Summary of the Novel
Mr. and Mrs. Bennet are intent on having their five daughters marry above their middle-class station. A rich, single man, Charles Bingley rents an estate, Netherfield, nearby. Mrs. Bennet pushes her husband to immediately introduce himself and form an acquaintance. He obliges reluctantly. At a ball, all the Bennets are introduced to the Bingley party. Everyone likes the courteous Mr. Bingley, but his close friend, Fitzwilliam Darcy, is thought to be too arrogant and filled with unconcealed pride and vanity. He won’t dance with anyone outside of his own group or deign to speak with them. He states, within Elizabeth Bennet’s hearing, that “she is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me.”
Mr. Bingley’s affection for Jane develops quickly, to the concern of his sisters and Mr. Darcy. They can’t tolerate her lower status, and are embarrassed by her family’s manners and actions. Mr. Darcy, in spite of his better wisdom, becomes infatuated with Elizabeth. He is drawn to her uncensored wit and fine eyes. Miss Bingley’s jealous criticisms of her do nothing to lessen his admiration. Miss Bingley has made plans to entrap him for herself, but they seem blocked.
Caroline Bingley invites Jane to Netherfield. While she is en route, in the rain, Jane catches a severe cold. She is forced to stay at the estate and be treated by a local apothecary. Mrs. Bennet is delighted, because this puts Jane in proximity with Mr. Bingley and his wealth. Jane becomes more ill, and her sister Elizabeth goes to Netherfield to nurse her. The concern for her sister and strength of character appeal to Mr. Darcy, but he is afraid of his infatuation with someone who is economically inferior. The Bennet sisters’ departure after six days relieves nearly everyone.
Mr. Bennet’s estate, Longbourn, is entailed (by law bequeathed) to Mr. Collins, a clergyman and cousin. This is because he has no son; thus, his property will go after his death to Collins as the nearest male relative. Mr. Bennet receives an inane letter from Collins, apologizing for the entail, and hinting at the possibility of marriage with one of the Bennet daughters. He arranges for a fortnight stay at Longbourn, where his officious stupidity delights Mr. Bennet’s keen satiric sense, repels Elizabeth, and endears him to the vacuous Mrs. Bennet.
Mr. Bennet can’t wait for him to depart and soon tires of his praise of his patron, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. He sends his cousin on an errand to Meryton with his daughters. There, they meet George Wickham, a handsome and personable military officer. Elizabeth is intrigued when Wickham and Darcy, who obviously know each other, meet on the street and both seem uncomfortable. At a ball, soon after, Wickham tells his life story to Elizabeth. He states that Darcy disobeyed his own father’s will out of resentment. (Wickham was a ward of Darcy’s father and had been promised revenue for a clergyman’s position.) Wickham’s story makes Darcy look cruel and self-indulgent. Elizabeth buys this account, because she has pre-determined, negative views of Mr. Darcy’s arrogance and pride.
Elizabeth becomes infatuated with the charming Wickham, as do her younger sisters. She resents his absence from the ball thrown by Mr. Bingley at Netherfield. She attributes his lack of attendance to a dispute between Wickham and Darcy, because Wickham has persuaded her of Darcy’s bad character. She annoys Darcy by bringing up the subject, and is puzzled by his persistence in approaching her, as she does not know of his attraction. Elizabeth is mortified by her family’s behavior that evening. Mrs. Bennet loudly proclaims the merits of a match between Jane and Mr. Bingley. Mary, her sister, bores everyone with her mediocre piano playing. Mr. Collins, her cousin, gracelessly proposes marriage, and she is further embarrassed. He wants a marriage of convenience, and she wants no part of it. She tries to convince him that her refusal is earnest. The support of her father makes Collins see the truth.
The Bingley party leaves Netherfield for London, and Caroline Bingley writes to Jane to inform her that they won’t return until winter. She hints in her letter that Mr. Bingley intends to court Georgiana Darcy. This is a match that has been determined for years between the families.
Elizabeth rightly discerns that Bingley’s sisters and friend are trying to keep him from the Bennets. Her family is not prominent enough for their aspirations.
Mr. Collins, rejected by Elizabeth, is consoled by Charlotte Lucas, her best friend. To Elizabeth’s great surprise and astonishment, Charlotte plots to marry Mr. Collins, “from the pure and disinterested desire of an establishment.” She had always considered herself plain and almost an old maid, so she snaps at a chance to be a respectable lady of society. He proposes, they marry, and they leave for their residence near Rosings. Elizabeth later accepts Charlotte’s invitation to visit her in her new establishment. Elizabeth is gratified that Charlotte has taken charge, choosing not to react to her husband’s stupidity or her patron’s insolent behavior. Lady Catherine de Bourgh is a tyrannical despot. She tells everybody what to do, and is not to be contradicted. She plans to unite the family estates by marrying her daughter to Mr. Darcy, who is due to arrive at Easter.
