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

Pride and Prejudice

by Jane Austen
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Pride And Prejudice Short Summary

What is a short summary of Pride and Prejudice?

Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice centers on the conflict between marrying for love and marrying for economic reasons. None of Mr. Bennet's five daughters can inherit his estate, so they are pressured into finding security in "good" marriages. Elizabeth Bennet, the main character, struggles with the societal pressures of marriage and resists Mr. Darcy's advances and proposals. Eventually, however, she finds that she does love him, and for that reason, she decides to marry him.

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Set in the early nineteenth century, Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice tells the love story between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy.

Mrs. Bennet, Elizabeth's ambitious but well-intentioned mother, wishes to see all of her daughters married, especially her eldest ones, Jane and Elizabeth. Soon, the entire community is invited to attend a ball, which Mrs. Bennet believes is a lovely opportunity for her daughters to mingle and find potential husbands. At the ball, we meet the kind and cheerful Charles Bingley and his sisters, Caroline and Louisa, as well as his best friend, the arrogant and vain Fitzwilliam Darcy. Charles takes an immediate liking to Jane, and so his sisters invite her to dine with them in Netherfield.

Jane agrees, as she too likes Charles; however, she catches a cold due to the heavy rain and must stay in Netherfield to recover. Elizabeth hears about her sister's condition and rushes to the estate, where she meets with the Bingleys and Mr. Darcy, who begins to fall for her attractiveness, charm, wit, and intelligence.

There is another ball hosted at Netherfield, where Mr. Darcy asks Elizabeth for a dance, and she reluctantly accepts, having previously learned from Mr. Wickham—the young and handsome soldier—that Mr. Darcy practically ruined his future because he was blinded by jealousy, as Mr. Darcy's father saw Mr. Wickham as his own son.

Soon we meet the snobbish Mr. Collins, who wishes to marry Jane, but because Mrs. Bennet informs him that Jane might soon become engaged, he decides to propose to Elizabeth instead. Elizabeth refuses, and Mr. Collins asks Elizabeth's best friend, Charlotte, to marry him; Charlotte agrees, and they both leave for Kent. The Bingleys and Mr. Darcy also leave for London, and Jane is saddened that Charles suddenly lost interest in her.

Elizabeth decides to visit her friend in Kent and she, Charlotte, and Mr. Collins are invited to the home of Lady Catherine de Bourg (Mr. Darcy's aunt), where Elizabeth is reunited with Mr. Darcy and learns from his cousin that Mr. Darcy recently saved his best friend from an awful marriage. Realizing that Colonel Fitzwilliam is talking about her sister, Elizabeth confronts Mr. Darcy, telling him that what he's done to her sister and Mr. Wickham is unforgivable, and she rejects his love and his marriage proposal.

Heartbroken and confused, Mr. Darcy writes Elizabeth a letter in which he explains that the greedy Mr. Wickham was only after his family's money and even tried to marry his teenage sister, and that he truly believed that Jane was only interested in Charles because of his wealth—a conclusion he made after witnessing her family's behavior at the ball.

Some time later, Elizabeth and her aunt and uncle visit Mr. Darcy's home, where Mr. Darcy—shy and still in love with Elizabeth—introduces her to his sister, Georgiana. Unfortunately, Elizabeth soon learns that her younger sister Lydia has ran away with Mr. Wickham, and Elizabeth leaves the estate. Mr. Darcy, however, manages to convince Mr. Wickham to marry Lydia and saves the Bennet's family name and honor.

Finally, Charles and Mr. Darcy return to Netherfield; Charles asks Jane to marry him, and Mr. Darcy proposes to Elizabeth once again, insinuating that he will never stop loving her, and Elizabeth accepts.

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The Regency novella Pride and Prejudice tells the story about a family of 7 made of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet and their five daughters. The time is the Napoleonic Wars circa the 1810-1820 and women had a low status within society unless they married well. It was a struggle throughout the story for elder sisters Jane and Elizabeth to comply with the obstinate ways of their mother in that they should marry a man of means, rather than a man they loved. Still Jane and Elizabeth were able to stick to what they believed and found love in the end despite of the drawbacks that their lack of aristocratic status (and dowry) made them encounter.

In all, the novel is about how Elizabeth and Jane seek and find love without compromising their dignity, and with the full intention of marrying for love and not for financial gain. The attitude of Mrs. Bennet and her husband, and that of the other characters color the novel with comedy since they represent the typical characters of aristocratic and country upbringings that are mocked through the story.

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A short summary of Pride and Prejudice may cause Jane Austen to groan aloud, but I'll try. Five daughters of a country gentleman who married for beauty and lived to regret it, are enticed by their foolish (though a gentlewoman) mother's announcement of two eligible bachelors in the neighborhood who are newly come down from London. The meetings between the five daughters and these two, as well as other eligible bachelors, at balls result in hoped for love for one sister, disdain and infatuation and irritation from three separate bachelors for another sister, a dangerous elopement for a third sister, and nothing much more than scoldings for the other two sisters.

Jane hopes for marriage with Mr. Bingley but her evenly bestowed smiles lead Darcy to convince Bingley that his love is not returned, while Darcy finds greater and greater attraction in Elizabeth whom he thought too unexceptional to dance with at the Meryton ball. Darcy's old enemy, Wickham, accidentally arrives on the scene and turns Elizabeth's head--and heart--with gossip about Darcy that steels Elizabeth's negative opinion against Darcy. When a visit to Rosings Park to visit Charlotte--Elizabeth's best friend who shocked her by marrying the cousin whom Elizabeth had strongly rejected--exposes Elizabeth to a proposal of marriage form Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth begins a journey of self-discovery.

When a holiday with her Aunt and Uncle surprises Elizabeth with a tour of Pemberley, Darcy's estate and manor house, and then surprises her with the unannounced presence of Darcy himself, Elizabeth's future begins to look brighter as Darcy seems to have taken some of her scathing insults to heart when she rejected his proposal and made himself into a kinder person. But news of Lydia's strange elopement with Darcy's enemy, Wickham, throws Elizabeth on Darcy's mercy and ends her newly sprung hopes of a renewal of his affections. Darcy recognizes his fault of prideful silence in Wickham's being allowed to socialize with respectable families and immediately goes to set things right.

After making amends for the harm his pride and ill-judged decisions had caused, Darcy and Bingley return to Netherfield Park and visit the Bennet home. This time Bingley knows his affection is returned and Darcy knows, because of the outcome of Elizabeth's interview with Darcy's meddling aunt, Lady de Bourgh, that Elizabeth may no longer despise him. Both ladies and men receive their heart's desires when each couple finds a moment to be alone and two weddings are joyously celebrated.

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