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1

Chapter 1

Vol 1

The narrator begins with the statement: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."

Then the narrator begins the story. One day in their modest house in Longbourn, Mrs. Bennet shares some news with her husband, Mr. Bennet. A wealthy young gentleman, Charles Bingley, has just rented the nearby estate of Netherfield. Mrs. Bennet twitters with excitement because she wants him to meet her daughters and hopefully marry one.

* One of the most famous lines in literature, the opening establishes the pursuit of marriage as central to the social world of the English gentry. In addition, the claim that a wealthy man must be looking for a wife shows how desperately important it was for women to marry wealthy men. In Austen's time, they had no other means of support.

Mrs. Bennet asks her husband to get them an introduction. Mr. Bennet purposely frustrates his wife by sarcastically replying that he'll write to give his consent for Bingley to marry any of his daughters, especially Elizabeth, whom he considers especially bright.

* In terms of taking an interest in their daughters' futures, Mr. Bennet and Mrs. Bennet are polar opposites: she gets involved while he remains distant and makes jokes.

 

2

Chapter 2

Vol 1

Mr Bennet infuriates his wife by pretending to show no interest in this eligible bachelor. In fact he is one of the first people to call. Without telling his family, Mr. Bennet visits Bingley. Back at home, Mr. Bennet teases his family by pretending to be uninterested in Bingley's arrival, only to then reveal his visit by asking Elizabeth when the next ball is scheduled and promising to introduce her to Bingley beforehand.

* It was inappropriate for women to seek a direct introduction to men, so Mr. Bennet must initially act as the mediator. Mr. Bennet's visit shows that even he recognizes the importance of making a match.

Mrs. Bennet is delighted and praises her husband and his little joke. She promises all the girls that they'll get a chance to dance with Bingley.

* This is an early sign of Mrs. Bennet's fickle character. She can snap from disapproval to approval.

Stylistically these first chapters offer a mix of ironic comment by the narrator and revealing dialogue within the family.

3

Chapter 3

Vol 1

Mr. Bingley pays a return visit to Mr. Bennet and is subsequently invited to dinner at Longbourn. Elaborate plans are made, but Bingley breaks them because of urgent business in London. He soon returns, however, along with his sister Mrs. Hurst and her husband, his youngest sister Caroline, and his friend Darcy for the upcoming ball.

* Austen focuses on just a few families of different status—the extremely wealthy upper class (Bingley and Darcy) and the less wealthy country gentry (the Bennets)—in order to reveal the class dynamics of her society on a small scale.

The ball takes place at Meryton, where the locals gossip about the newcomers. Darcy is handsome but proud and aloof. Bingley makes friends with everyone, dancing every dance, including several with Jane, which makes the Bennets very happy.

* Balls were among the few socially acceptable venues for mingling between the sexes. Here the locals make character judgments based on appearances and first impressions.

Elizabeth overhears Bingley tell Darcy that Jane is the most beautiful girl he's ever seen. Bingley demands that Darcy find someone to dance with, and suggests Elizabeth. Darcy says she isn't pretty enough for him. Elizabeth overhears, and is annoyed.

* Initially prideful, Darcy doesn't think these country people are good enough for him. Elizabeth has pride, too: though looks aren't everything to her, Darcy's insult still stings.

Returning home, Mrs. Bennet regales her husband with an abundance of details. She is excited for Jane and convinced of Bingley's interest in her, and detests Darcy for his attitude about Elizabeth.

* Mrs. Bennet's attitude toward Darcy and Bingley is already fixed, showing how strong prejudices can be once formed.

4

Chapter 4

Vol 1

Upstairs, Jane and Elizabeth talk more openly about their admiration for Bingley's looks, humor, and manners. Jane is reluctant to say anything bad about Bingley's sisters, but Elizabeth is skeptical of them. She thinks they are educated and polished, but conceited.

* Elizabeth is quick to judge and is unimpressed by the higher class. On the other hand, Jane refuses to judge anyone badly, which makes her seem angelic but also naÏve.

The narrator explains Bingley's background: he has a respectable family; he inherited £100,000 and may be looking to buy an estate; and he's renting Netherfield in the meantime.

* His sisters, Mrs. Hurst and Caroline, are very happy to follow him around. £100,000 is a lot of money, making Bingley very high class. At the same time, Bingley's lack of a home reflects his immaturity and lack of confidence in his decisions.

Bingley and Darcy's friendship is explained as a meeting of opposites: Bingley's easy manner and Darcy's more stringent personality. Bingley deeply respects Darcy's judgment. But their demeanors are different. Anywhere they go, Bingley is sociable and well-liked, while Darcy is always so aloof that he offends people. After the ball, Bingley was delighted with the locals (especially Jane) but Darcy considered them plain and uninteresting.