Darcy continues to court Elizabeth. He seeks her companionship, but says little. One night, he declares his love and proposes. He is discourteous, and stresses his family’s superiority. Elizabeth is as angry as she is astonished. His seeming pride is unbearable to her, and she adamantly refuses his declaration and derides him. She accuses him of breaking up Jane and Bingley, and ruining young Mr. Wickham’s reputation. Darcy acknowledges both charges without seeming remorse or explanation, and leaves her with a cold, indifferent attitude.
The next morning, Darcy finds Elizabeth on one of her walks. He delivers a letter, which tries to answer her reproaches. Darcy intervened in Bingley’s romance because he wanted him to marry a wealthy person, and he was not convinced that Jane was truly in love with him. Jane’s placid manner never convinced him that there was any deep emotion between them. He went on to add that the Bennet family left a lot to be desired. Mrs. Bennet was vacuous, Mr. Bennet, indifferent and unequivocally negligent, and the two younger daughters were flirtatious and empty-headed. No criticism was leveled at either Jane or Elizabeth. He revealed that Wickham was a man without principle, and had presented his case falsely. Her former prejudice was now quite jarred, and she had to contemplate the probability of this being true.
Elizabeth and her Aunt and Uncle Gardiner set off on a tour. One of their unofficial stops is at Derbyshire, which is her aunt’s and Darcy’s home county. Since they are in the vicinity of Pemberley, Darcy’s estate, Mrs. Gardiner wants to visit it. Elizabeth has apprehensions, but does not object when she learns the owner is away. She finds Pemberley extremely pleasant. The house is prestigious, and the gardens lavish. Elizabeth muses that if she had been more perceptive and indulgent, this place could have been hers. She hears the housekeeper’s glowing description of Darcy as being extremely good-natured and generous to the poor. Darcy unexpectedly appears, a day early, and both he and Elizabeth are embarrassed. Darcy is attentive and gracious and extremely cordial to the unpretentious aunt and uncle. Darcy insists upon Elizabeth meeting his sister, and they call the next day at the inn. The formidable Miss Darcy seems not proud, but shy. She barely is able to carry on a conversation without deference to her brother. There is much affinity between the two. It is not as obvious to Elizabeth that Darcy is still in love with her. The Gardiners see this, but await Elizabeth’s version. When Mrs. Gardiner and Elizabeth go to Pemberley for a requested return visit, Miss Bingley tries in vain to insult Elizabeth in her presence and behind her back. She fails completely to work her will on Darcy.
In the midst of her happiness, Elizabeth receives two letters from her sister Jane. They say that Lydia has eloped with Wickham. The pair left Brighton for London and are not presumably married. Elizabeth fears that her sister is permanently disgraced, and that her own re-discovered love for Darcy can never result in marriage. She and the Gardiners leave for home as fast as they can make preparations.
The eloped pair is elusive for several days. Mr. Bennet went after them, but returns home unfulfilled. Mr. Gardiner, who took the matter into his own hands, writes and states that they have been found. He adds that Lydia has agreed to a quick marriage. All of this has been arranged by Darcy. He works secretly to pay off Wickham’s gambling debts and ensure a suitable dowry. Mrs. Bennet is ecstatic about this development. Mr. Bennet, Elizabeth, and Jane are sure that Mr. Gardiner must have paid out a tidy sum to get Lydia married officially and save the family name. Little do they realize that it was Darcy’s work.
Mr. Darcy confronted Wickham, bribed him and offered a commission in the army if he would marry Lydia. He did this because of his love for Elizabeth, and because of his sense of blame for Wickham’s irresponsibility.
Lydia and Wickham visit Longbourn as a married couple. Elizabeth inadvertently learns of Darcy’s involvement in the marriage when Lydia passes on a confidence. She gets the complete story when she writes to Mrs. Gardiner.
Bingley returns to Netherfield and falls in love with Jane again. After a while, he proposes. She accepts. Mrs. Bennet’s joy is lessened by the appearance of Darcy, whom she has always distrusted.
Lady Catherine de Bourgh arrives at Longbourn, after hearing a rumor that Darcy is enraptured with Elizabeth. She ridicules Elizabeth and demands her to reject a proposal from Darcy. Elizabeth’s answer is reserved. Lady Catherine speaks with Darcy. This only lets Darcy acknowledge that Elizabeth has had a change of heart, and he renews his proposal to her. This time it is met with a positive attitude.
