What is the significance of the Meryton Hall Ball in Pride and Prejudice?

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sagetrieb's profile pic

sagetrieb | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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Meryton Ball is also important for here we find that Elizabeth develops her prejudice against Darcy, at least in part, because she eavesdrops on his conversation. She overhears him say there are no women at the ball pretty enough for him to dance with.Elizabeth is deeply insulted, but rather than admit to this personal affront, she instead understands him as too proud.  Since this is a novel all about propitious behavior, strict rules of conduct would have required her to walk away from that conversation, but instead she stays to listen in because she is curious. We see Charlotte do something similar when she walks over to the window in a later chapter to overhear a conversation about Lizzy's cousin, the silly Mr. Collins, and it is then she decides she will make a go at trying to marry him, now that Lizzy doesn't want him. Just as "seeing" is an important motif in the novel, so is "hearing," and the latter helps to set the theme of prejudice in motion at the Meryton Ball.

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jamie-wheeler's profile pic

Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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It is at this ball when Elizabeth develops her prejudice for Darcy.  She fully believes that Darcy is responsible for Wickham's flight to London.  When Darcy asks Elizabeth, she is so enraged by prejudice that there is substantial irony in her incensed question to him, "(do you) never allow yourself to be blinded by prejudice?” Elizabeth's prejudice towards Darcy will continue to increase, as will her misjudgment of him and his motives.  Her largely unfounded prejudices begin at the Meryton Hall Ball.

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