Chapters 5–8 Summary
Not far from the Bennet residence lives the Lucas family. Sir William Lucas is friendly and obliging and was given the title of knight by the king during his mayoralty. Mrs. Bennet considers his wife, Lady Lucas, a “valuable neighbor.” The Lucases have several children, and Charlotte, who at about twenty-seven is the eldest, is Elizabeth’s close friend. The Lucas ladies and Bennet ladies meet to talk about the events of the ball, and Mrs. Bennet compliments Charlotte on being Mr. Bingley’s first choice of dance. Charlotte defers the compliment, noting that he seemed to prefer his second dance—with Jane—better. She goes on to say that rumors are circulating about Bingley’s comments on the unparalleled beauty of Jane Bennet.
The conversation soon turns to Mr. Darcy, and the consensus of the group is that he seemed too quiet and disagreeable. Jane divulges that, according to Bingley, Darcy is only talkative around “intimate acquaintance” and that his friends find him “remarkably agreeable.” Charlotte mentions that she wishes Darcy had danced with Elizabeth, and Mrs. Bennet instructs her daughter to avoid dancing with him should the situation ever present itself. Elizabeth assures her mother that she will never dance with the man. Charlotte notes that Darcy has every right to be proud: after all, he is wealthy, has a wonderful family, and generally everything works in his favor. Elizabeth archly responds that she could “forgive his pride if he had not mortified [hers].”
The ladies of Longbourn and Netherfield exchange visits, and Jane finds favor with Mr. Bingley’s sisters. His sisters find Mrs. Bennet “intolerable” and the younger sisters “not worth speaking to,” but they wish to get to know Elizabeth and Jane better. Elizabeth does not change her initial opinion of Bingley’s sisters, finding them “supercilious” and difficult to like. Elizabeth later mentions to Charlotte that although she thinks Jane is on the path toward love with Bingley, Jane is guarded with her emotions, so it is difficult to perceive her true feelings. Charlotte thinks that this could be a disadvantage to Jane: in keeping her feelings about Mr. Bingley so private, she might miss her opportunity to win his heart. Charlotte explains that men need help in deciphering the desires of women and that in “nine cases out of ten a woman had better show more affection than she feels,” advising that Jane make the most out of every opportunity she has to share time with Bingley. Elizabeth says that Jane is simply trying to determine the “degree of her own regard” toward Bingley, but Charlotte replies that happiness in marriage is a matter of chance and that Jane should jump now at the chance to be with Bingley.
Unbeknownst to Elizabeth, she is beginning to find favor in the eyes of Mr. Darcy. Though he barely considered her at the ball, in subsequent interactions, Darcy has begun to notice the intelligent expression in Elizabeth’s dark eyes. Her figure now strikes him as rather light and pleasing, and her playful nature is intriguing. Wanting to know more about her, Darcy begins to insert himself into the conversations she has with others. At a party at the Lucas estate, Sir William Lucas presents Elizabeth to Darcy as a dance partner; however, Elizabeth resists, even after Darcy requests the honor of her hand. Left alone, Darcy is approached by Caroline Bingley, who complains about the noise and the people. Darcy comments that he has actually been thinking about the beauty of one pair of eyes, and Caroline is shocked to learn that Darcy is thinking of Elizabeth Bennet. She scoffs at the idea of such a ridiculous union, joking about the mother-in-law he would have, but Darcy listens to her with “perfect indifference.”
The narrator explains that Mr. Bennet ’s property is entailed and must pass to a male heir. Since the Bennets only have daughters, their home will be inherited by distant male...
(The entire section is 1,290 words.)