Austen’s fiction reveals little awareness of the political and economic turmoil that pervaded Europe during her lifetime. Wars, such as the Napoleonic Wars, did not affect her middle-class upbringing. The lower classes were recruited, and the upper class purchased commissions and became gentleman officers who enjoyed social prestige.
During Austen’s life, the countryside was fragmented into semi-isolated agricultural villages and provincial settlements. London, the only metropolis, was the center of commerce and the arts. Austen had exposure to all three of these areas, and her insights into this society are often reflected in her novels. She was born during the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Great social unrest was spawned from miserable conditions in factories, and widespread unemployment resulted. The middle classes adopted a laissez-faire attitude. They soon developed methods to mobilize and discipline labor for factory employment. Parliamentary acts established the institutional basis for efficient city, government, and municipal services. Urban police, compulsory education, and government inspection of factories, schools, and poorhouses evolved.
English life was increasingly regulated by central rather than local authority. The working classes, with improved educational opportunities, were raised to a new level of respectability.
During the time that Napoleon was transforming Europe, Jane Austen composed a novel in which the most important events are the fact that a man changes his manners and a young lady changes her mind. Soldiers do appear, but in a secondary role, as fixations of young frivolous women. In one case this even presents an elopement.
List of Characters
Elizabeth Bennet—The proud and witty heroine of the story.
Fitzwilliam Darcy—The rich and arrogant man who is enamored with Elizabeth and eventually has her fall in love with him.
Mr. Bennet—The dry and somewhat negligent father of Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Kitty, and Lydia.
Mrs. Bennet—The muddle-headed and unrealistic mother of Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Kitty, and Lydia.
Jane Bennet—The eldest of the Bennet daughters, she is mild-mannered and restrained.
Mary Bennet—The frivolous and pompous third daughter.
Lydia Bennet—The youngest daughter, spoiled by her mother, flighty (an “airhead”).
Catherine (Kitty) Bennet—The man-crazy daughter. She is similar to Lydia, but sullen and moody.
George Wickham—The handsome, unprincipled officer who has a grudge against Darcy.
Charles Bingley—Darcy’s close friend, the suitor who falls in love with Jane.
Caroline Bingley—Charles’ cold and indulgent sister. She is enamored with Mr. Darcy.
Colonel Fitzwilliam—Darcy’s mild-mannered cousin. He is attracted to Elizabeth, but she rejects him.
Lady Catherine de Bourgh—Darcy’s pretentious, saucy aunt.
Miss de Bourgh—Lady Catherine’s unsavory daughter.
Mr. Collins—Mr. Bennet’s cousin. He will inherit Longbourn after Bennet’s death as Bennet has no son.
Georgiana Darcy—Darcy’s timid but well-meaning sister.
Sir William and Lady Lucas—The Bennets’ neighbors. Parents of Charlotte.
Charlotte Lucas—Elizabeth’s accommodating and intelligent friend. She marries Mr. Collins for money, much to Elizabeth’s dismay.
Mr. and Mrs. Hurst—Bingley’s conceited sister and his lazy brother-in-law.
Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner—Mrs. Bennet’s well-educated and intelligent brother and her sister-in-law.
Mrs. Annesley—Georgiana’s elderly governess.
Mrs. Reynolds—Darcy’s housekeeper at Pemberley who speaks highly of him.
Miss Jenkinson—Tutor of Miss de Bourgh.
Mrs. Forster—The wife of an army colonel and a friend of Lydia’s who invites her to Brighton.
Mrs. Hill—The Bennets’ housekeeper.
Estimated Reading Time
Fifteen hours should be allowed for the study of Pride and Prejudice. The chapters are grouped into sections. The chapters are short, but they should be read closely to capture nuances of plot and characterization. After reading each section, the student should answer all study questions to insure understanding and comprehension. The essay questions are guide-lines to be used, if needed.
Summary (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Pride and Prejudice is the best known of Austen’s six novels and ranks among her finest work. As in Sense and Sensibility, its story centers on two sisters, Jane and Elizabeth Bennet. Jane falls in love early in the book with the amiable, wealthy Charles Bingley. Bingley returns her sentiments but is temporarily persuaded to abandon the romance at the urging of his friend, Mr. Darcy, who does not detect love in Jane’s discreet manner.
