Pride and Prejudice Additional Summary

Jane Austen

Summary

(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Pride and Prejudice is the best known of Austen’s six novels and ranks among her finest work. As in Sense and Sensibility, its story centers on two sisters, Jane and Elizabeth Bennet. Jane falls in love early in the book with the amiable, wealthy Charles Bingley. Bingley returns her sentiments but is temporarily persuaded to abandon the romance at the urging of his friend, Mr. Darcy, who does not detect love in Jane’s discreet manner.

The book’s true center, however, is the complex relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy. Both are intelligent and forthright, but their initial impressions blind them to the qualities in each other that will eventually form the basis for their love. Darcy is indeed proud and feels himself above the less refined country families in whose company he finds himself during his visit to Bingley. Elizabeth’s mother, a vain, silly woman who is often a source of embarrassment to her daughter, is also an object of Darcy’s scorn. When she overhears Darcy’s assessment of her and her family, Elizabeth’s own pride is wounded; she dismisses him as a proud, disagreeable man and is more than willing to believe the lies she is told about him by the charming, deceitful Wickham. For his part, Darcy’s pride in his position and his family cause him at first to resist his attraction to Elizabeth and later to propose to her in a manner that she finds even more offensive than his initial hauteur.

Yet as...

(The entire section is 546 words.)

Summary

(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

The chief business of Mrs. Bennet’s life is to find suitable husbands for her five daughters. Consequently, she is elated when she hears that nearby Netherfield Park has been let to a Mr. Bingley, a gentleman from the north of England. Gossip reports him to be a rich and eligible young bachelor. Mr. Bingley’s first public appearance in the neighborhood is at a ball. With him are his two sisters, the husband of the older, and Mr. Darcy, Bingley’s friend.

Bingley is an immediate success in local society, and he and Jane, the oldest Bennet daughter, a pretty girl of sweet and gentle disposition, are attracted to each other at once. His friend, Darcy, however, seems cold and extremely proud and creates a bad impression. In particular, he insults Elizabeth Bennet, a girl of spirit and intelligence and her father’s favorite, by refusing to dance with her when she is sitting down for lack of a partner; he says in her hearing that he is in no mood to prefer young ladies slighted by other men. On later occasions, however, he begins to admire Elizabeth in spite of himself, and at one party she has the satisfaction of refusing him a dance.

Jane’s romance with Bingley flourishes quietly, aided by family calls, dinners, and balls. His sisters pretend great fondness for Jane, who believes them completely sincere. Elizabeth is more critical and discerning; she suspects them of hypocrisy, and quite rightly, for they make great fun of Jane’s relations, especially her vulgar, garrulous mother and her two ill-bred officer-mad younger sisters. Miss Caroline Bingley, who is eager to marry Darcy and shrewdly aware of his growing admiration for Elizabeth, is especially loud in her ridicule of the Bennet family. Elizabeth herself becomes Caroline’s particular target when she walks three miles through muddy pastures to visit Jane when she falls ill at Netherfield Park. Until Jane is able to be moved home, Elizabeth stays to nurse her. During her visit, Elizabeth receives enough attention from Darcy to make Caroline Bingley long sincerely for Jane’s recovery. Her fears are not ill-founded. Darcy admits to himself that he would be in some danger from the charm of Elizabeth, if it were not for her inferior family connections.

Elizabeth acquires a new admirer in Mr. Collins, a ridiculously pompous clergyman and a distant cousin of the Bennets, who will someday inherit Mr. Bennet’s property because that gentleman has no male heir. Mr. Collins’s patron, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, urged him to marry, and he, always obsequiously obedient to her wishes, hastens to comply. Thinking to alleviate the hardship caused the Bennet sisters by the entail that gave their father’s property to him, Mr. Collins proposes to Elizabeth. Much to her mother’s displeasure and her father’s relief, she firmly and promptly rejects him. He almost immediately transfers his affections to Elizabeth’s best friend, Charlotte Lucas, who, being twenty-seven years old and somewhat homely, accepts at once.

During Mr. Collins’s visit and on one of their many walks to Meryton, the younger Bennet sisters, Kitty and Lydia, meet a delightful young officer, Mr. Wickham, who is stationed with the regiment there. Outwardly charming, he becomes a favorite among all the ladies, including Elizabeth. She is willing to believe the story that he had been cheated out of an inheritance left to him by Darcy’s father, who had been his godfather. Her belief in Darcy’s arrogant and grasping nature deepens when Wickham does not come to a ball given by the Bingleys, a dance at which Darcy is present.

Soon after the ball, the entire Bingley party suddenly leaves Netherfield Park. They depart with no intention of returning, as Caroline writes Jane in a short farewell note, in which she hints that Bingley might soon become engaged to Darcy’s sister. Jane believes that her friend, Caroline, is trying gently to tell her that her brother loves elsewhere and that she must cease to hope. Elizabeth, however, is sure of a plot by Darcy and Caroline to separate Bingley and Jane. She persuades Jane that Bingley does love her and that he will return to Hertfordshire before the winter is over. Jane almost believes her, until she receives a letter from Caroline assuring her that they are all settled in London for the winter. Even after Jane tells her this news, Elizabeth remains convinced of Bingley’s affection for her sister and deplores the lack...

(The entire section is 1813 words.)

Summary

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Pride and Prejudice is a love story that is both humorous and deeply serious. It is primarily concerned with the Bennets, a family...

(The entire section is 272 words.)

Summary

(Novels for Students)

At Meryton
Perhaps the most famous opening lines from any nineteenth-century novel are the opening lines to Jane...

(The entire section is 1884 words.)