Illustration of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy with neutral expressions on their faces

Pride and Prejudice

by Jane Austen
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What does Miss Bingley guess about Darcy's thoughts?

Miss Bingley guesses that Darcy's thoughts mimic her snobbish thoughts about how distasteful it is that their party must attend the local ball and how irritating she finds the other guests. She is shocked when Darcy corrects her. Rather than looking down on the local people in attendance at the ball, he tells her that he had been contemplating Elizabeth's "fine eyes" and beauty.

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The scene in which Miss Bingley guesses about Darcy's thoughts occurs while Darcy and their party attend a local ball and Elizabeth declines to dance with him. Miss Bingley, probably a bigger snob than Darcy, looks down on the local families and objects to going to the ball in the...

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The scene in which Miss Bingley guesses about Darcy's thoughts occurs while Darcy and their party attend a local ball and Elizabeth declines to dance with him. Miss Bingley, probably a bigger snob than Darcy, looks down on the local families and objects to going to the ball in the first place. She tells Darcy that she “can guess the subject of [his] reverie,” saying,

You are considering how insupportable it would be to pass many evenings in this manner—in such society; and indeed I am quite of your opinion. I was never more annoyed! The insipidity, and yet the noise—the nothingness, and yet the self-importance of all those people! What would I give to hear your strictures on them!

Miss Darcy is astonished when Darcy corrects her, telling her that he was thinking of “the very great pleasure which a pair of fine eyes in the face of a pretty woman can bestow.” When Miss Bingley asks which woman he has been admiring, she is again astonished to hear him say that it was Elizabeth.

Later, after Jane has come down with a bad cold as a result of her mother’s scheme for her to fall ill so that she will be forced to stay at Netherfield and recuperate, Elizabeth is very concerned about Jane’s health and walks to Netherfield to help nurse her sister. Although Mr. Bingley is thrilled to host Jane and Elizabeth, Miss Bingley is not happy to have the sisters there. Nevertheless, she is compelled by social convention to be polite and hospitable. Yet she cannot conceal her mean-spirited feelings. Upon seeing how unkempt Elizabeth looks upon her arrival at Netherfield after trudging through the mud and rain, she again attempts to guess what Darcy is thinking. She guesses that Darcy's thoughts about the uninvited Netherfield guests are negative and that Elizabeth’s state of dress and personal appearance have diminished any admiration Darcy may have had for her. Miss Bingley is very surprised again when Darcy corrects her and admits that his thoughts about Elizabeth’s “fine eyes” remain positive:

“I am afraid, Mr. Darcy,” observed Miss Bingley in a half whisper, “that this adventure has rather affected your admiration of her fine eyes.”

“Not at all,” he replied; “they were brightened by the exercise.”

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