* Novels about marriages are frequently concerned with bringing two parties with different characteristics into harmony. Friends like Bingley and Darcy are also opposites: each has some admirable and some weak traits that the other helps to expose and resolve.

5

Chapter 5

Vol 1

The next morning, the Bennet women walk over to discuss the ball with their neighbors: Sir William Lucas, Lady Lucas, and Charlotte, who is their eldest daughter and is Elizabeth's close friend.

* The Lucas family can sympathize with the Bennets because their daughters will also need husbands.

Everyone agrees that Bingley liked Jane. The conversation quickly shifts to Darcy. Apparently he offended everyone who tried to speak with him. Charlotte consoles Elizabeth about Darcy's insult and wishes he would have agreed to a dance, but she adds that Darcy's pride may be forgiven because of his high standing and fortune. Elizabeth responds that she could forgive his pride if he hadn't insulted her own.

* Here Charlotte suggests that pride isn't always bad. Indeed, pride can help protect a family reputation, or can provide the motivation to help people. Charlotte also implies that sometimes men's faults have to be overlooked when you're on the hunt for a husband. 

Mary pompously lectures the group about human nature. She clarifies that pride is self-regard while vanity concerns what others think of you.

* Mary represents a very strict by-the-book type of morality that, Austen makes clear, needs to be tempered with experience.

6

Chapter 6

Vol 1

Bingley's sisters soon start exchanging visits with Jane and Elizabeth. Elizabeth suspects they are only nice to Jane because of Bingley, whose admiration for Jane seems to grow with every meeting.

* Social interaction among gentry had to follow precise guidelines, making it difficult to discern how people really felt. Elizabeth must read between the lines.

Suspecting that Jane is falling in love, Elizabeth admires her sister's composure. She privately mentions it to Charlotte Lucas, who warns that women who don't show their affection risk losing the objects of it. Elizabeth considers this attitude too businesslike; besides, Jane can't know her true feelings yet.

Charlotte replies that happiness in marriage happens only by chance. Elizabeth believes that an individual should act with dignity and follow his or her feelings. In Charlotte's view, one's dignity and emotions must come second to the pragmatic concerns of finding financial security through marriage. 

* The key theme of marriage as an economic necessity is discussed by Charlotte and Elizabeth from different perspectives. Problems between Jane and Bingley due to Jane’s habit of concealing her feelings are foreshadowed.

 

Meanwhile, as he spends more time with her, Darcy begins to notice Elizabeth's beauty and verve. At a party, Sir William Lucas tries to set up Darcy and Elizabeth to dance, but she refuses. Later, Darcy tells Caroline that Elizabeth has captured his admiration, though to Caroline's relief he seems to show no interest in marrying Elizabeth and gaining Mrs. Bennet as a mother-in-law.

* Darcy’s physical response to Elizabeth is forcing him to reconsider his first impressions. She, however, is much slower to think again.

* Darcy was prejudiced against Elizabeth because of her lower social standing, but time and exposure starts to change his first impressions. This shift shows Darcy's capacity to change. Even so, he still deplores Elizabeth's family's behavior and can't imagine joining their family through marriage. Themes

7

Chapter 7

Vol 1

Soon after, Kitty and Lydia Bennet are thrilled to learn that a military regiment is being stationed in Meryton. They make frequent visits to Mrs. Philips to learn all they can about the officers. Mr. Bennet dismisses the girls as incredibly silly.

* Compared to gentlemen like Bingley and Darcy, military officers offered a slightly less but still respectable option for marrying.

A letter arrives to Jane from Caroline Bingley inviting her to visit. Mrs. Bennet schemes to send Jane on horseback, even though it will rain, so that she will have to spend the night at Netherfield.

* Mrs. Bennet is so desperate to get Jane married to a wealthy man that she's willing to risk her daughter's health by denying her shelter from the storm.

The next morning, Jane sends Elizabeth a letter explaining that she caught a bad cold in the storm. Elizabeth walks the three miles to Netherfield to care for Jane, arriving dirty and tired. Caroline later mocks Elizabeth's appearance, but Darcy is moved by the glow of exercise on Elizabeth's face. Jane's condition soon worsens and Elizabeth is invited to stay at Netherfield too.

* While Elizabeth displays great loyalty to her sister, her appearance strikes Bingley's sisters as undignified. Darcy might have thought the same thing before, but now his view of Elizabeth is influenced by his growing feelings for her.