The book’s true center, however, is the complex relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy. Both are intelligent and forthright, but their initial impressions blind them to the qualities in each other that will eventually form the basis for their love. Darcy is indeed proud and feels himself above the less refined country families in whose company he finds himself during his visit to Bingley. Elizabeth’s mother, a vain, silly woman who is often a source of embarrassment to her daughter, is also an object of Darcy’s scorn. When she overhears Darcy’s assessment of her and her family, Elizabeth’s own pride is wounded; she dismisses him as a proud, disagreeable man and is more than willing to believe the lies she is told about him by the charming, deceitful Wickham. For his part, Darcy’s pride in his position and his family cause him at first to resist his attraction to Elizabeth and later to propose to her in a manner that she finds even more offensive than his initial hauteur.
(The entire section is 546 words.)
Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
The chief business of Mrs. Bennet’s life is to find suitable husbands for her five daughters. Consequently, she is elated when she hears that nearby Netherfield Park has been let to a Mr. Bingley, a gentleman from the north of England. Gossip reports him to be a rich and eligible young bachelor. Mr. Bingley’s first public appearance in the neighborhood is at a ball. With him are his two sisters, the husband of the older, and Mr. Darcy, Bingley’s friend.
Bingley is an immediate success in local society, and he and Jane, the oldest Bennet daughter, a pretty girl of sweet and gentle disposition, are attracted to each other at once. His friend, Darcy, however, seems cold and extremely proud and creates a bad impression. In particular, he insults Elizabeth Bennet, a girl of spirit and intelligence and her father’s favorite, by refusing to dance with her when she is sitting down for lack of a partner; he says in her hearing that he is in no mood to prefer young ladies slighted by other men. On later occasions, however, he begins to admire Elizabeth in spite of himself, and at one party she has the satisfaction of refusing him a dance.
Jane’s romance with Bingley flourishes quietly, aided by family calls, dinners, and balls. His sisters pretend great fondness for Jane, who believes them completely sincere. Elizabeth is more critical and discerning; she suspects them of hypocrisy, and quite rightly, for they make great fun of Jane’s...
(The entire section is 1813 words.)
Pride and Prejudice is a love story that is both humorous and deeply serious. It is primarily concerned with the Bennets, a family with five daughters ranging in age from twenty-two to fifteen. The family children live well but know that when their father dies they will lose their home and property to their cousin Mr. Collins, simply because the family has no male heir. Mrs. Bennet, a comically deluded woman, believes that her main business is to arrange for her children to marry rich or, at worst, reputable gentlemen. Her husband, a genial wit, refuses to support her schemes but rarely hinders them. As a result, when experiences with bachelors of varying worth lead to problems and new emotions, the daughters must struggle on their own, without parental guidance.
The novel portrays two remarkable characters with whom generations of readers have fallen in love: Elizabeth Bennet, the talented, independent second daughter, and Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, a haughty aristocrat who sees through Mrs. Bennet's manipulations and believes the Bennet family to be beneath him. In turn, Elizabeth develops a blinding prejudice against Darcy and puts him down as no one has dared before. Their relationship—a combination of attraction and contempt—is certainly one of the most exciting in all literature.
Through its vivid characters, Pride and Prejudice contrasts many human qualities: depth and superficiality; honesty and dishonesty; pride and...
(The entire section is 272 words.)
Perhaps the most famous opening lines from any nineteenth-century novel are the opening lines to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."
These words are spoken by Mrs. Bennet to Mr. Bennet on the news that a gentleman of fortune has just moved to Netherfield Park, a nearby estate. The Bennets begin this story with a peculiar problem: they have five unmarried daughters and no sons. Their estate is entailed, or restricted in inheritance, to Mr. Collins, a family cousin. Upon Mr. Bennet's death, Mr. Collins will inherit the family lands, which will leave the Bennet daughters without a home or money. It becomes vital, therefore, that at least one of the daughters marries well in order to support and house their sisters (and mother if she is still alive) should they not be able to marry.
Shortly after arriving alone, Bingley brings to Netherfield his two sisters, Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst; his brother-in-law, Mr. Hurst; and his friend, Mr. Darcy, who also happens to be wealthy and unmarried. Not wanting to miss a favorable introduction to their new neighbors, Mrs. Bennet pleads with Mr. Bennet to call on Bingley so that she can begin introducing her daughters to him. Initially Mr. Bennet refuses to play any part in matching any one of his daughters with Bingley. He tells his wife that if she...
(The entire section is 1884 words.)
Summary and Analysis
Volume One, Chapter 1 Summary and Analysis
Mr. Bennet: The sarcastic, indifferent father
Mrs. Bennet: The foolish and unrestrained mother
Mr. and Mrs. Bennet are in their country home, and Mrs. Bennet informs her husband that a neighboring country estate has been rented by a young, wealthy, single gentleman named Bingley.
