Pride and Prejudice Plot Summary
Elizabeth Bennet is a country gentleman's daughter in 19th Century England. She is one of five daughters, a plight that her father bears as best he can with common sense and a general disinterest in the silliness of his daughters. Elizabeth is his favorite because of her level-headed approach to life when his own wife's greatest concern is getting her daughters married off to well-established gentlemen. Only Jane, Elizabeth's older sister, is nearly as sensible and practical as Elizabeth, but Jane is also the beauty of the family, and therefore, Mrs. Bennet's highest hope for a good match.
When Mr. Bingley, a young gentleman of London, takes a country estate near to the Bennet's home, Mrs. Bennet begins her match-making schemes without any trace of subtlety or dignity. Despite Mrs. Bennet's embarassing interference, Mr. Bingley and Jane become fond of one another. Mr. Darcy, who has accompanied Bingley to the country, begins his acquaintance with Elizabeth, her family, and their neighbors with smug condescension and proud distaste for the all of the country people. Elizabeth, learning of his dislike, makes it a point to match his disgust with her own venom. She also hears from a soldier that she has a fondness for that Darcy has misused the man. Without thinking through the story, Elizabeth immediately seizes upon it as another, more concrete reason to hate Mr. Darcy. She contradicts and argues with Darcy each time they meet, but somewhere along the way he begins to like Elizabeth.
When Bingley leaves the countryside suddenly and makes no attempts to contact Jane anymore, the young woman is heartbroken. Elizabeth, who had thought well of Bingley, believes that there is something amiss in the way that he left Jane in the lurch. Only when Elizabeth goes to visit her friend at the estate of Darcy's aunt does the mystery begin to unfold. After several encounters with Mr. Darcy while visiting her friend, Elizabeth is shocked when Darcy proposes to her. Elizabeth refuses him and questions him about the way that he misused her soldier friend and his undoubted role in the way that Bingley abandoned Jane. Darcy writes a letter to explain himself, and Elizabeth is embarrassed to learn that she had been mislead about Darcy's character. Had she known the truth, she would have loved Darcy as he loved her. Darcy leaves that part of the country before she can sort out her feelings and make amends with him. Then she meets him again when she is touring the gardens of his estate with her aunt and uncle. Darcy treats her with kindness and she believes he may still love her, but before anything can be done about it, she learns that one of her younger sisters has shacked up with the very soldier who mislead Elizabeth and the rest of her family about Mr. Darcy. Elizabeth returns home immediately.
When the indignity of her sister's shot-gun wedding is straightened out, Elizabeth is surprised that Darcy returns to the country with Bingley. She expected that the shame of her sister's actions had ruined any chances of a relationship with Mr. Darcy, or Jane and Bingley. Elizabeth learns from her aunt that Darcy did a great part to help get her younger sister properly married to the infamous soldier. Jane and Bingley sort out the misunderstanding that drove him away before and get engaged. Then Elizabeth and Darcy work out their misunderstandings and agree to marry.