8

Chapter 8

Vol 1

During the conversation at dinner, Elizabeth accepts, but sees through, the empty concern that Mrs. Hurst and Caroline show for Jane. Still, she is grateful to Bingley for his sincere interest in Jane.

* Elizabeth continues to value character over class. She seems to have good intuition about people's true character.

When Elizabeth returns upstairs, Mrs. Hurst and Caroline criticize her looks, manners, and judgment. Mrs. Hurst says she does really like Jane, but that her family situation—having few connections and no money—will block her hopes of making a good match. Darcy agrees.

* The high class women show their prejudice. Though Mrs. Hurst speaks as if in sympathy with Jane, she's deviously trying to ruin the chances of either Bennet sister by mentioning their "family situation."

Elizabeth returns downstairs in the evening, choosing to look through some books instead of joining in cards. Caroline, who has been absorbed with Darcy, asks him about his estate, Pemberley, and about his sister, who she deems a very accomplished woman. Darcy says he knows few women who are really accomplished. Elizabeth asks his definition of the term and, stunned by the long list of qualifications, expresses witty surprise that Darcy could know anyone who with all of those characteristics.

* By choosing books over the social fluff of cards, Elizabeth shows her inner substance. Plus she has the common sense to recognize the foolishness of society's unreasonable ideals about women. And she has the courage to say so in company. These characteristics distinguish her more than useless accomplishments would.

When Elizabeth leaves again, Caroline accuses her of using mean tactics to raise her own status.

* Ironic, because that's actually what Caroline is doing. Caroline wants Darcy, and puts down others to elevate herself in his eyes.

9

Chapter 9

Vol 1

Elizabeth sends home a note requesting that her mother come and visit Jane. Mrs. Bennet arrives with Lydia and, not wishing Jane to leave Bingley's company, declares that Jane seems worse than ever.

* Mrs. Bennet continues her ridiculous and manipulative campaign to "win" Bingley for Jane.

Mrs. Bennet, seeking to raise Jane's status, tries to impress Bingley about her family and their situation in the country. Darcy suggests that one finds more variety of character in town than in the country, but Mrs. Bennet loudly objects. Everyone is surprised. Elizabeth is mortified and tries her best to fill the awkward silence.

* By talking up the Bennets' status, Mrs. Bennet actually degrades it by seeming crass, foolishly proud, and clearly not of the best class or character. If you're high class, you don't need to tell others about it—they just know.

Lydia jumps in to remind Bingley of his promise to give a ball at Netherfield. Bingley says he hasn't forgotten but will wait until Jane recovers.

* Lydia's insistence is impolite. Bingley, with his better breeding, turns it into a compliment to Jane.

10

Chapter 10

Vol 1

The next day, Elizabeth joins the evening party in the drawing room. Caroline looks on as Darcy tries to write a letter. Trying to flatter him, she offers empty compliments about his writing, but only manages to interrupt him.

* Whenever a character in P+P tries to scheme their way to social advantage, they invariably end up with the opposite result.

Elizabeth and Darcy get into an argument about Bingley's character. Darcy says that people should always follow their convictions. Elizabeth counters that sometimes regard for others must modify one's conduct. But Bingley, hating conflict, stops them. Darcy reiterates his pride in his own beliefs.

* Elizabeth pridefully believes that she considers other people's views, but events will show that she really just follows her own prejudices.

As Bingley's sisters sing at the piano, Elizabeth notices that she seems to fascinate Darcy. He asks her to dance and she playfully refuses. Still, Darcy is bewitched: he thinks that if it wasn't for her lowly connections, he might fall in love.

* Elizabeth attracts Darcy by standing up to him. Yet class and pride are so important for Darcy that attraction alone won't suffice. 

Caroline is increasingly jealous. The next day, she takes Darcy on a walk to tease him about marrying Elizabeth and about the awful family he would join.

* Caroline tries to exploit Darcy's pride in the integrity of his family to protect her chances with him.

11

Chapter 1

Vol 1

That evening, Jane is well enough to join the group. Bingley dotes on her and talks to no one else. Caroline, watching Darcy read, pretends to be absorbed in reading a book. But she's soon bored and suggests to Elizabeth that they walk around the room together. This gets Darcy's attention.

* Conversation, books, walks: these are the few tools of seduction in Austen's world. Caroline has to work to get Darcy's attention. But by doing what comes natural to her, Elizabeth gets it anyway.

Caroline invites Darcy to join them, but he says he doesn't want to interfere: they must either be sharing secrets or showing off—in which case he's happy to watch.