She insists that as soon as the young man settles in, Mr. Bennet must go visit him.
She already has made up her mind to snare him as the husband of one of her five eligible daughters.
Although Mr. Bennet teases his wife by saying all the daughters are silly and ignorant, he agrees to send Bingley a note telling him that, if he desires any of their daughters, it should be his favorite, Lizzy. Mr. Bennet favors Lizzy because he feels she is more intelligent than his other daughters.
They banter, and Mrs. Bennet again reminds him that he must go calling in person. Then, she complains of her nerves, and Mr. Bennet teases her more.
Discussion and Analysis
The opening sentence of this novel immediately catches one’s attention: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” It sets the ironic tone that implies that the novel will deal with universal truths. The latter part of the sentence relates to a common social situation, that a woman without a fortune...
(The entire section is 341 words.)
Volume One, Chapters 2-3 Summary and Analysis
Elizabeth (Lizzy) Bennet: the second daughter. She is intelligent, pretty, and independent
Jane Bennet: the eldest daughter. She is kind and beautiful, but too good-hearted
Catherine (Kitty) Bennet: next to the youngest daughter. She’s “boy crazy” and frivolous
Mary Bennet: the inarticulate third daughter, accomplished in provincial arts
Lydia Bennet: the youngest daughter. She is giddy, but is Mrs. Bennet’s favorite
Charlotte Lucas: Elizabeth’s best friend. She is sensible and intelligent but very plain-looking
Sir William and Lady Lucas: the neighbors of the Bennets and Charlotte’s parents
Charles Bingley: the handsome, single gentleman who moves next door. He becomes infatuated with Jane
Fitzwilliam Darcy: the proud, handsome aristocratic friend of Bingley
Mr. Bennet, without telling his family, has already called upon Mr. Bingley. He shocks the family when he relays this information and teases them. The girls all become inquisitive, and Mrs. Bennet is rapturous. She determines to ask Bingley to dinner in the near future. Mr. Bennet refuses to discuss with his family what Bingley looks or acts like, but a neighbor, Lady Lucas, drops by and gives a very favorable report.
A few days later, Mr. Bingley returns Mr. Bennet’s visit, and spends some time with him in his...
(The entire section is 555 words.)
Volume One, Chapters 4-8 Summary and Analysis
Mr. and Mrs. Hurst: Bingley’s “stuck-up” sister and his lazy brother-in-law
Caroline Bingley: Bingley’s selfish sister, who has aspirations of becoming Mrs. Darcy
Mr. and Mrs. Phillips: Mrs. Bennet’s sister and brother-in-law. They own a home in Meryton which Lydia and Kitty love to visit because of the nearby officers’ quarters
Chapter 4 describes the previous ball, and we are presented with the different reactions of Jane and Elizabeth. Then, in contrast, we learn the reactions of Darcy and Bingley. Elizabeth reproaches Jane for being “blind,” which is ironic because later she is the one who becomes blind to Darcy’s attention. Elizabeth seems to have a very perceptive nature, unless she is personally involved with the individual. Lizzy also chides Jane about being naive, thinking the best of everyone. Jane admits to her sister that she is quite impressed with Bingley. Darcy and Bingley express totally opposite views of the evening. Bingley enjoyed the people and the ball, but Darcy complained that they’re common people with little or no beauty or fashion.
Chapter 5 begins with Mrs. Bennet and her daughters visiting the Lucas’ home the next day. The women gossip and discuss the men and their manners. All are quite miffed with Darcy’s statement that Elizabeth was merely “tolerable.” They end in a big discussion of the...
(The entire section is 746 words.)
Volume One, Chapters 9-12 Summary and Analysis
Chapter 9 reveals the difference between Elizabeth and her mother. Elizabeth always displays proper social upbringing, but her mother is oblivious to what is right and proper.
After Elizabeth sends for them by note, Mrs. Bennet and the two youngest girls come to visit Jane. The druggist arrives at about the same time, and announces that Jane is too ill to travel. Several heated conversations take place between Elizabeth and Darcy. Her honesty and opinions begin to infatuate him.
Chapters 10 and 11 convey how Misses Bingley and Hurst interact with the sisters Jane and Elizabeth during Jane’s recuperation. Both the Bingley sisters are sarcastic and back-biting when they are out of earshot.
Jane recovers, and she and Elizabeth return home. Mrs. Bennet is not pleased. She had hoped the illness would continue so that closer proximity would have endeared Jane more to Bingley. Their homecoming is welcomed only by Mr. Bennet, who obviously missed Elizabeth and Jane.
