Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

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Volume One, Chapters 13-18 Summary and Analysis

New Characters
William Collins: Mr. Bennet’s cousin, who will inherit Longbourn after Mr. Bennet’s death

Lady Catherine de Bourgh: Darcy’s rich aunt and Mr. Collins’ benefactor

Mr. George Wickham: the handsome, young soldier who has a grudge against Darcy

Mr. Bennet receives a letter from his cousin, the Reverend Collins, who will one day inherit Longbourn. Mr. Bennet makes fun of his writing style and pomposity, and makes snide remarks about him to his family. Collins is planning a fortnight visit with them. He informs Mr. Bennet that he is looking for a proper wife, now that he has been assigned a parish post. If he should happen to select one of the Bennet daughters, it would help him feel less guilty about becoming the heir to Longbourn. Elizabeth questions whether this man can be sensible after evaluating his letter. Again, she shows her ability to see through other people’s motives.

Mr. Collins arrives promptly. He is a tall, portly man of 25, and given to pompous speech and manners. He looks at the young ladies in the manner of one who is buying livestock. Every piece of furniture is eyed and evaluated as if it were already his. He is attracted to Jane, but informed that she has a suitor, he settles on Elizabeth. His speech shows how he feels indebted to his sponsor, Lady Catherine. The glowing praise he heaps on her makes her seem saintly.

All the sisters except Mary accompany Mr. Collins to Meryton to visit their relatives, the Phillips. On the way, they run into one of Lydia’s soldier friends, who introduces them to a new officer, Mr. Wickham. He’s handsome, has good bearing, and is extremely personable. Mr. Bingley and Darcy appear, and immediately there are hostile looks exchanged between Darcy and Wickham. Elizabeth is acutely aware of their distress. The Phillips entertain the party. During their visit, Wickham explains to Elizabeth the reasons behind his animosity to Darcy. They were brought up together since infancy, as Wickham’s father was once employed by Darcy’s father. The elder Darcy was supposed to bequeath money to support Wickham in a career as a reverend, Elizabeth is told. Now, Wickham blames Darcy for cutting him out of the will, and for his loss of a valuable profession. Elizabeth is shocked and disgusted with Darcy, and believes every detail of Wickham’s tale. She thinks Darcy is cruel. Wickham also informs Elizabeth that Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Lady Anne Darcy are sisters. Young Miss de Bourgh has been selected as the perfect wife for Mr. Darcy, because the match would unite the two estates. Wickham derides Lady de Bourgh, and speaks of how proud Darcy’s young sister is.

In Chapter 17, Mr. Bingley drops by personally to deliver invitations to his...

(The entire section is 712 words.)