In Pride and Prejudice, what is Elizabeth's interpretation of Caroline's real intention in writing to Jane?
I would like to know what the letter says to Jane and its interpretation by her sister Lizzy.
The following is the excerpt from Caroline's letter:
"I do not pretend to regret anything I shall leave in Hertfordshire, except your society, my dearest friend; but we will hope, at some future period, to enjoy many returns of that delightful intercourse we have known, and in the meanwhile may lessen the pain of separation by a very frequent and most unreserved correspondence. I depend on you for that."
Jane feels that Caroline is kindly trying to put her on her guard. She believes Mr. Bingley must have an interest in Miss Darcy, and wants Jane to be warned so that Jane does not get hurt.
Lizzy believes that Caroline is manipulating Jane. She feels that the information regarding Miss Darcy is false and meant to make Jane give up hope on Mr. Bingley. She also feels that Caroline will want to get Mr. Bingley and Miss Darcy together so that there is a better chance Caroline might win Mr. Darcy. As we learn, Lizzy is the more accurate reader of this letter.
It is very clear that Caroline is telling Jane that Charles has a real affection for Miss Darcy and that his pursuit and eventual proposal to her would please everyone. Especially Caroline who has her eye on Mr. Darcy throughout the book. Caroline is insulting Jane first by suggesting that she is a dear friend, which she is not, and then by boldly telling her that Charles really cares for Miss Darcy and if you, Jane, thought that he liked you well it was just Charles being polite and sociable. His heart, according to his sister, is already spoken for and thus not available to Jane or any other women, particularly since no other woman can hold a candle to Miss Darcy. Caroline takes great pleasure in delivering this news to Jane, knowing that she would be heartbroken. I think that Lizzie realizes that Jane should not give up on Mr. Bingley on his sister's word, but rather wait until he makes his feelings known through his own communication with Jane. Lizzie sees Caroline Bingley for the nasty sneak that she really is, bitter and spoiled and looking down on the Bennett sisters as beneath her and her brother.
When Jane reads the letter from Caroline Bingley, telling her that they have all left Netherfield for London and are unlikely to return, Elizabeth at first it is good news. She thinks it will be easier for Jane to get Mr. Bingley's attention without his sister around. However, Bingley is gone as well. Caroline goes on to say that Mr. Darcy's sister will be in London and makes it appear that her brother is in love with her. Jane is taken in by these words, but not Elizabeth. Her interpretation:
"Miss Bingley sees that her brother is in love with you, and wants him to marry Miss Darcy. She follows him to town in hope of keeping him there, and tries to persuade you that he does not care about you." (chap. 21, linked below)
The entire text of Pride and Prejudice is on eNotes at the link below.