Discussion and Analysis
Darcy and Elizabeth display a continuing relationship permeated with misunderstandings. When he asks her to dance at another ball, she refuses. She believes he sees her to be frivolous and immature. Darcy admits his attraction to her, but is restrained by her lack of social position which he considers an insurmountable obstacle.
In Chapter 11, Darcy says that every person has...
(The entire section is 310 words.)
Volume One, Chapters 13-18 Summary and Analysis
William Collins: Mr. Bennet’s cousin, who will inherit Longbourn after Mr. Bennet’s death
Lady Catherine de Bourgh: Darcy’s rich aunt and Mr. Collins’ benefactor
Mr. George Wickham: the handsome, young soldier who has a grudge against Darcy
Mr. Bennet receives a letter from his cousin, the Reverend Collins, who will one day inherit Longbourn. Mr. Bennet makes fun of his writing style and pomposity, and makes snide remarks about him to his family. Collins is planning a fortnight visit with them. He informs Mr. Bennet that he is looking for a proper wife, now that he has been assigned a parish post. If he should happen to select one of the Bennet daughters, it would help him feel less guilty about becoming the heir to Longbourn. Elizabeth questions whether this man can be sensible after evaluating his letter. Again, she shows her ability to see through other people’s motives.
Mr. Collins arrives promptly. He is a tall, portly man of 25, and given to pompous speech and manners. He looks at the young ladies in the manner of one who is buying livestock. Every piece of furniture is eyed and evaluated as if it were already his. He is attracted to Jane, but informed that she has a suitor, he settles on Elizabeth. His speech shows how he feels indebted to his sponsor, Lady Catherine. The glowing praise he heaps on her makes her seem saintly....
(The entire section is 712 words.)
Volume One, Chapters 19-23 Summary and Analysis
Collins requests an audience with Elizabeth after having told Mrs. Bennet that he means to propose. The proposal is clumsy and condescending. Elizabeth refuses to marry someone for a position or for convenience. She expresses her refusal vehemently.
In Chapter 20, she is backed by her father. Her mother says she will never be seen with her again unless she complies. The house is in an uproar when Charlotte Lucas arrives.
Bingley’s whole entourage leaves for London for an indefinite time, without even contacting the Bennets, as Jane learns in a letter. Mrs. Bennet’s idle boast at the ball of a match between Jane and Bingley determined Miss Bingley to prevent it, and she convinced Bingley that Jane is indifferent and unsuitable. She sends a letter to the distraught Jane that Bingley is planning to court Miss Darcy, and will be absent the whole winter.
By Chapter 22, Collins proposes to Charlotte. Elizabeth is appalled, her mother disconsolate, and Lady and Lord Lucas are ecstatic.
The section ends with Chapter 23’s general reflections on what has come before.
Discussion and Analysis
Elizabeth’s refusal of Collins’ proposal implies that she will marry only for romantic reasons. This is further supported by her disdain for Charlotte doing just the opposite. Mrs. Bennet wants the marriage, because Elizabeth is the least favorite of her daughters....
(The entire section is 367 words.)
Volume Two, Chapters 1-3 Summary and Analysis
Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner: Mrs. Bennet’s sophisticated brother and sister-in-law. Mrs. Gardiner is an intelligent and elegant young woman
When the section opens, Mr. Wickham is a frequent guest at the Bennet home, which casts an ever darker shadow over Darcy’s reputation.
Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, Mrs. Bennet’s brother and sister-in-law, arrive at Longbourn for the Christmas holidays. They are so unlike Mrs. Bennet, with their cultured manners and refinement, that it is hard to realize they could be related. Mrs. Gardiner is much like Elizabeth, and the two carry on lively discussions. Most of these center around Jane’s plight, and she invites Jane back to their home in London. She hopes such a change of scenery will elevate her spirits. Mr. Gardiner is a merchant, so it is almost certain that their circle of friends would not bring her in touch with Bingley. Elizabeth agrees, and says such an aristocrat like Darcy would never let his friends visit a middle-class neighborhood.
The Gardiners like Wickham, but Mrs. Gardiner has some reservations. She warns Elizabeth of an involvement with a person without money or position. Elizabeth realizes she doesn’t really love Wickham. When the Gardiners return to London, she writes to Mrs. Gardiner and tells her that Wickham is now pursuing a plain, 20 year old who has just received a large endowment from a deceased...
(The entire section is 467 words.)
