I just saw an ad for the new Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz movie, called “What Happens in Vegas.” In the movie, their characters get hitched in Las Vegas after a night of drunken debauchery. One of them wins a $3 million jackpot using the other’s quarter, and hilarity ensues as the newlyweds try to undermine each other and get away with the cash.
Naturally, my mind wandered to Mr. Wickham and Lydia Bennet. Today, people who marry impulsively in Vegas can brush it under the carpet with an annulment and a shrug of the shoulders. In fact, the Las Vegas tourism industry has capitalized on this theme, with their popular “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” ads. Unfortunately for the Bennet family, couples who eloped to Gretna Green weren’t able to keep things as hushed up.
The entire Bennet family would be ruined by Lydia’s impulsively living with Wickham in London. Lizzy recognized this reality immediately upon receiving Jane’s letter. She thought it “improbable” that she and Mr. Darcy “should ever see each other again on such terms of cordiality,” due to the humiliation of Lydia’s affair. Jane and Elizabeth could be secure respectable husbands with such a sister. Indeed, Mr. Collins says it would be better if Lydia had died.
I guess what happens in Brighton doesn’t stay in Brighton.