarily) departed, Lizzy again turns her mind to Wickham’s charms. This time, her thoughts take on a more forceful hue since she is still angry with her dreadful cousin for asking her to dance. Moreover, Mr. Collins’s tedious personality places Wickham in an even better light by comparison.
Go to 3)
2) 0:18-0:29 She begins searching the crowd for Wickham. Every now and then she glimpses the back of a head or hears a buoyant laugh that gives her a pang of expectation (low notes), but when she gets a closer look she is always disappointed (high notes).
0:29-0:42 After a time, Lizzy becomes worried that she won’t be able to find Wickham. To cope, she turns her mind again to his charms, this time with more forced self-assurance—she can’t help but wonder why he’s not there when he had said he would be.
Go to 3)
3) 0:42-0:52 While Lizzy is daydreaming of Wickham, the reticent Mr. Darcy is secretly watching her, suspecting her feelings for Wickham. Though he maintains his outward composure, inside he feels a combination of resentment and worry towards Lizzy, because he knows what will happen if Wickham succeeds in winning her affections. His preexisting love for her only adds to the tension of his emotions.
0:52-0:59 But now, as Lizzy chats and laughs with her friends off to one side of the ballroom, Darcy looks past his worries and simply sees her for the beautiful, independent woman she is and that he has fallen in love with. He resolves to ask her to dance and steadily approaches her.
1:00-1:12 As he asks her to dance, he attempts to be charming and poised (he becomes a bit flustered towards the end, but is able to save himself and calmly finish his request). Lizzy’s mind freezes—her confused brain goes in circles trying to figure out the motive for such an unwonted request.
If Lizzy has met Mr. Collins, go to 4) If Lizzie has been searching for Wickham, go to 5)
4) 1:12-2:23 This sarcastic replay seems to make fun of the romantic listener who probably just fawned over this encounter. You didn’t get enough of it the first time? Ok, here it is again, though now you’ll have to wait a bit before you know what happens next. HA.
Go to 6)
5) 1:12-2:23 By force of comparison with Darcy, Lizzy returns to her uncompromising admiration of Wickham as she continues to look for him—even as she is on her way to the dance floor with Darcy. But things have started to feel more frantic now. Again, she keeps thinking she sees him but he’s never truly there. Again, she keeps going in circles as her doubts about Wickham’s character return, treating Darcy to new, in-depth understanding of her desire to be with Wickham instead of him, once again piquing his inward anger and despair. But as he reaches the dance floor with Lizzie opposite him and as the music starts, he can’t help but be enchanted by her all over again. As they begin to dance (with the low notes that were originally Darcy asking her to dance), he is graceful and an altogether beautiful dancer. Poor Lizzy is still confused as to why this is even happening.
Go to 6)
6) 2:23-2:51 Though outwardly collected and graceful, Darcy is actually considerably nervous and tries to steel himself for the dance. He knows he has to play this just right. He is in such a state (though none of it shows on the outside) that our perspective blends seamlessly from the moments before the dance begins to the beginning of the dance itself. She actually starts to speak to him, and he feels his chance has come! But instead of engaging in conversation with her, he finds himself withdrawing into himself and tentatively yielding to whatever she says in attempts to please her. As a result, Lizzy’s disgust and contempt for him only grows.
2:51-3:04 (Well, that officially backfired!) Darcy regards Lizzy, but this time instead of seeing a happy, lively girl, his view of her is colored both by his anger at her mentioning the loathed Wickham and her own vicious contempt. A conclusive failure, the dance has hardened both of them in stubbornness and irritation.
3:04-3:20 Withdrawing into a third person, “narrator” perspective, Lizzy’s admiring view of Wickham is contrasted with Darcy’s sullen view. Darcy indeed sees Wickham’s charms, but the knowledge of his true character gives those charms a bitter meaning, especially when he remembers with tender regret his deception towards Georgiana.
3:21-3:37 As a result of his musings, it occurs to Darcy that if he doesn’t do something, Lizzy may suffer a similar fate. He then and there resolves to do all he can to keep Wickham from deceiving Lizzy any further, even if she hates him for it.
3:37-3:46 We seamlessly pan out into the surrounding festivities of the ball, leaving Darcy to his resolutions. The gaiety certainly provides a welcome contrast to his dark broodings.
For Wickham to appear, go to 7) For Lizzie to doubt Wickham, go to 8)
7) 3:47-3:51 Suddenly, Lizzie sees Wickham! Of course, since she has been mistaken so often already tonight she remains tentative at first—she needs to make sure it’s really him.
3:52-3:57 It is him! Lizzie observes even more charm and confidence in this man than she had been imagining.
3:58-4:09 Now that she sees it is truly he and that he is as charming as ever, Lizzie inwardly rejoices. Any doubts she had entertained of his intentions towards her as a result of his absence are now simply turned into extra joy at his appearance.
4:09-end Now Wickham approaches her, and she sees tenderness in his eyes meant just for her. She responds in a befuddled, confused state (although ironically a much happier confused state than she exhibited for Darcy’s request to dance). But her response rings a bit hollow in the listener’s ears, foreboding some further trial of their relationship to come.
8) 3:47-3:51 Suddenly, we jump into Lizzy’s mind. Miss Bingley and Jane (speaking for Mr. Bingley) have just informed her that Darcy was always kind to Wickham and always exhibited an upright moral character. At these communications, she experiences a considerable pang of doubt. If two of the people closest to Darcy unequivocally vouch for him, is it possible that she could be wrong?
3:52-3:57 (NOPE.) Lizzy doesn’t give those feelings any room to develop. By remembering Mr. Wickham’s flawless charms she quickly convinces herself that she is correct in her opinions of both men.
3:58-4:09 Meanwhile, Darcy is off in a corner comparing his flawless view of Lizzy to the judgmental one he experienced during their dance, but already his love for her has blinded him to the majority of her disagreeableness. Though it was unpleasant, he’s happy that he at least got to dance with her.
4:09-end As the music slows down, we take a step back and take one last look at Lizzy’s feelings for Wickham. There is a part that is truly sincere in her admiration for him. But the rapidity with which she returned to confident feelings in favor of his superiority draw light to the fact that she is blinding herself to the truth. The off-sounding notes at the end leave us with the foreshadowing feeling that her good opinion of him is perhaps not destined to last much longer…
Did this piece sound familiar? You might have recognized it from another choose-your-own-adventure story with Jane Eyre! You can check it out here for more music-related fun. And let me know which paths you took in the comments below!
You can listen to more Classical Music Stories here.