Volume Two, Chapters 4-8 Summary and Analysis
Maria Lucas: Charlotte’s younger sister
Colonel Fitzwilliam: a handsome, well-bred cousin of Darcy who becomes infatuated with Elizabeth
Mrs. Jenkinson: the tutoress of Miss de Bourgh
Mrs. Gardiner and Elizabeth discuss marriage, Wickham, and money. When they stop for a night in London, Elizabeth is happy that Jane looks better and is enjoying her change of scenery.
Elizabeth, Charlotte’s father, and her sister, Maria, visit the parsonage for a fortnight, as they had planned earlier.
At the parsonage, Mr. Collins effusively praises his patroness, and tries to show Elizabeth what she missed by her refusal of his proposal. Elizabeth finds Lady Catherine to be rude, artificial, and condescending. The daughter receives Elizabeth’s pity for being reclusive.
During this visit, Darcy and his cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, arrive. Darcy is again attracted to Elizabeth, as is Fitzwilliam. Lady Catherine almost compels Elizabeth to play the piano for them at one of the requested dinner invitations, and then complains to Darcy about her style and lack of finesse. Darcy was attentive and enjoyed her performance.
Discussion and Analysis
Elizabeth’s arrival at the Collins’ parsonage is the essence of Chapters 4 and 5. She reaffirms her distaste for Collins, pities Charlotte’s position, and forms a...
(The entire section is 503 words.)
Volume Two, Chapters 9-12 Summary and Analysis
Darcy arrives at the door and finds only Elizabeth at home. They talk briefly. Charlotte suggests later to Elizabeth that he is in love with her. Elizabeth does not accept this as probable, and Charlotte sees it her way.
Elizabeth then meets Darcy more than once on walks through the estate's grounds.
Fitzwilliam admires Elizabeth, but because he is the younger son who will not inherit an estate, the match is improbable. In conversation, he lets slip that Darcy saved a friend from an inconvenient match. This news makes Elizabeth angry because she supposes the woman in question to be Jane. She stays away from the evening activities at Rosings, out of spite.
Elizabeth peruses all her letters from Jane and detects a sadness she had not perceived before. Her reserve to Darcy for his complicity makes her avoid his presence, and he calls on her at the parsonage. Darcy shocks her by professing his love for her and asks for her hand in marriage. He confesses that he fought his love for her, because of her family, but that his isn't much better. He feels his proposal is such an honor that she should be elated. She, however, is so incensed at his offer that she adamantly refuses. She blames him for the separation of Jane and Bingley, for his treatment of Wickham, and for his arrogance and selfish pride. She hurts him even more when she says his behavior is unlike that of a true gentleman. He leaves her coldly,...
(The entire section is 584 words.)
Volume Two, Chapters 13-19 Summary and Analysis
Mrs. Forster: the wife of an army colonel, and a friend of Lydia’s, who invites her to Brighton
While Elizabeth is taking her morning walk, Darcy arrives, gives her a letter, and abruptly leaves. The contents of the letter admit that he kept Bingley from Jane as Elizabeth had charged, but that he did so because Jane’s calm nature did not show a deep emotional tie. The second part of the letter goes on to list the improper behavior of members of her family. At first reading, Elizabeth is full of resentment and anger, but she soon realizes that his criticism may be harsh but valid. The third part of the letter details the relationship with Wickham, and how deceitful and dishonorable the man was in his version of their estrangement. On reflection, Elizabeth realizes that she has been wrong in her trust in Wickham and prejudices against Darcy. This knowledge of her own lack of discernment and the dishonor she has done Darcy throws her into a deep depression. She is filled with regret for having acted so blindly, and admits that only now is she beginning to know her own faults.
In the next chapter, Elizabeth and Maria leave the parsonage. Prior to their departure, they receive more unasked−for advice from Lady Catherine, and more pompous civilities from Mr. Collins. He again talks of his social position in another attempt to show her what she missed by her rejection of his...
(The entire section is 721 words.)
Volume Three, Chapters 1−5 Summary and Analysis
Mrs. Reynolds: Darcy’s housekeeper at Pemberley who speaks highly of him
Georgiana Darcy: Darcy’s shy but impeccably−mannered sister
Mrs. Annesley: Georgiana’s elderly governess
On a leisurely journey, the Gardiners and Elizabeth stop in Derbyshire to view Darcy’s beautiful estate, Pemberley.
The estate is elegant and tasteful, and the housekeeper is overly enthusiastic with praise of her master’s fine manners and honest nature. She mentions that he is often thought of as proud, but she will have none of that, having never seen an occasion where he has evidenced this. Darcy’s letter has made a great change in Elizabeth. She feels repentance for wrongly accusing him. She looks at his marvelous estate, and reflects that she could have been mistress of Pemberley, if she had been a better judge of character.