* Sexual attraction in the novel are expressed only in little comments like these. But it's definitely there. 

Elizabeth advises Caroline that the best response is to laugh at what is ridiculous, which leads to a discussion of the aspects of Darcy's character that might be ridiculed. Darcy claims that his main fault is that "my good opinion once lost is lost forever." When Elizabeth retorts that it is difficult to laugh at a "propensity to hate every body," Darcy says that if his defect is holding grudges, Elizabeth's is misunderstanding people.

* Darcy incorrectly identifies his own flaw, which is the immense pride he takes in himself and his social standing. But he correctly diagnoses Elizabeth's: she believes so fully in her own ability to see to the heart of things that she becomes subject to her prejudices and blinds herself to the truth.

12

Chapter 12

Vol 1

Elizabeth and Jane write to Mrs. Bennet to send their carriage to take them home. Mrs. Bennet, still scheming to have them stay, replies that it isn't available. So Elizabeth and Jane have to borrow Bingley's carriage instead.

* Mrs. Bennet's schemes to get Jane married to Bingley force her daughters to be beggars, making the Bennet family as a whole look bad.

Darcy is relieved: he is starting to worry that his attraction to Elizabeth might show, so he remains distant for the short remainder of her stay.

* Darcy has not overcome his prejudice against the Bennet's low connections.

Though Mrs. Bennet is disappointed that Jane and Elizabeth didn't stay, Mr. Bennet is glad to have them back. He had missed their conversation amid Kitty and Lydia's infatuation with anything related to the regiment.

* Mr. Bennet wants to ignore his younger daughters' interest in the regiment, to remain detached from anything that strikes him as ridiculous. This will come back to haunt him.

13

Chapter 13

Vol 1

The next morning, Mr. Bennet reveals to his family that they will have a surprise guest: Mr. Collins, the relative who will inherit Mr. Bennet's estate. The news upsets Mrs. Bennet because Mr. Collins can legally kick Mrs. Bennet and her daughters out of the house when Mr. Bennet dies. But the tone of reconciliation in Mr. Collins' letter consoles her.

* Collins is Mr. Bennet's heir because women weren't allowed to inherit. This explains Mrs. Bennet's obsession about getting her daughters married. It was the only way to ensure their financial security, and her own if her husband died before she did.

The letter explains that Mr. Collins is now a parish rector and enjoys the patronage of Lady Catherine De Bourgh—whose wealth and generosity Mr. Collins tirelessly compliments. He now seeks to make peace in the family by some unspecified plan.

* Mr. Collins gets ahead in the world not through his own virtues, but by sucking up to the rich and by his almost arbitrary future inheritance of the Bennet's property.

When Mr. Collins arrives, he is heavy, pompous, and dull. His conversation is weighted with overwrought compliments and vague hints about making amends to the Bennet daughters.

* Austen makes Mr. Collins a ridiculous comic figure, in the process mocking all suck-ups.

14

Chapter 14

Vol 1

After dinner, Mr. Bennet gets Mr. Collins talking about his favorite subjects: his benefactress, Lady Catherine De Bourgh; her lavish estate, Rosings; and the invalid daughter who will inherit it all.

Mr. Bennet sits back to enjoy the absurdity of Mr. Collins's hollow praise and self-importance. 

* Although a clergyman, Mr. Collins is obsessed with the worldly glories of wealth and rank. Mr. Collins himself seems to have no center. He lives only to please Lady De Bourgh.

Mr. Bennet invites Mr. Collins to read to the ladies. Offered a novel, Mr. Collins flinches in disgust and chooses instead a book of sermons. Lydia, refusing to listen to this, interrupts with bits of news about Colonel Forster. Mr. Collins seems insulted, but accepts the family's apologies and joins Mr. Bennet in a game of backgammon.

* Austen uses Mr. Collin's distaste for novels to poke fun at the then-common prejudice against the immorality of novels. But Mr. Collins' readiness to play a board game instead of reading the scripture shows his shallow commitment to the gospel.

15

Chapter 15

Vol 1

Mr. Collins has come to Longbourn with a plan to marry one of the Bennet sisters. He believes that doing so will atone for the injustice of his taking over their inheritance. He privately tells Mrs. Bennet his intentions, and she redirects his target from Jane, whom she hopes will marry Bingley, to Elizabeth. Mr. Collins obligingly agrees to shift his focus.

* Mr. Collins' plan falls far short of providing the Bennet girls with any kind of self-determination. In addition, though he poses as a man of convictions, his love interest can change in the blink of an eye.

