Volume One, Chapters 19-23 Summary and Analysis
Collins requests an audience with Elizabeth after having told Mrs. Bennet that he means to propose. The proposal is clumsy and condescending. Elizabeth refuses to marry someone for a position or for convenience. She expresses her refusal vehemently.
In Chapter 20, she is backed by her father. Her mother says she will never be seen with her again unless she complies. The house is in an uproar when Charlotte Lucas arrives.
Bingley’s whole entourage leaves for London for an indefinite time, without even contacting the Bennets, as Jane learns in a letter. Mrs. Bennet’s idle boast at the ball of a match between Jane and Bingley determined Miss Bingley to prevent it, and she convinced Bingley that Jane is indifferent and unsuitable. She sends a letter to the distraught Jane that Bingley is planning to court Miss Darcy, and will be absent the whole winter.
By Chapter 22, Collins proposes to Charlotte. Elizabeth is appalled, her mother disconsolate, and Lady and Lord Lucas are ecstatic.
The section ends with Chapter 23’s general reflections on what has come before.
Discussion and Analysis
Elizabeth’s refusal of Collins’ proposal implies that she will marry only for romantic reasons. This is further supported by her disdain for Charlotte doing just the opposite. Mrs. Bennet wants the marriage, because Elizabeth is the least favorite of her daughters. Collins seems like a good son-in-law to her. She wants all five daughters married, and she is more concerned with position and income than with romance.
In Chapter 21, Elizabeth again runs into Wickham, and he tells her that he chose not to attend the ball. She approves of this action, and conveniently forgets that he had once stated he would not avoid confrontations with Darcy. As before, her prejudice clouds her from reaching realistic conclusions about his character.
Volume One has now been concluded, but there are several loose ends. Charlotte’s marriage to Collins will allow Elizabeth to pay her a visit and be near Darcy. Miss Bingley’s letter to Jane shows her prejudice, and leaves open several possibilities. Elizabeth has, for once, been mistaken about the character of her close friend, Charlotte. Could she also be mistaken about other conjectures?