Darcy, who was not expected until the next day, appears while Elizabeth and the Gardiners are surveying his gardens. This causes embarrassment on both parts. As a true gentleman, Darcy treats them with civil manners and respect. Darcy is friendly and attentive, and is impressed with this branch of Elizabeth’s family tree. He shocks Elizabeth when he asks if he could have the honor of introducing her to his sister during this visit.
Darcy calls on the party the next day, with Georgiana and Bingley. Georgiana is...
(The entire section is 960 words.)
Volume Three, Chapters 6−10 Summary and Analysis
Mrs. Hill: the Bennets’ housekeeper
Mr. Bennet and Mr. Gardiner have little luck in London. They can’t find the pair, but almost everywhere they go they find more evidence of Wickham’s low character. He is a gambler and has left a trail of debts behind him. Mr. Bennet returns home and leaves the search to Mr. Gardiner. He confesses that Elizabeth was correct when she warned him about allowing Lydia to go to Brighton. He promises to be more strict with Kitty.
Wickham and Lydia are found. They did not get married, but Mr. Gardiner bribes Wickham to do the right thing by offering to pay his debts and provide them with a yearly stipend. Mr. Bennet agrees, and assumes that Mr. Gardiner must have settled a large amount of his own money on Wickham. Mrs. Hill shows that she is inquisitive and offers help.
Mrs. Bennet recovers quickly from her bed, and starts planning the wedding details, from clothes to what estate nearby will be proper for the newlyweds. She then runs off to spread the news to the Lucas family and other neighbors.
Elizabeth contemplates her own chances of ever being with Darcy again. Even if he would marry into such a disgraced family, would he ever accept Wickham as a brother−in−law? When Gardiner writes again and informs them that Wickham has been assigned a new commission in the north of England, Mrs. Bennet is again distraught....
(The entire section is 745 words.)
Volume Three, Chapters 11−15 Summary and Analysis
Bingley and Darcy arrive at Netherfield. Elizabeth is afraid her mother’s behavior will repel them. Mrs. Bennet’s rudeness to Darcy embarrasses Elizabeth, who owes him more than can be repaid. Darcy is very reserved.
Jane and Bingley come together again at a dinner at Longbourn. Jane tries to convince Elizabeth that they are only on friendly terms. Elizabeth is troubled by Darcy’s reserve. Darcy returns to London, and Bingley proposes to Jane. This is an unexpected event, and Elizabeth speculates about Darcy’s involvement in this recent change of affairs. Jane, however, is enthralled.
Lady Catherine de Bourgh comes to Longbourn to try to break up what she suspects is a relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy. She is extremely rude, and insists that Miss de Bourgh has been promised to Darcy since infancy. She belittles the Bennets’ worth, and chastises Elizabeth for her sharp tongue. Elizabeth is not afraid of her, and practically tells her to mind her own business. Darcy will make the choice, Elizabeth says. Lady Catherine leaves very angry. She is on her way to confront Darcy, and Elizabeth fears that he may be persuaded to the de Bourgh view of things.
The impact of Lady Catherine’s visit is that Darcy will again propose to Elizabeth. He sees that his aunt is condescending and crude. He is ashamed of her behavior. He realizes that Elizabeth has changed her views toward him, and he will...
(The entire section is 532 words.)
Volume Three, Chapters 16−19 Summary and Analysis
Lady de Bourgh is furious, and she goes to see her nephew. She tries to convince him that his feelings toward Elizabeth are unacceptable. She gives him a full account of how Elizabeth treated her, which Lady de Bourgh felt was insufficiently deferential.
Darcy returns to the Bennets after this visit, and they take a long walk together (more than three miles). In their discussion, Darcy begs her for the truth of how she feels. He states his feelings are the same as they were when he first proposed. Elizabeth admits that her feelings have undergone such a radical change that she now loves him. They become sure of each other at last, and they comment on their troubled relationship. Darcy admits that Elizabeth has freed him from his self−centered vanity by her refusal. He only became enamored of her more. He admires her strong opinions and self−assurance. He admits to having given a brotherly chat to Bingley to boost the attachment to Jane. He proposes to her for the second time, and she readily accepts.
Everyone at Longbourn is shocked. Elizabeth had previously shown nothing but contempt for Darcy. Once they believe that the engagement is true, the family behaves as expected. Mrs. Bennet forgets her earlier qualms, and concentrates on Darcy’s wealth. Jane is sincere, and truly happy. Mr. Bennet warns her not to make the same mistake he did. He wants her to marry for love.
When the marriages are...
(The entire section is 629 words.)