Mr. Collins joins the Bennet sisters in a walk to Meryton. There, everyone's attention is captured by a striking and unfamiliar young man: Mr. Wickham, who just accepted a post in the regiment. Wickham's conversation is friendly and lively. * Wickham is a master of first impressions. As such, he tests Elizabeth's belief that she can see through lies and falseness to uncover the truth in things.

Just then, Bingley and Darcy come up the street and stop to chat. When Darcy and Wickham see each other, each man recoils in shock. Elizabeth wonders how they know each other.

Mr. Collins and the Bennet sisters then go to visit Mrs. Philips who invites them to dinner the next night. The girls convince her to invite Wickham too.

* Austen creates tension here: the details Elizabeth most wants to know are the one she can't ask about, out of politeness. At this point, Elizabeth seems to like Wickham in part because he causes Darcy discomfort.

16

Chapter 16

Vol 1

At dinner the next evening, Elizabeth is fascinated by Wickham's pleasant demeanor. The two of them easily fall into conversation and Wickham soon asks about Darcy. Elizabeth says he is widely disliked for his pride. Wickham withholds an opinion out of respect for Darcy's father, who Wickham reveals was his godfather and dear friend.

* On the surface, Wickham is pleasant and well-mannered. Elizabeth will remember later that while Wickham says he withholds an opinion on Darcy, he soon goes ahead and gives one. But Elizabeth is under his spell and does not notice now. 

Wickham explains that he was the son of one of Darcy's father's employees, and that he and Darcy grew up together. Darcy's father died and left Wickham money to pursue a career in the ministry, but Darcy, who was jealous of his father's love for Wickham, found a loophole and refused to give Wickham the money. Elizabeth is shocked and appalled.

* With close relations to her own siblings and a keen sense of justice, Elizabeth is predisposed to believe Wickham's story. The story also fits perfectly with her own existing prejudices about Darcy.

Elizabeth asks about Darcy's sister, Georgiana. Wickham says that she is an accomplished young woman living in London but that she is, like her brother, distastefully proud.

* This is a lie, but Wickham is on a roll. He's trying to separate himself from his former victim and degrade her, too.

Wickham, hearing Mr. Collins go on about Lady Catherine, informs Elizabeth that Lady Catherine is actually Darcy's aunt. He adds that Lady Catherine apparently hopes to marry Darcy to her daughter. Such an arranged marriage would have been no surprise to Elizabeth.

* Lady Catherine seems to share Darcy's pride in their extreme high class status.

17

Chapter 17

Vol 1

The next day, Elizabeth tells Jane what she learned. Jane cannot believe that Darcy could be so blameworthy and that there must be other parts to the story. But Elizabeth believes Wickham, saying "there was truth in his looks." She wonders how Bingley could actually be Darcy's friend.

* Elizabeth dismisses Jane for only seeing the good in people. Yet at the same time, Elizabeth bases her own preference for Wickham entirely on his looks and on her own pride in her ability to read people.

Bingley and his sisters visit Longbourn with an invitation to a ball at Netherfield. Lydia and Kitty are overjoyed. Jane is excited to see Bingley, while Elizabeth looks forward to dancing with Wickham, though Mr. Collins requests that she give him the first two dances, which she must do out of politeness.

* Dancing is the closest thing to intimate physical contact allowed between unmarried people. It's a thrill.

18

Chapter 18

Vol 1

Arriving at the ball at Netherfield, Elizabeth is disappointed to realize that Wickham is not at the party. Elizabeth blames Darcy for Wickham's absence. She endures two dreadful dances with Mr. Collins.

* Because Elizabeth is set in her own prejudice, she interprets everything against Darcy and blames him for everything. 

Darcy then asks Elizabeth for a dance. Caught by surprise, she accepts. Their conversation is short and abrupt. Darcy is uncomfortable when she brings up Wickham.

* Darcy's dance invite shows his growing feelings for Elizabeth. But now Elizabeth's prejudice against him is in full effect.

Afterwards, Caroline approaches Elizabeth about Wickham. He wasn't wronged by Darcy, she says. On the contrary, Wickham treated Darcy terribly and now Darcy has nothing to do with him.

Jane, who has been speaking to Bingley, tells Elizabeth the same story: the fault, whatever it is, was Wickham's. But Elizabeth refuses to believe it.

* Elizabeth now has evidence, from various sources, that it was Wickham, not Darcy, in the wrong. But Elizabeth pridefully chooses to go with her prejudices against Darcy and for Wickham.

The rest of the evening is a disaster. Mr. Collins rudely introduces himself to Darcy and later pontificates to the whole assembly. Darcy overhears Mrs. Bennet talking about Jane and Bingley like they're already married. Mary insists on playing the piano, and does so awfully. And Mrs. Bennet conspires to be the last to leave.

* Realizing that her family's reputation is falling lower than ever, Elizabeth is mortified. Elizabeth and Jane have a social grace that their family members sorely lack. If Darcy's major concern about Elizabeth was her family, the Bennets do everything to prove that his prejudice against them is accurate.

19

Chapter 19

Vol 1

The next morning, Mr. Collins asks for a private meeting with Elizabeth. The rest of the family scrambles out of the room. When they are alone, Mr. Collins explains in detail his two main reasons for seeking marriage: all clergymen should marry, and Lady Catherine told him to do it. He details his income and stresses his future wife's association with Lady Catherine.

* Mr. Collins wants to marry because of outside pressures. As he explains his reason for marrying, it becomes clear that his wife will be merely an ornament in the "respectable" life he's creating for himself. 

Elizabeth interrupts to decline, but Mr. Collins responds that women will typically reject an offer two or three times. He goes on to say that Elizabeth should accept him because she's not likely ever to get a better offer. Elizabeth insists that she's serious, that she and Mr. Collins could not make each other happy. He doesn't understand. In exasperation, she leaves the room.

* Mr. Collins makes a valid point: based on her family and situation, Elizabeth isn't likely to get a better offer. By declining his offer, she is giving up her family's best hope to hold on to their home. Even so, Elizabeth believes too strongly in love to agree to marry a man whom she doesn't even like.

20

Chapter 20

Vol 1

Mrs. Bennet rushes in to congratulate Mr. Collins but is shocked to hear that Elizabeth refused him. She runs to Mr. Bennet and demands that he convince his daughter to accept.

* Although women could refuse a proposal, they were not expected to. Elizabeth shows her dedication to her happiness.

Mr. Bennet calmly calls in Elizabeth and, relishing the moment, tells her: "Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never you see you again if you do."

* Mr. Bennet deeply respects his daughter's intelligence. They share an ability to perceive the absurdity in the world.

Outraged, Mrs. Bennet tries to find support from anyone else: Jane, who keeps out of it, and then Charlotte Lucas, who has just arrived to visit. But it's too late. Mr. Collins soon explains to Mrs. Bennet that, though he's not insulted, he has changed his mind about wanting to marry Elizabeth.

* In contrast to Mr. Bennet, Mrs. Bennet doesn't really care about Elizabeth's happiness. She treats her daughters like chess pieces in a match-making game. Only marriage matters to her.

21

Chapter 21

Vol 1

Mr. Collins prolongs his stay, acting coldly to Elizabeth and transferring his attention to Charlotte Lucas.

* Mr. Collins wastes no time in changing the object of his shallow affection yet again.

One morning, the Bennet sisters walk to Meryton and meet Wickham who confirms to Elizabeth that he was avoiding Darcy at the ball. He walks them home and Elizabeth introduces him to her parents. Since she's interested in Wickham, Elizabeth believes everything he says.

* An introduction to her parents is significant: it sets the stage for courtship.

A letter from Caroline Bingley arrives for Jane, who reads it in distress. Upstairs, Jane shares the contents of the letter with Elizabeth. Everyone at Netherfield has left for London, not to return for at least six months, if ever. Caroline ends the letter by saying that she will be delighted to see Georgiana Darcy again, who she hopes will become Bingley's wife. Jane is despondent and refuses to believe that, as Elizabeth explains, Caroline is trying to break her and Bingley up while also gaining better footing with Darcy for herself. Elizabeth does manage to convince Jane that she shouldn't doubt Bingley's affections.

* Elizabeth can read between the lines to discern what's really going on. Caroline wants to prevent Jane from going any further with her brother because she does not want her own family associated with the Bennets for two reasons: she disdains them; and she believes that by marrying her brother to Georgiana she will improve her own chances with Georgiana's brother, Darcy.

22

Chapter 22

Vol 1

Charlotte Lucas has been attentive and encouraging to Mr. Collins. One morning he sneaks out to her house and delivers a long-winded marriage proposal. Aware of his shortcomings but wanting stability in her future, Charlotte accepts. Her parents, seeing her fortunes rise so quickly, are thrilled.

* Charlotte contrasts with Elizabeth in putting her future financial security before love. She knows that marriage is her only option to guard against a hard life.

Charlotte privately tells Elizabeth that she's engaged, and that all she wants is a comfortable home. Elizabeth is stunned but wishes Charlotte happiness. Afterwards, Elizabeth is disappointed that her friend is humiliating herself, having "sacrificed every better feeling to worldly advantage."

* Elizabeth thinks she could never marry just for financial advantage. But the reasons to marry are complicated. Even Elizabeth will later have a strong attraction to Darcy's magnificent estate.

23

Chapter 23

Vol 1

Sir William Lucas arrives to share his happy news. Mrs. Bennet and Lydia rudely exclaim that they cannot believe it, but Elizabeth intervenes to congratulate him on the match.

* Lydia and Mrs. Bennet are ignorant of social graces. Elizabeth constantly has to set the example for her family.

Mrs. Bennet fumes for days. She is angry with Elizabeth, the Lucases, and Charlotte, who will someday displace them at Longbourn. Her mood worsens when Mr. Collins returns to make wedding arrangements.

* Mrs. Bennet is so angry because Elizabeth's rejection of Collins eliminates her only guarantee that she would be able to stay in her house if Mr. Bennet should die.

Meanwhile, Jane and Elizabeth start to worry because Bingley has not written. Jane writes to Caroline. Elizabeth believes that Bingley truly cares for Jane, but fears that his sisters, Darcy, and London will prove stronger than his love for Jane.

* Elizabeth senses that Bingley is not completely confident and might be swayed by the prejudices of others.

24

Chapter 1 (24)

Vol 2

Caroline writes back: Bingley will certainly be gone for awhile and everyone is delighted with Darcy's sister, Georgiana. Jane tries to put on a brave face, telling Elizabeth that Bingley has not wronged her and refusing to believe that Caroline has ulterior motives.

* Jane again insists on seeing only the bright side, denying even her own hurt feelings. It's the opposite of prejudice, but it makes her just as blind as the prejudiced Elizabeth.

Elizabeth is disgusted that Bingley could be so weak as to let his sisters and friend determine his affections. She cites him and Charlotte as examples of human inconsistency. But Jane tells Elizabeth she judges them too harshly. Elizabeth complains that Bingley can't direct his own true feelings.

* This is ironic since Elizabeth's affections and prejudices are being guided by Wickham's suave lies.

Wickham occasionally visits and his pleasant company helps to dispel the gloom. Mr. Bennet encourages Elizabeth in her pursuit of Wickham.

* Mr. Bennet continually fails to understand what will be good for his daughters.

25

Chapter 2 (25)

Vol 2

Mr. Collins leaves again and Mrs. Bennet's brother and wife, Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, arrive for a visit. Mr. Gardiner is a tradesman in London. Mrs. Gardiner is intelligent and extremely well-liked by Jane and Elizabeth.

* The Gardiners represent the established middle class. They are a "lowly" family connection that might hurt the Bennet sisters' prospects of marrying well.

After listening sympathetically to Mrs. Bennet's outpouring of complaints, Mrs. Gardiner speaks with Elizabeth about Jane's situation. Elizabeth confirms that Jane was very much in love and swears that Bingley's departure was no accident.

* Mrs. Gardiner takes the place of Mrs. Bennet in soothing and restoring the family. She represents a stronger, sympathetic, and more sensible mother figure for the girls.

Mrs. Gardiner proposes that Jane come stay with them in London to help her recovery. While Mrs. Gardiner promises that Jane and Bingley are not likely to meet, Elizabeth secretly hopes that Jane's presence nearby will rekindle Bingley's affections.

* Because of their class, the Gardiners live in a very different part of town and travel in different social circles than Bingley and his family

26

Chapter 3 (26)

Vol 2

Having noticed the warmth between Elizabeth and Wickham, Mrs. Gardiner cautions Elizabeth about making an unpromising match, warning that Wickham has no fortune. Elizabeth can only promise that she won't rush into anything.

* Mrs. Gardiner recognizes the hard reality of needing to marry into a secure situation. Elizabeth is not convinced, and still is focused mainly on finding love.

Mr. Collins returns for his marriage to Charlotte. Before they leave, Charlotte makes Elizabeth agree to come visit. Once she is gone, Charlotte writes to Elizabeth frequently about her excellent situation with Mr. Collins, but Elizabeth has her doubts.

* Elizabeth thinks that anyone who gives up the hope of love in exchange for stability (particularly with a fool like Collins) can't be anything but miserable.

Jane travels with the Gardiners to London and writes a letter to Elizabeth. She says that she wrote to Caroline but received no reply, and then visited Caroline but was coldly received. Now four weeks have passed and Jane has heard nothing from Bingley, and when Caroline finally paid her a return visit she was again exceedingly cold.

* Caroline knows that Jane and Bingley, if they saw each other, would rekindle the spark. So while being careful to conform to the niceties of high class social interaction, she at the same time does everything she can to discourage and denigrate Jane.

Around the same time, Wickham's interest shifts from Elizabeth to a young woman who recently inherited £10,000. Elizabeth finds she isn't affected much by losing Wickham's attention. She realizes she was never in love with him and wishes him well.

* A double standard: Elizabeth judged Charlotte harshly for marrying for money, but excuses Wickham for seeking a fortune in marriage.

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Sir William Lucas, his youngest daughter, and Elizabeth go to visit Charlotte, stopping along the way in London to check up on Jane. Speaking privately with Elizabeth, Mrs. Gardiner confirms that Jane feels dejected, but she thinks that Jane has finally given up the illusion of Caroline's friendship.

* All the major characters in the novel grow and change: after her experiences in London, Jane starts to admit that people can have cruel and deceitful intentions. T

Mrs. Gardiner also consoles Elizabeth about losing Wickham. She considers his shift in attention to a suddenly-rich woman to be quite self-serving. But Elizabeth defends Wickham, reminding her aunt that she had once advised Elizabeth to think about money when marrying. Mrs. Gardiner later invites Elizabeth to join her and Mr. Gardiner on a summer tour of Derbyshire and the Lake Country. Elizabeth is delighted to accept.

* Apparently it's okay—even necessary—to marry for money, but not okay to make it obvious. Elizabeth points out the contradiction in what is considered socially acceptable behavior.

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Elizabeth, Sir William Lucas, and his daughter arrive at the parsonage home of Mr. Collins and Charlotte. Mr. Collins soon gives them a tour, taking pains to show off every architectural feature, garden view, and piece of furniture in the house.

* A parsonage home is the home given to a parish clergyman. But for a clergyman, Mr. Collins is obsessed with rank and riches. He seems to have things only in order to show them off.

If Charlotte is embarrassed by her husband, she hides it well. She takes Elizabeth on a tour of her neatly arranged home and Elizabeth realizes that Charlotte has made herself a comfortable life here.

* Elizabeth realizes that while Charlotte's choice may mean that she doesn't have love, she has found contentment.

The next day, the arrival of a carriage at Rosings containing the young and sickly Miss De Bourgh causes a great commotion. Everyone is invited to dinner at Rosings. Elizabeth smirks that the sickly Miss De Bourgh will make the perfect wife for Darcy. * Miss De Bourgh is the exact opposite of Elizabeth. She has all the class and wealth, but none of Elizabeth's beauty or intelligence.

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Mr. Collins gloats as they prepare for the dinner. He condescendingly tells Elizabeth not to worry that her best dress is simple, because Lady Catherine "likes to have the distinction of rank preserved."

* Class rank is not about personal substance: it is all about the outward and arbitrary. T

At Rosings, they meet the haughty Lady Catherine, whose conversation consists entirely of commands and strong opinions. Mr. Collins and Sir William Lucas suck up to her, agreeing with everything she says. Miss De Bourgh is uncommunicative and dull.

* Lady Catherine has more pride than anyone in the book. She is also friendless and can only interact by commanding people.

After lecturing Charlotte about how to run her household, Lady Catherine asks Elizabeth a series of invasive questions about her family, property, and upbringing. She disapproves of the Bennets' choices—educating their own daughters, failing to provide musical training—and is astonished that Elizabeth answers so pointedly, offering her own opinions to counter Lady Catherine's.

* Lady Catherine, like Darcy, believes in a set of "accomplishments" for women. In contrast, Elizabeth is self-made and proud of having determined her own character.

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Completely satisfied with his daughter's situation, Sir William Lucas soon departs. Elizabeth and Charlotte pass the time in her drawing room, conveniently separated from Mr. Collins's room. Their dinners at Rosings continue. Lady Catherine also visits them at the parsonage, though seemingly only to dispense advice about everything she notices.

* Charlotte's contentment in marriage is based on being as separate from Mr. Collins as possible. Lady Catherine believes so strongly in her high-class superiority that she thinks nothing of telling "lower class" people what to do.

Lady Catherine has arranged a visit from her nephews: Darcy (her favorite) and Colonel Fitzwilliam, his cousin. Upon their arrival, Mr. Collins brings them home for a visit. Darcy meets Elizabeth with his usual reserve. Conversation is sparse. Darcy seems uncomfortable when Elizabeth asks if he ever sees Jane in London, but the moment passes.

* Lady Catherine wants nothing but the best for Darcy, which of course means her own high-class daughter. Elizabeth's prejudice toward Darcy for breaking up Jane and Bingley remains, and Darcy's reaction shows her attack is on point.